Aaron Swartz committed suicide on January 11
The news revolving around the death of Reddit co-founder Aaron Swartz has been revolving around the Internet for quite some time now. Swartz’s uncle, Michael Wolf, confirmed the news by stating that his nephew took his own life in his New York city apartment. Swartz’s attorney, Elliot Peters, also confirmed the reports by saying, “The tragic and heartbreaking information you received is, regrettably, true.”
Apparently, Swartz hanged himself inside his apartment weeks before his trial.
His family is blaming the prosecutors for his suicide. His mother was quoted as saying, “Aaron has been depressed about his case/upcoming trial, but we had no idea what he was going through was this painful.”
His friends also stated that he had a history of depression – this history was often talked about by Swartz openly in his blog. In September, Swartz wrote one of the final posts in his blog. It was titled “Lean Into the Pain”. The following is an excerpt:
“The problem is that the topics that are most painful also tend to be the topics that are most important for us: they’re the projects we most want to do, the relationships we care most about, the decisions that have the biggest consequences for our future, the most dangerous risks that we run. We’re scared of them because we know the stakes are so high. But if we never think about them, then we can never do anything about them.”
Many people associate Swartz with the establishment of Reddit, when in fact, Swartz had actually contributed a lot to the Internet community. He co-authored the RSS 1.0 Specification; he co-founded Demand Progress, an advocacy group to encourage people to do something about news that greatly affected them and to fight against Internet censorship; he created the web.py web application framework; and, he launched Jottit, a collaborative space for website production.
Woah, talk about hard-working!
Unfortunately for him, last July 2011, Swartz was charged with stealing millions of scientific journals from a computer archive at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in order to make them freely available to the public.
Naturally, he had pleaded “not guilty”. His federal trial was actually supposed to start next month – if he was found guilty, he faced the threats of at least three decades in prison and at most 1 million dollars in fine.
Obviously, with everything that’s been going on, his family released a spicy statement towards the prosecutors: “Aaron’s death is not simply a personal tragedy. It is the product of a criminal justice system rife with intimidation and prosecutorial overreach. Decisions made by officials in the Massachusetts U.S. Attorney’s Office and at MIT contributed to his death.”
Swartz, in all actuality, faced 13 felony charges, including breaching site terms with the hope of advocating peer-to-peer network sharing, computer and wire fraud, criminal forfeiture and getting information from a secured computer.
JSTOR, a subscription service used by MIT that offers digitized copies of articles from more than 1,000 journals, just announced this week that it’d make 4.5 million articles publicly available for free.
Swartz’s funeral is then scheduled this incoming Tuesday, January 22, in Highland Park.
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