Aaron Swartz, requiescat in pace

February 7, 2013
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(This article was originally published at Three-Toed Sloth , and syndicated at StatsBlogs.)

I can't claim he was a close friend. We knew each other through a correspondence which began in 2006. We only met face to face once, when I was able to break away from a conference in the city he was living in for an afternoon of conversation. He was the same modest, charming, morally serious, funny and multi-facetedly brilliant young man in person that he was on paper.

For whatever unfathomable reason, he liked my posts. For my part, when I write I try to imagine the reaction of an ideal audience of a few people, and Aaron was one of them. More: I've often asked myself why I don't do as much to act on my convictions as he did; he pricked my conscience. If, on Friday morning, you'd asked me which, if any, of my acquaintances would ever be remembered as a great American, I'd have named him without even thinking about it. Who else was so ridiculously accomplished at such an age, so devoted to good principles without being a prig, so focused on removing the real stumbling blocks to progress?

I have been angry with Aaron, off and on but always stupidly, ever since I heard the news. But I am furious at the idiots who hounded him to death for the sake of the profits of parasites, and the restriction of knowledge.

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