Over the weekend MIT newspaper The Tech reported that Internet activist Aaron Swartz committed suicide in his New York City apartment. Aaron was 26 years old. He helped build internet institutions like Reddit and Creative Commons, co-authored the very first RSS specification and was an internet activist through his work as the founder of Demand Progress. Aaron's suicide was related to his concerns about federal charges he faced for stealing 4.8 million documents from the online digital library JSTOR.
Activist blogger and BoingBoing founder Cory Doctorow offers a eulogy for Aaron here. Lawrence Lessig, Creative Commons and Stanford Center for Internet and Society co-founder, Professor at Harvard Law School, and a long-time friend and mentor, also offers his thoughts on Aaron's untimely passing on his Tumblr account. He does not have nice things to say about federal prosecutors who he calls bullies in the title.
The Entertainment Consumers Association's (ECA) Jennifer Mercurio offers her condolences on Facebook:
"A year ago, a small band of committed citizens & orgs worked together on a plan so audacious that no one thought we could 'really' pull it off – black out entire swaths of the internet in defense of the internet itself," wrote Jennifer Mercurio, ECA Vice-President and General Counsel in a Facebook post this weekend. "People in our lives either supported our intense work & drive, or were jettisoned. Our internet blackout is still awesome and humbling. While we could have done it without Aaron Swartz, he made it possible, and easier, and, well, more 'doable.' RIP Aaron. Your legacy lives on. Thank you."
Finally, Aaron's mother posted a short statement on Hacker News, saying, "Aaron has been depressed about his case / upcoming trial, but we had no idea what he was going through was this painful."
Our thoughts and prays go out to the family and friends of Aaron Swartz, and to the Internet community who has truly lost a champion. His work on/with Demand Progress was of paramount importance in making the Internet blackout and various letter-writing campaigns against SOPA an overwhelming success. Rest in peace, Aaron. You will be missed.