Showing posts with label Aaron swartz. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Aaron swartz. Show all posts

Tuesday, January 15, 2013


The death of Aaron H. Swartz casts a pall of gloom not only over those who are near and dear to him but for others also on considering the waste of such a talent at such an early age. He was a most talented programmer and an ardent crusader for internet freedom and was overzealous for the cause of free public access to information to the point of hacking. On the morning of Jan 11, 2013 he was found hanging in his Brooklyn apartment by his girl friend.   He was under depression for the past few weeks. The reason for the suicide is presumed to be on worries of impending trial on the case with Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

In 2011 Aaron was alleged to have hacked the computer archive of M I T and took out Millions of scientific Journals of JSTOR ,a digital Library founded in 1995,  in order to make them available for the general public free of charge. The JSTOR found out the downloading and stopped it.  On investigation found out Aaron’s hand in it. JSTOR acted rather gentlemanly, it reached a settlement with Aaron to return the data downloaded and Aaron gave the hard disk containing the data. The case should have settled there and then.

The Federal authorities took up the matter and charged Aaron for theft of records. The JSTOR announced that it was not pursuing criminal case against Aaron. The MIT too was on that line of thinking ( or so they say) but it did not inform their stand to Fedral agencies. The case continued and Carmen Ortiz, the U S Attorney for Massachusetts pursued it vigorously. He said: “a stealing is a stealing whether you use a computer command or a crowbar and whether you take documents or dollars “

Had M I T too informed Government that it had no complaints the Attorney would have lost ground to pursue te case any further. It did not happen so and they kept their disinterest on the case in mind. If the case went against Aaron he could be punished for 35 years’ sentence and a Million Dollar Fine, small wonder that Aaron was depressed.

It is however to be mentioned here that the Federal Attorney saw no grey areas in his judgement of right and wrong, nor  gave any allowance for Aaron’s spectacular achievements.

His achievements were really spectacular. He had prodigious talent at computer programming. At the age of 14 he created RSS 1 0, the technology behind RSS feeds and readers. He also founded Infogram that later merged with Reddit. Meanwhile his attention turned to internet freedom and free information for common man.

Activism does not need a genius to handle. One would wish Aaron had concentrated on contributing to internet and entrusted the job of activism to some lesser mortals. He was just 26 and had many fruitful years to enrich internet technology. His early departure is literally a big loss to mankind.

Image from  Google