Aaron Swartz was a prolific programmer who combined his love of technology and culture with a deep commitment to social justice. At an early age he co-developed RSS, now an essential Internet tool for sharing information, before creating Reddit as a social news site.
His fight against government attempts to censor Internet information led him to his death in January 2013, hanging himself in his Brooklyn apartment.
Early Life and Education
Aaron Swartz was immersed in computer technology from an early age. At fourteen, he began learning to code; by fifteen he developed software to facilitate information syndication over the Internet; at nineteen, he co-founded Reddit, now one of the world’s most beloved social news sites.
His work was not only groundbreaking, but also politically and morally consequential. Swartz championed open access to information while fighting online censorship.
Aaron Swartz was careful to keep his personal and romantic life private. At the time of his death, he was dating Taren Stinebrickner-Kauffman; please check back regularly for updates regarding their relationship status; they had been dating for 18 months prior to Aaron’s passing.
Computer programmer, entrepreneur, writer and Internet hacktivist. Co-founder of Reddit; also responsible for successfully campaigning against internet censorship bills with Demand Progress.
In 2011, Swartz was arrested on allegations that he downloaded millions of academic journal articles from JSTOR without authorisation and faced potential jail sentences of 35 years. On January 11th 2013 however he took his own life by hanging himself at his Brooklyn apartment.
People who knew him say Swartz was unconvinced of any illusions and was keenly aware of the world’s injustices, which he actively battled rather than turning away from. His relentless pursuit of information and transparency aligned perfectly with Ashkenazi Jewish cultural values; making him an idol to many in his community as well as beyond. Despite all of his accomplishments, he chose to keep his personal life private.
Achievement and Honors
Aaron Swartz was widely revered as a pioneer at bridging technology and activism – a young man with an insatiable curiosity who believed information should be freely accessible for all. At 19, he served as co-programmer on Reddit, the social-network news site later sold to Conde Nast for an estimated $10 million sum.
He was also an activist, founding and helping launch the Guerilla Open Access Manifesto. Fighting tirelessly to make academic papers available to everyone he was facing 35 years in prison when he took his own life on January 11, 2012 at just 26.
Aaron Swartz was an extraordinary computer prodigy, hacker, political activist and entrepreneur whose brilliant mind transcended traditional boundaries to fight fearlessly for open access to information. Unfortunately, Aaron passed away tragically before his genius could make its impactful mark in our world.
Swartz’s friends grieve his passing for both its impact on society, as well as for losing someone who “had no illusions” about fundamental injustices around him and wanted to address them head on rather than pretend they didn’t exist – an attitude which may have sometimes taken him down dark paths or caused negative thought processes to emerge in him.
Swartz attempted to channel his frustration through public outlets like his blog without sharing it with those closest to him, yet by his final weeks it appeared as though he was struggling; his Brooklyn apartment was nearly vacant of possessions – enough so for two bags.
Aaron Swartz was born November 8th 1986 in Highland Park Illinois. Upon receiving a computer from his parents during the early 90s, Swartz quickly took to it, creating what would later become Wikipedia – The Info Network.
He collaborated with Brewster Kahle to establish the Internet Archive, an open digital library providing access to books, movies and other materials for free use. Later in life he became politically active by founding Demand Progress as an activist website.
Friends describe Swartz as someone with deeply held ideals who was deeply aware of world’s fundamental inequities, wanting to address them rather than pretend they didn’t exist. Unfortunately, this often led him into dark corners or led him down negative paths.