Remember Aaron Swartz


Matthew from Philippines

The University where I belong to doesn’t have a constant subscription of leading scientific journals, and just like in the real world, only a few elitist research groups have exclusive access. It’s so frustrating that most of the time, I can’t access science journal articles that I desperately need for my research because they are outrageously overpriced. Out of desperation, I sometimes send an email to the contributing author and plead for a free copy while trying to explain my financial predicament and also remarking that I come from a third world country and I really want to do research. Aaron Swartz’s vision of absolute free online academic content could have not only helped me but also all the other desperate graduate students in my country. Actually, his enormous efforts in battling SOPA and PIPA have already helped us, the third world students who cannot afford the staple academic textbooks whose prices are equivalent to 2 weeks or even a month of a regular student allowance.

When I heard about Aaron’s death, I was reminded of my reaction when Neil committed suicide in the movie Dead Poets Society. I remember that I was so shocked that my mouth was literally hanging open during that scene and I said to myself , OMG why did he do that? He was the leader of the revolution!
But I later realized that when a person is horribly forced to stop doing what he is meant to be doing, he is good as dead.

Aaron Swartz is a rare soul, for it is extremely rare for someone in a generation marred by looming injustices and disguised evils to stand up and to initiate radical change. Thank you very much Aaron. I may not have met you personally but your legacy resonates in me. Now, you are truly free.