Remember Aaron Swartz

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Aaron surprised me.

I remember it. Someone was talking about Aaron in a vague sense of awe: “He works for ThoughtWorks! What does he do all day?” “Nothing, probably. People with a public persona do not work in professional services.”

I was wrong. Really wrong. He didn’t just work. He did it well. He didn’t just work well. He was incredibly humble about it. He didn’t just work well and with mountains of humbleness. His work inspired me.

I was not first inspired by Aaron because of his work with DemandProgress or RSS or Reddit. His actions to free law from the confines of a pay wall imprisonment was not the trigger. I did not admire Aaron because of his efforts to free publicly funded scientific knowledge locked away as securely as a burned books of Alexandria. It began, for me, when I heard from his team about his passion and incredible drive that was making a difference every single day. Aaron was a builder; he created things to solve problems. And he attacked problems with a passion that every single person in this world deserves to have about something. He took it further than that, though. Despite his renown and early success, he was down in the trenches day in and day out. Because he cared. Because he loved.

I am lucky to have had someone like Aaron to aspire to be like. Not necessarily his goals and ideals (though I am very much aligned with those) but his general passion for the gargantuan tasks that he set out to accomplish. You. Me. Everyone. We all cannot reach that level of drive that Aaron naturally had. But we can reach. And we can appreciate. A passion that will not cease. A love which ignore boundaries and barriers. A life that never stops surprising.

Aaron, you are missed.