Remember Aaron Swartz

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Paul Ford

Last year Aaron invited me to an event in New York City. I was one of the people he checked in with once or twice a year, to talk XML or journalism and activism. It was good to see him and to meet Taren. They were so obviously a great match and great friends to one another. As the night wound down I asked him what he was working on. I’ve asked hundreds of people the same question. It’s usually a sure-fire way to get a long, drawn-out answer, with footnotes. But Aaron answered differently. He looked thoughtful and said: “I don’t know. What should I be doing?”

Lord if I knew. He was always up to something, projects both ridiculous and sublime (I transferred a domain to him after that night, since he thought he might have use for it). But even more than his native talents it was that constant openness of spirit, that willingness to apply his prodigious talents with abandon, that set him apart. How could you do anything but admire the man?

It was wonderful to know Aaron. I share your anger at the wasteful, needless prosecution that was such a burden to him. He dedicated his life to fairness. To be treated so unfairly was an awful injustice.

To his family, to Taren—thank you for sharing him with the rest of us. He had so many friends and supporters who grieve his death. Please think of us as friends to and supporters of you, as well, and call on us if we can help.