Remember Aaron Swartz


hey, where are you?

Aaron, remember when I met you? It was summer 2006 in Cambridge. You were 19 and I was 17.

The details are a bit hazy around the very beginning. I was not even a college freshman then, impressionable and full of curiosity. We ate burritos at Anna’s at the MIT student center one day and it was kind of like a date.

That fall, Reddit got bought by Wired. It was ever so obvious how much you writhed in your new situation. Working for Wired was not what you were meant to do.

One day they called you and said, “hey, where are you?”

And you told them, “I sent you an email saying I was in Boston, so guess what? I’m in Boston!”

I don’t think I’d ever do that. But I was real honored to have you turn up at my SIPB IAP class on contributing to Debian, and to share your camraderie during the MIT Mystery Hunt.

The years went by, and you kept doing your inspired recovering-computer-programmer thing. I stayed here in Cambridge and walked a less fraught path. Remember when we ran into each other that time at Charlie’s Kitchen? That made my day. I kept meaning to keep in touch, invite you out to lunch—but all I had in the end were these chance meetings. Some things slip away for lack of attention.

When I heard you were in the news on Sunday night, I thought you were just in trouble again. I put the thought aside to see about tomorrow, tired from a weekend out of town. I smiled a little at the thought that you were raising more hell for some good reason or another.

Turns out you were in trouble, but not the way I expected.

Hey, Aaron. Where are you now?

In a way, it’s no surprise you went there without warning nor permission.