Remember Aaron Swartz

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Looking Back Before Looking Forward

You grew up during the early, heady days, where the deterritorializing aspects of the Internet unleashed positive creativity, yours and others. And you were swallowed by the god Chronos/Saturn, by a Justice Department that did not distinguish between striking at Darkness and Light on the Internet, thereby producing even more Darkness. And you were consumed by them, just as Chronos ate his children, the future, to preserve his present. As we know from the Greek myth, that stratagem worked only for a while.

There’s a photo of you, smiling, as you held Robert Jackall’s Moral Mazes approvingly. The book is an ethnography of how bureaucracies t produce their “Alice Through the Looking Glass” cultures of morality and ethics. The book is valuable, as you well knew, because it decoded common element of representation, language and behavior. It was a map of how institutions lie, to others, and even more devastatingly, to themselves.

The motto that was chosen to represent you was “Be Free.” But there is no ability to be free without the ability to “Think Differently.” And that is how many, I think, in the end, will come to remember you, as someone who often thought differently, and then acted, in meaningful ways, on those thoughts.