We only knew a small facet of him, what he choose to expose to us during a year. It was a difficult time for him. He found a home at ThoughtWorks. Many of us pushed him to work on a defense fund, develop a public facing campaign, and extend his reach beyond a single project. In retrospect, we did not truly understand his resistance and the impact of prosecution over-reach which was weighing heavily upon him. In part, he wanted to avoid thinking about his impending hearing whenever possible. Aaron’s work on Victory Kit allowed him to create some existence removed from the charges brought against him.
As a result, we only knew his brilliance through leadership on activist software, joint efforts to push an agenda of free open source software, and office chatter regarding news events of the year. A natural shyness was extrapolated by his personal situation and he tended to avoid the limelight where possible. His voice was softened and suppressed by the powers running the world.
He was a terrific guy to have in the office. Aaron was fun (and easy) to tease. He was kind and caring towards colleagues, Definitely a cheap lunch date! Just white rice at Thai Toon or pizza at Zana. He was generous with his talent. Smart, well-read, and expert on current events.
Although we all knew Aaron’s history and rock-star status, it was only in the aftermath of his death a strong connection to his pre-existing work and political life emerged. When all the dots were finally connected, the significance of his contribution to the history of technology and specifically the internet was apparent.
I miss Aaron. I regret that it took his death for all of us to celebrate his life. I am sorry that change seems to come at the price of personal freedom, public defamation, and even the loss of life for political dissenters in our world today.