Farewell Aaron, and thank you

On behalf of the Wetmechanics of Wetmachine, I express our condolences to the family and friends of Aaron Swartz. I did not know the man, but I know of his work, for which I am deeply grateful. Aaron’s contributions benefited me personally, because I cherish and depend upon a free and open Internet, and he championed the same causes that we tend to champion here on Wetmachine. But in a much larger sense his work benefited everyone who believes in democracy, fairness, and civilized society. He was evidently not a perfect man, which should come as no surprise, since as far as I know there is no such thing. But he fought the good fight in search of a more just world. His heart was good, and he was effective. By that I mean he was a doer, not a pundit. We need more people like him.

Cory Doctorow has written a very beautiful and nuanced remembrance of Mr. Swartz. I recommend you take a few moments to read it if you haven’t done so already.

We wish for the family and friends of Aaron Swartz whatever solace they may find in the knowledge that he was loved and appreciated by people of goodwill all over the earth.

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One Comment

  1. Helen says:

    Thanks for writing this, John. On a weekend where it’s hard to know what to say, you’ve succinctly expressed what many of us are feeling.

    There’s a We The People petition now to remove the US attorney who prosecuted Aaron Swartz’s case. While I get the anger at the system that would crush someone like Swartz (better expressed by Larry Lessig than I), there was more than one person responsible for that travesty, and there are uncountable people who’ve contributed to the altogether effed-up copyright culture that we have today.

    So I don’t want to sign that revenge petition. But this very day, I went to the Creative Commons site to pick out a licensing scheme for a new project. (We’ve been using CC licenses at AE for nearly three years now, of course.) And, right above Aaron’s photograph on the home page, there was a banner saying that Creative Commons is turning 10, and that it would be a good time to make a donation. So I did (and was pleased to find that it was eligible for a matching donation from my employer). That feels a lot better to me.

    Next to your post, I also liked this tweet in honor of Aaron Swartz. It seems like the best thing we can do is to try to nudge our world a little closer to that better universe.

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