The inspiring heroism of Aaron Swartz
(updated below)Aaron Swartz, the computer programmer and internet freedom activist, committed suicide on Friday in New York at the age of 26. As the incredibly moving remembrances from his friends such as Cory Doctorow and Larry Lessig attest, he was unquestionably brilliant but also - like most everyone - a complex human being plagued by demons and flaws. For many reasons, I don't believe in whitewashing someone's life or beatifying them upon death. But, to me, much of Swartz's tragically short life was filled with acts that are genuinely and, in the most literal and noble sense, heroic. I think that's really worth thinking about today. At the age of 14, Swartz played a key role in developing the RSS software that is still widely used to enable people to manage what they read on the internet. But rather obviously, Swartz had little interest in devoting his life to his own material enrichment, despite how easy it would have been for him. Suicide is an incredibly complicated phenomenon.