Aaron Swartz, a web technologist and internet activist who worked on RSS, reddit and fought against SOPA/PIPA, committed suicide the other day in Brooklyn. Metafilter has a collection of some of his accomplishments.
[II was in the right place, at the right time to meet many amazing folks. Aaron was one of them. I met the 14 year version of Aaron and his talent was obvious, as was his compassion.]
…even as we’re dimly aware that poorer, less connected, less important people are hounded to their lives’ ends by the dirty machinery of our penal system, which is powered by punishment wholly out of scale to any wrong, punishment which is itself quite often the only wrong ever committed, the sheer, tawdry, grotesquely ill-proportioned persecution of the young man for acts whose criminal taxonomy is something out of a Lewis Carroll poem is the sort of spectacle that really does make you wonder how long, actually, a society intent on destroying its genius in order to preserve the inbred rights of its rentier class to extract filthy lucre from the margins of genuine intellect can endure.
[It’s easy to wail when greatness dies. But as Bacharach points out, there is a shame to it as well since we don’t cry enough about the loss of “poorer, less connected, less important people”. We all contain the same divinity. No one is given more or less of that. We need to do more and by that action provide ourselves the peace of knowing we did all we could.]