New York (CNN) -- Aaron Swartz, the Internet political activist who co-wrote the initial specification for RSS, has committed suicide, a relative told CNN Saturday. He was 26.
"Great minds carry heavy burdens," wrote one user on Reddit, a popular social media website that Swartz helped develop and popularize following a merger in 2006.
Swartz also co-founded Demand Progress, a political action group that campaigns against Internet censorship.
A young prodigy, his passion pushed limits and landed him in legal troubles in recent years.
In 2011, he was arrested in Boston for alleged computer fraud and illegally obtaining documents from protected computers. He was later indicted from an incident in which he allegedly stole millions of online documents from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He pleaded not guilty in September, according to MIT's "The Tech" newspaper.
Two years earlier, the FBI investigated him after he released millions of U.S. federal court documents online. No charges were filed in that case.
Swartz, who completed a fellowship at Harvard's Ethics Center Lab on Institutional Corruption, frequently blogged about his life, success and personal struggles. In some instances, he wrote about death.
"There is a moment, immediately before life becomes no longer worth living, when the world appears to slow down and all its myriad details suddenly become brightly, achingly apparent," he wrote in a 2007 post entitled "A Moment Before Dying."
He was also one of those "I'm not gay, I just happen to have sex with men sometimes" people.
An untitled criminal cunt who killed himself. So sad...there are people who are jobless,on food stamps and ready to lose their homes and they are living in true misery.
After reading the post linked to by R1, it's obvious that he had some serious issues. Was probably depressed because he couldn't accept the fact that he was gay or bisexual ("Sure, I like to have sex with men, but don't lump me in with those weird gay people.")
[quote]An untitled criminal cunt
[quote]An untitled criminal cunt
People without titles are the [italic]worst[/italic].
He was an "activist"? Oh dear.
Look, R3 is actually correct (untitled?). My sympathies go out to people struggling in poverty, or who are suffering from dehabilitating illnesses. Not some entitled, privileged prick who broke into computer systems while complaining about online "censorship." What a tough life! Meanwhile, I'll tell the child with painful cancer why she should feel sorry for this paranoid loser.
People who commit suicide know what they are doing. They know they bring nothing but trouble to those around them if they live on. It sounds cold but just let them be and try to understand.
This reeks of suspicious interference.
Murder made to look like suicide.
Poor thing seems to have had a whole potpurri of issues, any of them could have pushed him over the edge.
The court case (I'm sure he knew there was no way he would have made it if he'd gone to jail), the "I'm not gay I'm unlabelable" thing (which I don't understand, geeks tend to be accepting for the most part and he wasn't some country boy from a conservative area), the high intelligence with a tinge of tinhat.
Where is the reeking R11, why bother taking the risk of murder, when he was facing a potential jail term?
They could just see if they were successful in locking him up.
"For remember, we live in a world where the architects of the financial crisis regularly dine at the White House — and where even those brought to “justice” never even have to admit any wrongdoing, let alone be labeled “felons.”
In that world, the question this government needs to answer is why it was so necessary that Aaron Swartz be labeled a “felon.” For in the 18 months of negotiations, that was what he was not willing to accept, and so that was the reason he was facing a million dollar trial in April — his wealth bled dry, yet unable to appeal openly to us for the financial help he needed to fund his defense, at least without risking the ire of a district court judge. And so as wrong and misguided and fucking sad as this is, I get how the prospect of this fight, defenseless, made it make sense to this brilliant but troubled boy to end it."
[bold]Prosecutor as bully[/bold]:
Yes, he was on online activist who fought SOPA and liberated JSTOR journals. The US gov't wanted to lock him up for 25 yrs. R9 you're fucked. WTF is ''dehabilitating" you fucking ignoramus.
How could a liberal commit suicide with Obama in the White House?
It is not good news when someone commits suicide. However, people should free themselves of all their demons and be who they really are!! That helps a lot and keeps you away from doing things like this. Just saying...
He was GORGEOUS. He looked just like a young George Michael.
I agree. Probably an assassination. This may be the real Bradley Manning.
I kind of agree with what he says about titles.... *ducks*... we focus too much on what we and other people are/aren't that we sometimes forget we're all human. In the scheme of the entire universe, none of us is really all that important. We just insist it be so, but we're all mortal in the end. As a human race, we really do need to get ourselves and our self importance and just allow people to live and love.
[quote]In 2011, he was arrested in Boston for alleged computer fraud and illegally obtaining documents from protected computers.
Why did he do that?
He was really cute.
Too bad. He had Big Dick Face.
Will Violentacrez be next Redditor to go? He's pretty much rendered himself permanently unemployable.
Is this the site that was recently featured on Gawker and how sexist it was?
His idea was to take the research material that had been funded by the public and return it to the public.
The publishers who "own" these materials charge enormous fees to individuals and organizations, several hundreds of dollars per paper. Why should they have the right to do that if the research is funded by the public?
Yes. The accusations of sexism were mainly against Violentacrez who posted violent and/or gratuitous images of women and children (including deceased kids). Other Redditors were mainly concerned about "free speech" issues.
[quote]His idea was to take the research material that had been funded by the public and return it to the public.
What do you mean by "research material"? Raw data? Did he have the ability to evaluate this "research material" and its worth in order to "return it to the public"? Did he provide any useful commentary so lay people could understand this research? I doubt it. Did he even give a shit about its content?
He suffered from clinical Depression. It's like cancer of the mind. He was brilliant, attractive; a young idealist. His death is tragic.
R29, I can't tell whether you are being serious or sarcastic
[quote]What do you mean by "research material"? Raw data? Did he have the ability to evaluate this "research material" and its worth in order to "return it to the public"? Did he provide any useful commentary so lay people could understand this research?
He wanted those scholarly articles/research material which are funded by the public to be freely available to students, researchers and scientists. Instead, those same people, or the institutions they work for/study at, have to pay thousands of dollars to JSTOR for a very limited access.
He found out he had the flu
r15...shut the fuck up, cunt. You're a complete idiot. He should have been locked up. Breaking into computer systems is a crime, cunt. Not political activism.
R31...oh be quiet. He was a thief. Period.
Oh and R15...listen spelling Nazi, you knew perfectly well what I meant. You're a piece of shit.
[quote] or the institutions they work for/study at, have to pay thousands of dollars to JSTOR for a very limited access.
You do realize that the academic journals that JSTOR digitizes are available at most university libraries to their faculty, student, alumni and library users, no? You must also realize that these journals are searchable through a myriad of other ways.
[quote]JSTOR is licensed mainly to academic institutions, public libraries, research institutions, museums and schools. More than 7,000 institutions in more than 150 countries have access.
How many people with an interest in the findings of whatever research don't have access to a university library? I have access to several university libraries in my area. I can walk in, do searches and find journals. Sometimes, I'm asked for ID, sometimes not.
I'm not sure what service this guy thinks he was doing for whom.
[quote]You do realize that the academic journals that JSTOR digitizes are available at most university libraries to their faculty, student, alumni and library users, no?
You do realize that universities pay tens of thousands of dollars for a limited access to these libraries. Not all universities can afford such fees.
None of JSTOR material is free. So even if you can waltz into your university library and have access to it, it is because at some point someone paid a lot of money for it.
So basically he was a disgruntled asshole who didn't want to pay an online library fee to gain access to material.
[quote]So basically he was a disgruntled asshole who didn't want to pay an online library fee to gain access to material.
Do you know how high JSTOR fees are?
[quote]You do realize that universities pay tens of thousands of dollars for a limited access to these libraries
Yes. And those university and public libraries are open to the general public. What's the fucking point?
It also goes without saying that's it's not only publicly funded work that ends up on JSTOR. Did he carefully make the distinction?
R39...Welcome to America! So professional research conducted by others should be free for the asking? Oh for pity's sake. Oh, I get it...it's done under the pretext that "we paid for it." Well, dandy. My taxes pay for lots of things, so I suppose all that stuff should be free too! why, I should get a free ballistic missile if I want one! I hate these nerds who think that intellectual property that is created by others should just be handed out for free. It's bullshit. He was a thief. Period.
Of course he didn't, R41.
The University I go to has access to lots of research, and as a student I get free access to everything they pay for. I don't have to steal the work of others. Maybe he should have just taken a class?
From reading his blog, he really does seem like the kind of guy who might have done the hacking thinking he was doing something for the greater good.
The sad thing is he greatly overestimated the public's hunger for knowledge of the type found in JSTOR.
R1 thank you for the link, I agree with every word. Gay is sooo tired.
I too think he knew something and had to be removed. Not a suicide at all.
I've sometimes been able to get access to JSTOR through a password link that a Professor friend of mine gave me, but it's not easy.
The other issue is this...suicide is often an act of revenge. The ultimate act of revenge. He's harmed a lot of people by doing this, which was undoubtedly his intent. This was a very angry man who wanted to lash out at everyone who knew him or supported him, and he's succeeded. Now he gets to be a martyr.
[quote]What's the fucking point?
Am I missing something here. Everywhere I read about it, scientists and researchers claim that a lot of that material is not available to them without high fees. But you are saying that's all bullshit because ALL of JSTOR material is available to anyone. Is that what you are saying?
He was cute. What a shame.
[quote] why, I should get a free ballistic missile if I want one!
No, you should not, but then again, you do not need one to do your work, do you?
R46...why should it be "easy"? Students have access to it via Universities. Why should everything that is intellectual property be free?
R48...yes. You're missing a brain. Some of that material is privately funded and therefore not available upon request. Not ALL of it is publicly fund research that's available to everyone. Some of it is ONLY available to other researchers. What is the average layperson going to do with research he couldn't possibly understand anyway??
R50...and what "work" was he doing that he needed to illegally break into their computer system and steal all their research? Steal. Theft. Do we not have any sort of ethics in this country anymore?
JSTOR released public domain papers AFTER Swartz (partially) copied them to his laptop. In fact, they credit him and his partner for the initiative.
[quote]You may recall that following the indictment of Aaron Swartz for downloading some JSTOR papers, a guy named Greg Maxwell decided to upload 33GBs of public domain papers from JSTOR and make them available via The Pirate Bay. He had the papers for a while, but was afraid that he'd get legally harassed for distributing them. However, it appears the opposite has happened. Copycense points us to the news that
[bold]JSTOR has now agreed to allow free access to all of its public domain material. In the announcement about this, JSTOR's managing director admits that Maxwell's actions had an impact on this effort, though she claims that JSTOR was planning to do this already:[/bold]
[quote] Everywhere I read about it, scientists and researchers claim that a lot of that material is not available to them without high fees.
Who are these people and where do they work? Edna's House of Fine Research?
I know university faculty, adjunct faculty and research staff across several disciplines and educational institutions who have never voiced such complaints.
He didn't do it for himself, R53. Have you actually read any articles on this guy?
BTW...his girlfriend discovered his body. That won't scar her for life, will it?
"But in July 2011, he was indicted on federal charges of gaining illegal access to JSTOR, a subscription-only service for distributing scientific and literary journals, and downloading 4.8 million articles and documents, nearly the entire library.
Charges in the case, including wire fraud and computer fraud, were pending at the time of Mr. Swartz’s death, carrying potential penalties of up to 35 years in prison and $1 million in fines."
It's also important to point out that this wasn't the first time he'd stolen material. And though he stole virtually all their material, after he turned over his hard drive, JSTOR chose not to prosecute him. He was a very lucky asshole. But he was also apparently very mean-spirited towards the people closest to him.
Um, R54, can you read? They didn't credit him with anything. They said they'd already been planning to release those materials, which seems borne out by the fact they did not have him prosecuted.
[quote][R48]...yes. You're missing a brain.
Why is it that some of you cannot discuss things without insulting people?
R56...he did everything for himself. Classic narcissist, right down to the suicide.
He was soooooo selfless, R56? Is this what we're supposed to take away from this?
[quote]Um, [R54], can you read?
Yes, I can, you condescending piece of shit, Go fuck yourself.
We are dropping the ball here, people. This is the DL - we need to see shirtless pictures.
Still, it's sad when someone ends their life by their own hand.
Unless you are Hitler. Or a Kardashian.
Take from it what you will, R61. What do I care.
JSTOR is inaccessible to those outside of universities. Aaron believed in democracy and wanted to make that knowledge/information accessible to everyone, to free it from the Ivory Tower.
R38 clearly has no idea what JSTOR is, which means no uni. Such bitterness and poor diction signal lack of higher education, poor breeding, bad choices and a dead-end job. Losers are often scornful of the accomplished. Sucks to be you, poor angry dumdum.
r66, how can you defend the liberation of JSTOR from the chambers of the elite in the same breath as you declare someone trash for lacking a college education? Having said that, r38 really is an idiot.
Who outside of a university setting is prevented from obtaining a library card at public universities? Who? (I believe this what R38 is suggesting and R66 waves off dismissively without trying to understand what s/he meant) There is a fee, but someone with a genuine interest can swing it. They can also walk into university libraries and use other means to search literature in an area of interest without paying for a library card.
You're making it sound like people with interest are barred/banned and kept from obtaining what they want, R66. It's simply not the case.
You just gotta love the DL hypocrisy. R66 is Mr. Egalitarian in his first paragraph then pulls his elitist bullshit in the very next paragraph. Not well played. Love the intellectual consistency.
Well r67, Aaron was trying to help asshats like r38. More journal articles, fewer guns.
Well, knowledge used to be available for free - books and periodicals in libraries. Or books you could buy at a reasonable cost. If he was against the privatization of knowledge (with a cost of thousands of dollars), knowledge that was funded by the public on top of it, well, I think he had a point.
Even if you get a library card there are limits to the access - you can only read the info on library computers at the library or for limited amounts of time.
So did he kill himself because he may have been sent to jail for 25 years?
Only the good die young. Better to die then fight the corporate assholes, who were probably framing him.
He had shit parents. The guy was doomed from the start.
I hope r33 dies in a grease fire.
I agree with him that he was not gay. With that bad haircut, unclean, disheveled appearance and wrinkled tee shirts? No way.
Aaron died that we might learn from the material archived in JSTOR.
Aaron should be canonized.
[quote]We are deeply saddened to hear the news about Aaron Swartz. We extend our heartfelt condolences to Aaron’s family, friends, and everyone who loved, knew, and admired him. He was a truly gifted person who made important contributions to the development of the internet and the web from which we all benefit.
[quote]You are not currently logged in through a participating institution or individual account. See the login page for more information.
[quote]Even if you get a library card there are limits to the access - you can only read the info on library computers at the library or for limited amounts of time
You are truly ignorant. Have you ever been in a research library? Do you think that fundamental research means getting everything you desire, off a computer terminal screen in prelim. research? Just a few screens of summarized findings? Eejit.
It means you have to go off and obtain a PHOTOcopies of the entire journal articles (from the actual JOURNALS within actual disciplines: abstract, introduction, methods, results, statistical analyses, discussion and conclusions.) I know that this may mean actual reading and investigation, but when it comes to doing something like this, the real researchers within their own or allied fields dig in.
And no one in any discipline needs JSTOR to do that, just the stupid dilettante who thinks he knows better than anyone with any expertise, content be damned.
Dilettantes hurt science and investigation.
If you think you're going to get all research summarized for you at the mere push of a button from JSTOR, viola?! Absolutely wrong and more fundamentally, ignorant. Jesus Christ on a cracker.
Why do people who insist on trying to be intellectual act as though their brain stem functions are impaired?
What was on his iPod?
[quote]If you think you're going to get all research summarized for you at the mere push of a button from JSTOR, viola?!
Oh, dear, indeed, R83. (punctuation be damned.)
One of my dearest college friends (from so many ages ago) was actually a violist (viola bigger than the violin, that I know.) in our city's chamber quartet.
This doesn't have much to do with the catfight that occupies most of this thread, but it's strange to me that the DL is the only place where I've read any reference to the essay linked in r1. This is probably the #1 story on the internet this weekend - I kind of expected gay blogs to make hay with this guy's (non-gay) queerness.
Has anyone here had him?
Apartment Seekers: A 7th floor flat is now available at 301 Sullivan Place, corner of Nostrand in Crown Heights. Just four blocks from
President Street station.
Good lord, what a depressing building and neighborhood
Ugh, why would you pay that much to live in a McBuilding in stabby, shooty Crown Heights? He clearly wanted to die.
Those attracted by Gold Rushes tend to have a short life span.
The fact that this is the #1 story on the internet just shows you how ridiculous the internet has become. This guy had potential that he wasted being a privileged brat and a dilettante. But he was apparently a narcissist who expected everyone close to him to be perfect in the way he perceived himself to be. His fans are the same sort of social misfits, who think that life is an elaborate video game in which the objective is to get as much stuff free as you possibly can, because they are entitled to it by virtue of their privileged lives and pseudo-intellects. It's the ultimate expression of "one percent" perspective and sensibility.
[bold]Aaron Swartz Died Innocent — Here Is the Evidence[/bold]
I did not know Aaron Swartz, unless you count having copies of a person's entire digital life on your forensics server as knowing him. I did once meet his father, an intelligent and dedicated man who was clearly pouring his life into defending his son. My deepest condolences go out to him and the rest of Aaron's family during what must be the hardest time of their lives.
If the good that men do is oft interred with their bones, so be it, but in the meantime I feel a responsibility to correct some of the erroneous information being posted as comments to otherwise informative discussions at Reddit, Hacker News and Boing Boing. Apparently some people feel the need to self-aggrandize by opining on the guilt of the recently departed, and I wanted to take this chance to speak on behalf of a man who can no longer defend himself. I had hoped to ask Aaron to discuss these issues on the Defcon stage once he was acquitted, but now that he has passed it is important that his memory not be besmirched by the ignorant and uninformed. I have confirmed with Aaron's attorneys that I am free to discuss these issues now that the criminal case is moot.
I was the expert witness on Aaron's side of US vs Swartz, engaged by his attorneys last year to help prepare a defense for his April trial. Until Keker Van Nest called iSEC Partners I had very little knowledge of Aaron's plight, and although we have spoken at or attended many of the same events we had never once met.
Should you doubt my neutrality, let me establish my bona fides. I have led the investigation of dozens of computer crimes, from Latvian hackers blackmailing a stock brokerage to Chinese government-backed attacks against dozens of American enterprises. I have investigated small violations of corporate policy to the theft of hundreds of thousands of dollars, and have responded to break-ins at social networks, e-tailers and large banks. While we are no stranger to pro bono work, having served as experts on EFF vs Sony BMG and Sony vs Hotz, our reports have also been used in the prosecution of at least a half dozen attackers. In short, I am no long-haired hippy anarchist who believes that anything goes on the Internet. I am much closer to the stereotypical capitalist white-hat sellout that the AntiSec people like to rant about (and steal mail spools from) in the weeks before BlackHat.
I know a criminal hack when I see it, and Aaron's downloading of journal articles from an unlocked closet is not an offense worth 35 years in jail.
The government's allegations are laid out in detail in the indictment (included in full at the bottom of this post), and contemporaneous news accounts provide a good summary of the prosecutor's view of events.
Aaron was accused of downloading millions of documents from JSTOR, a non-profit web portal used by university researchers to access the archives of thousands of academic journals. At the time of Aaron's actions, JSTOR access was not free to individuals, and the locking away of this huge store of academic research was extremely controversial and a topic of personal interest to Aaron. In a sad irony, just this week JSTOR announced that millions of articles will now be free to individuals.
(more at link)
If I end up dead instructions.
Sorry, I don't think this guy committed suicide. He was dangerous to the powers that be who want total control of the information flow. This guy presented real potential problems for them.
Rebecca Tarbatton, the 39 year-old head of Rainforest Action Network, who was leading RAN's campaign against the global banking system on environmental grounds is another suspicious death.
Then, look at all of the dead microbiologists between 1980 and now...hundreds before their time.
Intelligent activists or people who know too much, especially if they make waves or who have potential to make waves are as good as dead
His body discovered by girlfriend, Taren Stinebrickner-Kauffman. Doorman wouldn't say if they lived together. At least he was going with a Jewish girl.
I don't know who this is, then. Quinn? Seems like the love of his life.
[quote]People who commit suicide know what they are doing.
Honey, you're an ignorant idiot. So do us a favor, and leave DL.
[quote]The other issue is this...suicide is often an act of revenge. The ultimate act of revenge.
Oh, god. Here comes the soap opera. Sorry, but that's not true, hon -- at least not in 98% of the cases. People who commit suicide are not in the right frame of mind. And no, suicide is not selfish. Proclaiming that you're a victim because someone killed themselves not thinking about "you," that's selfish!