Tuesday, April 13, 2021
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The Art of Giving Back: a Tribute to Aaron Swartz


There are few greater tragedies than a young person taking their life. In the untimely death of Aaron Swartz, the tragedy comes atop his controversial efforts to "steal" millions of journal articles from an electronic archive"" to make them available to the public, for free. Swartz was facing trial for his efforts and if convicted, faced a long prison sentence with the potential for huge fines.

Like the legend of Robin Hood, Swartz attempted to take from the rich and give to the not-so-rich. And like Robin Hood, Swartz had ardent detractors as well as ardent fans for attempting to raid the digital archives of elite institutions. No less noteworthy was his role in creating RSS, a godsend for individuals who want to gather updated digital information in one centralized location without lifting a finger.

Swartz's accomplishments as a 'pioneer' in the digital world stood just as much as political actions that challenged the very foundations of our society as much as they did technological breakthroughs. Swartz was THE prototype for the 21st Century political activist who chaffed at the capitalist barriers that dictate most of our social relationships.