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Crime The Courts News

Slate's Mini-Biography of Aaron Swartz 39

Posted by Soulskill
from the rest-in-peace dept.
New submitter ElDuque writes "Slate's top story today is a long, heavily-researched article about the life of, and case against, Aaron Swartz. It covers the formative years of both Mr. Swartz and the free information / open knowledge movement he felt so strongly about. Quoting: 'Aaron Swartz is a difficult puzzle. He was a programmer who resisted the description, a dot-com millionaire who lived in a rented one-room studio. He could be a troublesome collaborator but an effective troubleshooter. He had a talent for making powerful friends, and for driving them away. He had scores of interests, and he indulged them all. ... He was fascinated by large systems, and how an organization’s culture and values could foster innovation or corruption, collaboration or paranoia. Why does one group accept a 14-year-old as an equal partner among professors and professionals while another spends two years pursuing a court case that’s divorced from any sense of proportionality to the alleged crime? How can one sort of organization develop a young man like Aaron Swartz, and how can another destroy him?'"
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Slate's Mini-Biography of Aaron Swartz

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  • by peter303 (12292) on Friday February 08, 2013 @05:18PM (#42838003)
    When I was a MIT and Stanford. Very clever, creative people but never "joiners" of any group, whether the group was classmates, sports, or coworkers. Should ever a new group coalease around them, then they'd switch to something different. I was never sure if the reason was disdain, boredom, or as the clever outsider they'd be in the spotlight. Group membership can give you emotional support, especially when things are going bad. Most of these people I knew turned into lost souls.
  • by Beeftopia (1846720) on Friday February 08, 2013 @11:53PM (#42841087)

    Car analogy: He had the massive brain, but not the emotional suspension to effectively harness the power to his benefit.

    Valuing discipline is so important in life. No one is smart enough to flit from one task to another, leaving brilliant solutions in one's wake. 99% perspiration, 1% inspiration.

    From what I've read, he was never really comfortable. Emotionally or physically.

    Growing up is about finding out what you are, finding out about the world. He was such a prodigy and as a result, this soft, depressive, immature kid was thrust into the real world, the big stage, of hard, combative people. A world he had no opportunity to learn about. Many of us have made mistakes but were able to recover. He never had that chance. He stepped into something he, as an introverted young man, had no idea about. He was an introverted, depressive youth on the big stage. He never learned how to cage his internal tormentors. He followed hard men, Stallman and Lessig, into battle. And the battle he stumbled into crushed him.

    An unfortunate confluence of circumstances. A tragedy.

    From his obituary in The Economist: [economist.com]

    "All this added to a weight that had oppressed him for many years. “Look up, not down,” he urged readers of his weblog; “Embrace your failings.” “Lean into the pain.” It was hard to take that advice himself. He kept getting ill, several illnesses at once. Migraines sliced into his scalp; his body burned. And he was sad most of the time, a sadness like streaks of pain running through him. Books, friends, philosophy, even blogs didn’t help. He just wanted to lie in bed and keep the lights off.

    In 2002 he posted instructions for after his death (though I’m not dead yet! he added). To be in a grave would be all right, as long as he had access to oxygen and no dirt on top of him; and as long as all the contents of his hard drives were made publicly available, nothing deleted, nothing withheld, nothing secret, nothing charged for; all information out in the light of day, as everything should be."

An inclined plane is a slope up. -- Willard Espy, "An Almanac of Words at Play"

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