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Aaron Swartz Commits Suicide 589

maijc writes "Computer activist Aaron Swartz committed suicide yesterday in New York City. He was 26 years old. Swartz was 'indicted in July 2011 by a federal grand jury for allegedly mass downloading documents from the JSTOR online journal archive with the intent to distribute them.' He is best known for co-authoring the widely-used RSS 1.0 specification when he was 14, and as one of the early co-owners of Reddit."
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Aaron Swartz Commits Suicide

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  • Re:He Is Free Now (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 12, 2013 @09:45AM (#42566807)

    Freedom is a measure of how many options are available to you. If you are dead, you have literally zero freedom.

  • Wish I knew why (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 12, 2013 @09:48AM (#42566833)

    Without context this is just another sad story.

    If he committed suicide because the government/JSTOR ruined his life then over what was claimed to be "trumped up charges" then this is a story that needs some action. But if this was because his girlfriend dumped him or some other personal reason, then this will fade into the background wand wont have the same impact.

    Still it's sad to see that one of our esteemed contributes to society has been lost.

  • Re:Have some shame (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 12, 2013 @09:53AM (#42566873)

    Imagine yourself stuck in a case where you are facing 30+ years for putting up documents online, then the organization saying "Haha! Nevermind, we were going to put everything out in public domain anyway!" (typical PR?) and still be trapped in it.

  • Re:Have some shame (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Grax ( 529699 ) on Saturday January 12, 2013 @10:01AM (#42566939) Homepage
    Very said. I met him once at an ArsDigita event when he was around 14. I was surprised to find that the posts I had been reading came from someone so young. He was a very smart guy and he made a lot of waves. I am sad to see him go.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 12, 2013 @10:22AM (#42567059)

    Half of all deaths are assigned to the wrong cause.

    And I would not be one bit surprised, if it turns out to be murder for lack of evidence in trial.

    I know of similar stuff that happened to colleagues of close relatives, who were willing to give away government secrets. (And government secrets are secret *exactly* because you would not like that which is secret.)
    Shot in the head by snipers from buildings... at the moment they left the airport of the 3rd world country they fled to, and nobody giving a shit about it. After threatening his whole family.
    Yes, the great United States of America's CIA does stuff like that.

    Worst of all, you'll probably mod me down because you can't accept it. (I don't blame you. I blame the propaganda machine.)

  • Reality (Score:0, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 12, 2013 @10:25AM (#42567073)

    MOST PROMINENT SUICIDES ARE murders. Remember the DC Madam, who said on the radio she'd never commit suicide? Murdered, not suicide.
    Maybe Aaron had the dirt on somebody powerful.

  • Re:He Is Free Now (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 12, 2013 @10:35AM (#42567125)

    Freedom is a measure of how many options are available to you. If you are dead, you have literally zero freedom.

    I did not say freedom. I said free. Free as in unrestricted or no longer burdened. He has no freedom after his last choice, but freedom to choose does not guarantee good choices.

  • Re:He Is Free Now (Score:3, Interesting)

    by maxwell demon ( 590494 ) on Saturday January 12, 2013 @10:58AM (#42567263) Journal

    According to that definition, you are more free in a totalitarian dictatorship than in a democracy: In the totalitarian dictatorship you are free from the need to make decisions and you are free from having to form your own opinion.

  • Re:He Is Free Now (Score:5, Interesting)

    by TheGratefulNet ( 143330 ) on Saturday January 12, 2013 @11:21AM (#42567439)

    "you can't have any pleasure when you are dead, therefore, you have no freedom when dead."

    otoh, the opposite is also true:

    "you can't have any pain when you are dead; therefore, you have total freedom from pain and suffering."

    death is absence of EVERYTHING. you are not free or a slave. you have left both 'sides' and you now are not part of anything.

    ie, you walk away from both the positive and negative.

    people who end their lives are trying to remove the bad parts of their lives and the good parts are not enough of a balance to convince them 'stay here'.

    I think its just that 'simple'. when your life is filed with pain and you want to end the pain, suicide does seem to be a way out of it.

  • Re:Have some shame (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 12, 2013 @12:27PM (#42567837)

    To the first paragraph, you've described me somewhat. But I think you're wrong. We don't burn out. Only the unbalanced ones. We can still be crazy successful without blowing up something or killing ourselves. Here's my story. TL;DR, I'm a dropout who's balling from a young age coming from a poor minimum wage family.

    18 yrs old, moved out on my own working part time during school. Always ignored school to program, I'm a coding freak. God bad grades, went all 4 years but failed to attend a city council meeting and thus failed government since that was a requirement. (I was busy working daily after school, plus I lived a city away).

    So I flunked out of high school, landed a crazy gig making 60K in a different state by meeting someone at a conference when I was 18. All my "successful type A" friends went to college, I went to work for $30/hr programming.

    Then at 20yrs old I'm making 70K paid hourly full time.
    22yrs I'm clearing 80K
    24yrs I'm getting 90K
    25yrs I'm now around 120K with vested interest in a startup, I'm now one of those crazy expensive contractors billing out at $250 an hour full time. I get a huge chunk of that.

    So now my friends are out of college, with crazy debt, in apartments making near minimum wage. The hiring market is now seeking experience over pure qualifications in IT. Self taught guys like myself with TRUE passion, are now the ones to find these days. I have a somewhat eccentric LinkedIn that shows off my odd ways of programming at home for fun, writing games and car tuning software, plus some network stuff to scratch various itches. I can't really stop all these crazy business offers and opportunities that are flying my way.

    Come to IL for $200K, or join some startup in MI for $20K signing bonus and THE top guy at some new building they're opening.

    You see, I don't want to move even for the money. I've realized that I can slow the fuck down now that I'm 25 yrs old with no formal education. I'm that smart ass punk who hated school, said they were wrong to teach me too slow with too much homework, dropped out, and earned six figures. I work around the block from my house on the days when I'm not wanting to work from home. 1.2 miles to work, 1.2 miles home. My car isn't even warmed up all the way by the time I hit their driveway.......

    So yeah I'm happy right now. I have my new car and big house. When interns come into the building someone will mistakenly tell me that interns are all suppose to be at some meeting at another place...... I have to tell them I'm the lead developer/manager who runs the building and you're certainly mistaken to assume my young identity means I'm an intern. Yet I live the quite life and keep quite around all my minimum-wage friends. Let's just say I drive to see them, always, and I take the beater to fit in.

    I only got some courage to reply with my story because you called people like me out as being unstable or something. It's not the case. Hell I've been with the same girl 6 years now and getting ready to marry. No record, never in trouble, no drinking at all, no drugs (besides pot here and there), and an avid dog lover.

    I simply take offense......

    But the second part, totally agree with you. You can't work on anything here without violating some "turf" established on a piece of paper somewhere you can't see, for a product you've never actually seen come to market. It's a joke of a system and I'm with you 100% there. First to file only making things worse......

  • Re:Have some shame (Score:4, Interesting)

    by phantomfive ( 622387 ) on Saturday January 12, 2013 @01:18PM (#42568185) Journal
    Indeed, suicidal people have some of the most hilarious death humor of anyone.

    In fact, that's one simple way to determine if someone is seriously suicidal, or just doing it for the attention. Make a joke about death and suicide, and if they don't laugh, they're probably just doing it for the attention.
  • Lessig's (Score:5, Interesting)

    by anarcat ( 306985 ) on Saturday January 12, 2013 @02:07PM (#42568559) Homepage

    Here's a word from another friend of Aaron: []

  • Re:Have some shame (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 12, 2013 @02:16PM (#42568633)

    Imagine yourself stuck in a case where you are facing 30+ years

    I don't fucking need to "imagine" it, you fucking pussy.

    I have BEEN in a similar situation.

    I once faced 16 years' imprisonment for some trumped-up charges that
    might have stuck if I had gone to trial. So like most other people who get
    in trouble in the United States on the federal level, I copped a plea with the
    agreement that my sentence would be limited to far less prison time.

    In the end I served 30 months in federal prison. It was easy time, and I was
    in a medium security facility. I cannot say it was pleasant, but it was not even
    close to being a scenario in which I could have been the victim of homosexual rape
    or any of the other awful things idiots on Slashdot speculate about when they imagine
    prison. The truth is that I had a lot of time to relax, I read many excellent books, and
    I ate quite well ( food in fed prisons is actually pretty damned good, it is the food in
    state prisons which sucks ).

    So, what if I had responded to the prosecutor's BULLSHIT attempts to scare me
    and killed myself ? I'd be dead. Instead, today I am going to enjoy a nice motorcycle
    ride and give my cat a lot of love, and eat a wonderful meal later on. Life has ups
    and downs, and there WILL be dark days for all of us, sooner or later. If you let
    a dark day push you into committing suicide, you will have failed yourself.

    Instead of being dead, I can honestly say that prison was a growth experience
    for me and that I am today happier than I have ever been.

    NEVER EVER GIVE UP, no matter what some bastard is doing to you.

    If my story is not powerful enough for you, look up the story of Primo Levi.
    That story will be enough to leave a permanent imprint on your brain, I
    assure you.

  • Re:Have some shame (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Nethead ( 1563 ) <> on Sunday January 13, 2013 @03:08AM (#42572803) Homepage Journal

    Been there too. Faced 1024 years. Copped a plea for 4 and the judge made it 6. All fed camper time. I lived through it and might just be better for it. Served time with Boesky and Milken (not charges related to them, I was a phracker.)


All laws are simulations of reality. -- John C. Lilly