In Memoriam: Aaron Swartz

NDItech mourns the death of Aaron Swartz who killed himself on November 11, 2013. Aaron was a fiercely brilliant programmer, a passionate advocate for an open and free Internet that supports and promotes freedom of information, and a true democracy activists in the very essence of that word. Aaron Swartz was 26. 

The projects Aaron worked on impact our lives here at NDI every day: Open data feeds using RSS, news and opinions on Reddit, a simple way to write via Markdown, secure web browsing in Chrome via HTTPS Everywhere, a way to share and reuse content using Creative Commons, and a more free Internet thanks to Demand Progress that used his technological savvy, money and passion to leverage victories in huge public policy fights, to name just a few of his astounding accomplishments.    Changing the world to be better, more true, and more free animated Aaron. Wired.com editor Kevin Poulsen said it well, articulating the loss of Aaron to the world:
“Worthy important causes will surface without a champion equal to their measure. Technological problems will go unsolved, or be solved a little less brilliantly than they might have been. And that’s just what we know. The world is robbed of a half-century of all the things we can’t even imagine Aaron would have accomplished with the remainder of his life.” 
We are deeply saddened by his death.  In this tribute we are posting his inspired speech to the Freedom to Connect conference last year, describing how he and Demand Progress fought against SOPA/PIPA, the online censorship act that was ultimately defeated.  Here he describes what drove him to become involved in this fight for a more free, open, and equitable Internet and ultimately, world.    Our deep condolences go to his his family, his partner, and his friends in our Internet tribe.