Sunday, January 13, 2013

Aaron Swartz, internet activist and builder of Reddit, RSS, commits suicide

January 13, 2013 /connektivism/ 26-year old Aaron Swartz, the computer prodigy-turned-activist died in his Brooklyn apartment on Friday. New York City’s chief medical examiner ruled the death a suicide by hanging.

At age 14, Swartz co-wrote the RSS, the tool that allows users to subscribe to online information. He was later admitted to Stanford University, but dropped out after a year. He then help develop Reddit, the social news website that was eventually bought by Conde Nast in 2006.

Swartz then engaged in Internet digital activism, co-founding Demand Progress, a political action group that campaigns against internet censorship.

In January 2011, Swartz was arrested in connection with downloading of academic journal articles from JSTOR online journal archive. He appeared in court in September 2012, pleading not guilty. Charges in the case, including wire fraud and computer fraud, were pending at the time of Swartz's death, carrying potential penalties of up to 35 years in prison and USD 1 million in fines.

A blog post from 2007 on Swartz's website reveals a possible cause for taking his own life: depression. In the post, Swartz describes his experiences with severe depression, as well as several other health issues, including migraines.