Memory to myth: tracing Aaron Swartz through the 21st century
To understand his contributions, we have to look beyond the headlines. Tim Carmody on Aaron Swartz:
I met Aaron Swartz in Cambridge shortly after he’d been indicted for downloading lots of JSTOR articles on MIT’s network in 2011. My Wired colleague Ryan Singel had been writing about his story, and I’d talked a lot with my friends in academia and publishing about the problems of putting scholarship behind a paywall, but that was really the level at which I was approaching it. I was there to have brunch with friends I’d known a long time only through the internet, and I hadn’t known Aaron that way. I certainly didn’t want to use the brunch to put on my journalist hat and pepper him with questions. He was there primarily to see Quinn Norton’s daughter Ada, with whom he had a special bond. The two of them spent most of their time playing in a back bedroom; sometimes you could hear them laughing from the living room. And that’s mostly how I think of him still: a too-young father figure who occupied an immense role in the lives of people close to me.