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Suicida Aaron Swarts, genio del web, anima liberal inventore delle Rss

Stasera sono triste. Si è suicidato Aaron Swarts, aveva 26 anni, vivevca a Brroklyn, si è impiccatoera una delle grandi anime liberal della rete, aveva dato vita alle Rss. La depressione, scrive Le Monde, forse. Certo i processi e le richieste di anni e anni (30) per le sue attività di liberalizzazione del web non lo hanno aiutato.

Mi ricorda Alex Langer.

Aaron Swarts aveva fatto un anno alla Stanford University, poi aveva mollato. Da allora aveva dato tutto se stesso alla libertà della rete. Muore a 26 anni, guardate la sua faccia, era simpatico no? . Ecco gli articoli di stasera del New York Times, di Le Monde e un minimo di reference sul suo lavoro.

Aaron Swartz, Precocious Programmer and Internet Activist, Dies at 26

Published: January 12, 2013 96 Comments
Published: January 12, 2013 96 Comments

Aaron Swartz, a wizardly programmer who as a teenager helped develop code that delivered ever-changing Web content to users and later became a steadfast crusader to make that information freely available, was found dead on Friday in his New York apartment.

He was 26.

An uncle, Michael Wolf, said that Mr. Swartz had apparently hanged himself, and that Mr. Swartz’s girlfriend had discovered the body.

At 14, Mr. Swartz helped create RSS, the nearly ubiquitous tool that allows users to subscribe to online information. He later became an Internet folk hero, pushing to make many Web files free and open to the public. But in July 2011, he was indicted on federal charges of gaining illegal access to JSTOR, a subscription-only service for distributing scientific and literary journals, and downloading 4.8 million articles and documents, nearly the entire library.

Charges in the case, including wire fraud and computer fraud, were pending at the time of Mr. Swartz’s death, carrying potential penalties of up to 35 years in prison and $1 million in fines.

“Aaron built surprising new things that changed the flow of information around the world,” said Susan Crawford, a professor at the Cardozo School of Law in New York who served in the Obama administration as a technology adviser. She called Mr. Swartz “a complicated prodigy” and said “graybeards approached him with awe.”

Mr. Wolf said he would remember his nephew as a young man who “looked at the world, and had a certain logic in his brain, and the world didn’t necessarily fit in with that logic, and that was sometimes difficult.”

The Tech, a newspaper of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, reported Mr. Swartz’s death early Saturday.

Mr. Swartz led an often itinerant life that included dropping out of Stanford, forming companies and organizations, and becoming a fellow at Harvard University’s Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics.

He formed a company that merged with Reddit, the popular news and information site. He also co-founded Demand Progress, a group that promotes online campaigns on social justice issues — including a successful effort, with other groups, to oppose a Hollywood-backed Internet piracy bill.

But he also found trouble when he took part in efforts to release information to the public that he felt should be freely available. In 2008, he took on PACER, or Public Access to Court Electronic Records, the repository for federal judicial documents.

The database charges 10 cents a page for documents; activists like Carl Malamud, the founder of, have long argued that such documents should be free because they are produced at public expense. Joining Mr. Malamud’s efforts to make the documents public by posting legally obtained files to the Internet for free access, Mr. Swartz wrote an elegant little program to download 20 million pages of documents from free library accounts, or roughly 20 percent of the enormous database.

The government abruptly shut down the free library program, and Mr. Malamud feared that legal trouble might follow even though he felt they had violated no laws. As he recalled in a newspaper account of the events, “I immediately saw the potential for overreaction by the courts.” He recalled telling Mr. Swartz: “You need to talk to a lawyer. I need to talk to a lawyer.”

Mr. Swartz recalled in a 2009 interview, “I had this vision of the feds crashing down the door, taking everything away.” He said he locked the deadbolt on his door, lay down on the bed for a while and then called his mother.

When an article about his Pacer exploit was published in The New York Times, Mr. Swartz responded in a blog post in a typically puckish manner, announcing the story in the form of a personal ad: “Attention attractive people: Are you looking for someone respectable enough that they’ve been personally vetted by The New York Times, but has enough of a bad-boy streak that the vetting was because they ‘liberated’ millions of dollars of government documents? If so, look no further than page A14 of today’s New York Times.

The federal government investigated but decided not to prosecute.

In 2011, however, Mr. Swartz went beyond that, according to a federal indictment. In an effort to provide free public access to JSTOR, he broke into computer networks at M.I.T. by means that included gaining entry to a utility closet on campus and leaving a laptop that signed into the university network under a false account, federal officials said

Mr. Swartz turned over his hard drives with 4.8 million documents, and JSTOR declined to pursue the case. But Carmen M. Ortiz, a United States attorney, pressed on, saying that “stealing is stealing, whether you use a computer command or a crowbar, and whether you take documents, data or dollars.”

Mr. Malamud said that while he did not approve of Mr. Swartz’s actions at M.I.T., “access to knowledge and access to justice have become all about access to money, and Aaron tried to change that. That should never have been considered a criminal activity.”

Cory Doctorow, a science fiction author and online activist, posted a tribute to Mr. Swartz on, a blog he co-edits. In an e-mail, he called Mr. Swartz “uncompromising, principled, smart, flawed, loving, caring, and brilliant.”

“The world was a better place with him in it,” he said.

Of the indictment, he said, “The fact that the U.S. legal apparatus decided he belonged behind bars for downloading scholarly articles without permission is as neat an indictment of our age — and validation of his struggle — as you could ask for.”

Mr. Swartz, he noted, had a habit of turning on those closest to him, saying that “Aaron held the world, his friends, and his mentors to an impossibly high standard — the same standard he set for himself.” He added, however, “It’s a testament to his friendship that no one ever seemed to hold it against him (except, maybe, himself).”

In 2007, Mr. Swartz wrote about his struggle with depression, distinguishing it from the emotion of sadness. “Go outside and get some fresh air or cuddle with a loved one and you don’t feel any better, only more upset at being unable to feel the joy that everyone else seems to feel. Everything gets colored by the sadness.” When the condition gets worse, he wrote, “you feel as if streaks of pain are running through your head, you thrash your body, you search for some escape but find none. And this is one of the more moderate forms.” Earlier that year, he gave a talk in which he described having had suicidal thoughts during a low period in his career.

On Wednesday JSTOR announced that it would open its archives for 1,200 journals to free reading by the public on a limited basis.

Lawrence Lessig, who heads the Safra Center at Harvard and had worked for a time on behalf of Mr. Swartz’s legal defense, noted in an interview that Mr. Swartz had been arrested by the police in Cambridge, Mass., two years before his suicide. That arrest led to the eventual federal indictment and financial ruin for Mr. Swartz, who had made money on the sale of Reddit to Condé Nast but had never tried to turn his intellect to making money. “I can just imagine him thinking it was going to be a million-dollar defense,” Mr. Lessig said. “He didn’t have a million dollars.”

In an online broadside directed at prosecutors, Mr. Lessig denounced what he called the federal “bullying,” and wrote, “this government needs to answer is why it was so necessary that Aaron Swartz be labeled a “felon.”

Still, Mr. Lessig said, he had seen Mr. Swartz just weeks before, at a Christmas party at his home, and before that, at Thanksgiving. “He seemed fine,” he said.

Suicide d’Aaron Swartz, activiste à l’origine du format RSS et de Creative Commons

Le | 12.01.2013 à 17h31 • Mis à jour le 12.01.2013 à 18h22

C’est une des jeunes figures du Web, un militant du libre-échange sur les réseaux depuis son plus jeune âge, qui a disparu, vendredi 11 janvier. Aaron Swartz avait collaboré à la création du format RSS 1.0 alors qu’il n’avait que 14 ans. Il avait participé à la création d’organisations comme Creative Commons ou Demand Progress, ou encore du site Reddit.

Aaron Swartz a mis fin à ses jours à l’âge de 26 ans, a annoncé, samedi, le siteThe Tech après une confirmation de son oncle. Avec Demand Progress, Swartz avait notamment milité contre les lois antipiratages SOPA et PIPA.

Il était poursuivi en justice depuis 2011 pour avoir téléchargé et mis à disposition plus de 4 millions d’articles du site JSTOR. Mis en examen en 2012, il risquait jusqu’à 10 ans de prison. Pour faire face à cette longue et coûteuse procédure judiciaire, des amis d’Aaron Swartz avaient mis en ligne un site pour récolter des fonds.

Sur BoingBoing, le journaliste Cory Doctorow, qui connassait Aaron Swartz depuis plus d’une dizaine d’années, souligne que le jeune prodige souffrait également de dépression “depuis plusieurs années”“Il en parlait avec ses amis, et avait écrit sur le sujet”, rappelle-t-il. “Aujourd’hui, nous avons perdu quelqu’un qui avait encore beaucoup de travail à faire, et qui a contribué à faire du monde un meilleur endroit”.

RSS (acronimo di RDF Site Summary[1], spesso riportato come Really Simple Syndication[2]) è uno dei più popolari formati per la distribuzione di contenutiWeb; è basato su XML, da cui ha ereditato la semplicità, l’estensibilità e la flessibilità. L’applicazione principale per cui è noto sono i flussi RSS che permettono di essere aggiornati su nuovi articoli o commenti pubblicati nei siti di interesse senza doverli visitare manualmente uno a uno.

Aaron Swartz is the founder of Demand Progress, which launched the campaign against the Internet censorship bills (SOPA/PIPA) and now has over a million members. He is also a Contributing Editor to The Baffler and on the Council of Advisors to The Rules.

He is a frequent television commentator and the author of numerous articles on a variety of topics, especially the corrupting influence of big money on institutions including nonprofitsthe mediapolitics, and public opinion. From 2010-11, he researched these topics as a Fellow at the Harvard Ethics Center Lab on Institutional Corruption. He also served on the board of Change Congress, a good government nonprofit.

He has also developed the site His landmark analysis of Wikipedia, Who Writes Wikipedia?, has been widely cited. Working with Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee at MIT, he helped develop and popularize standards for sharing data on the Web. He also coauthored the RSS 1.0 specification, now widely used for publishing news stories.

His piece with photographer Taryn Simon, Image Atlas(2012), is has been featured in the New Museum. In 2007, he led the development of the nonprofit Open Library, an ambitious project to collect information about every book ever published. He also cofounded the online news site Reddit, where he released as free software the web framework he developed,

da Wikipedia:

Aaron Swartz (Chicago8 novembre 1986 – New York11 gennaio 2013) è stato un programmatorescrittoreattivista statunitense, è stato co-autore della prima specifica del RSS. Ha co-fondato Reddit e il gruppo di attivismo online DemandProgress. È stato anche un membro del Harvard University Ethics Center Lab. Il 19 luglio 2011, era stato arrestato per aver scaricato migliaia di articoli scientifici da JSTOR e in attesa di processo, rischiando fino a 35 anni di carcere. Aaron si è suicidato l’11 gennaio 2013 a New York City.


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