Aaron Swartz was a computer programming prodigy and hacktivist who played an instrumental role in the campaign for a free and open Internet and used technology to fight social, corporate and political injustices.
In 2000, at the age of 14, he co-authored RSS version 1.0, and shortly thereafter joined a working group at the World Wide Web Consortium to help develop common data formats used on the World Wide Web.
Swartz was one of the early architects of Creative Commons and a developer of the Internet Archives’ Open Library, a free book database and digital library open to the public.
He founded software company Infogami, and when it merged with online news site Reddit, he became a co-owner. There, Swartz released as free software the web framework he developed, web.py.
Swartz's work also focused on civic awareness and activism. In 2008, Swartz founded Watchdog.net, "the good government site with teeth," to aggregate and visualize data about politicians. He helped launch the Progressive Change Campaign Committee in 2009 to learn more about effective online activism. In 2010, he became a research fellow at Harvard University's Safra Research Lab on Institutional Corruption, directed by Lawrence Lessig. He founded the online group Demand Progress, known for its campaign against the Stop Online Piracy Act.
Swartz played a significant role in making government and academic data more available for free to the public. In 2011, Swartz was arrested by Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) police on state breaking-and-entering charges, after connecting a computer to the MIT network in an unmarked and unlocked closet, and setting it to download academic journal articles systematically from JSTOR using a guest user account issued to him by MIT. Federal prosecutors later charged him with two counts of wire fraud and eleven violations of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, carrying a cumulative maximum penalty of $1 million in fines, 35 years in prison, asset forfeiture, restitution, and supervised release. Swartz declined a plea bargain under which he would have served six months in federal prison. Two days after the prosecution rejected a counter-offer by Swartz, he was found dead in his Brooklyn apartment, where he had committed suicide. In 2013, Swartz was inducted posthumously into the Internet Hall of Fame. He was awarded the American Library Association’s James Madison Award for being an "outspoken advocate for public participation in government and unrestricted access to peer-reviewed scholarly articles.”
“Information is power. But like all power, there are those who want to keep it for themselves.”
― Aaron Swartz
Cryptocurrency & Blockchain
A cryptocurrency is a digital asset designed to work as a medium of exchange that uses strong cryptography to secure financial transactions, control the creation of additional units, and verify the transfer of assets.