A Great Loss

The technology community and whole world lost an amazing person two years ago today…

Photograph of Aaron Swartz

Aaron Swartz • November 8, 1986 – January 11, 2013

I did not know Aaron well at all; there were just some brief exchanges of communication between us in email and on Twitter.

One time, he mentioned that ᏣᎳᎩ (“Cherokee” in the Cherokee language) was perhaps his favorite name for a language.

Being that I strongly agreed and had also gotten the letters ᏣᎳᎩ tattooed on my body, I responded:

@aaronsw Me too, but it’s in my blood & inked on my arm. :-)

— 42-Byte Nonce (@brianshumate) March 25, 2011

He then asked me for a pic:

@brianshumate pic?

— Aaron Swartz (@aaronsw) March 25, 2011

I don’t have an Instagram account or really use my Twitter account any longer, so here is the image that I replied with on that day:

My ᏣᎳᎩ Tattoo

A typical brief exchange on Twitter — I’d also expressed interest in some of his personal projects and working with him on those, but we’d unfortunately never managed to make that happen.

Thanks for Everything

Aaron was an exceptional human being who exerted incredible amounts of energy in the true hacker spirit while pursuing a never-ending quest for knowledge. He also made some significant changes in this world.

Here are some things he did or helped to do:

This is of course, a fantastic track record and a list of amazing contributions for a person of such a young age.

If you are not familiar with the life of Aaron Swartz, you can learn a good deal about him by watching the documentary The Internet’s Own Boy.

We Miss You

A great deal of folks miss Aaron and the list of those who actually knew him well is long. There is no telling what he could have accomplished if he could have remained here with us, and I think that we all wonder about that a lot. That our government here in the United States bullied him until he apparently could no longer live a peaceful existence is unfortunate, sad, and most tragic.

I am often saddened by the loss of Aaron to his family and to our greater community of nerds, and also upset that I could not have known him better.

Most of all, I am sad for the loss of such potential he could have continued to share with and for a better world, but I am always happy that he lived.

I celebrate his life and all he gave us.

Rest in peace, Aaron.