The world of computer technology is full of young geniuses that at a young age have developed enormous technological advances. Aaron Swartz was one of them. At the age of 14, he collaborated in the development of RSS technology, which allows users to subscribe to content feeds, and which led to the explosion of readers for organizing Internet content. At age 19 he founded the company that developed the Reddit platform, one of the most important social networks in the world, based on uploading links and text which users then vote up or down as being relevant. Last Friday his girlfriend found him dead in his apartment.
He was known as an Internet activist throughout his entire life, and a promoter of free access to information, which he displayed by publicly sharing private online documents from an array of public sectors. In fact, in 2011 he was arrested by the FBI and accused of trying to steal thousands of private documents from MIT, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which were stored on an academic catalog known as JSTOR. He faced up to 35 years in prison, and a $1 million fine. Perhaps this was the beginning of the end.
Officially, the cause of his death seems to be suicide, according to an official statement released on Saturday, which could have been caused by his battle with depression and health issues.
The news has caused a wave of criticism towards the judicial system, as well as a large showing of support from those familiar with his work. For example, many MIT students and faculty have published private documents of MIT Copyrighted material on their Twitter accounts. Also, Anonymous hacked the university’s official website and left a message in memory of Aaron Swartz.
Swartz’s legacy in the Internet world will never be forgotten. RSS gained favor among Internet users as a convenient and practical way to read online content, allowing you to easily organize and manage it. It later served as a model for many of the different digital content consumption platforms. What’s more, Reddit has become a model for informative collaboration that has been copied and adapted to countless languages and countries throughout the world.