Category Archives: Technology

The Loss of a Genius…Aaron Swartz Takes His Own Life

 So sad… 

As an eighth-grader in Winnetka, Illinois, Aaron Swartz showed signs of
the computer wizardry that would lead to his Internet activism and
development of software used by websites worldwide.

But the
Highland Park native who had attended North Shore Country Day School in
Winnetka and as a 13-year-old had created an online public encyclopedia
for a school competition got into trouble as an adult.

He faced trial in April on federal charges that he had illegally
downloaded millions of journal articles from the Massachusetts Institute
of Technology with the intention of posting them to a file-sharing
site.

The prospect of the trial was too much for him, his family
said. Swartz, 26, committed suicide inside his New York apartment,
authorities said Saturday.

In a statement sent through a
spokesman, his family said Swartz hanged himself the day before out of
worry that he faced more than 30 years in federal prison.

“Aaron’s
insatiable curiosity, creativity, and brilliance; his reflexive empathy
and capacity for selfless, boundless love; his refusal to accept
injustice as inevitable — these gifts made the world, and our lives, far
brighter,” the statement in part read.

Along with developing an
early version of rich site summary, or RSS, technology, Swartz is
credited with co-founding the popular Reddit website that allows users
to vote for their favorite news stories of the day.

In a talk in 2007, Mr. Swartz described having had suicidal thoughts
during a low period in his career. He also wrote about his struggle with
depression, distinguishing it from 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.”

Was he gay? Was he BI?  According to him, no, he was not.  From a piece he wrote in 2009;  “Why I Am Not Gay“:

Having sex with other people of your gender isn’t an
identity, it’s an act. And, like sex in general among consenting adults,
people should be able to do it if they want to. Having sex with someone
shouldn’t require an identity crisis. (Nobody sees
having-sex-with-white-people as part of their identity, even if that’s
primarily who they’re attracted to.)

People shouldn’t be forced to categorize themselves as “gay,”
“straight,” or “bi.” People are just people. Maybe you’re mostly
attracted to men. Maybe you’re mostly attracted to women. Maybe you’re
attracted to everyone. These are historical claims — not future
predictions.

If we truly want to expand the scope of human freedom, we should
encourage people to date who they want; not just provide more
categorical boxes for them to slot themselves into. A man who has mostly
dated men should be just as welcome to date women as a woman who’s
mostly dated men.

So that’s why I’m not gay. I hook up with people. I enjoy it. Sometimes
they’re men, sometimes they’re women. I don’t see why it needs to be any
more complicated than that.