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Books that Aaron Swartz read, loved and hated (shelfjoy.com)
76 points by wowsig on March 10, 2017 | hide | past | favorite | 24 comments

I don't think my intense fascination with Aaron's life will ever fade away.

Sometime back, I thought of reading through his entire blog and came across his year-end reading lists wherein he would list anywhere from 70-140 books read in that particular year.

Because all these books were linked to books.theinfo.org (which is not alive), I decided to put it into a shelf where I could add them to my reading list and access them directly.

This is my very small attempt at spreading the sheer magic of Aaron's curiosity.

Currently, I have been able to add books from 2006, 06, 08 and 10. Its a work-in-progress.

If you haven't already, read The Boy Who Could Change the World: The Writings of Aaron Swartz [1] and watch this documentary (The story of Aaron Swartz) [2].

> I don't think my intense fascination with Aaron's life will ever fade away.

Yes, it still hurts to think about his untimely death and what could have been.

[1] https://www.amazon.com/Boy-Who-Could-Change-World/dp/1620970...

[2] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gpvcc9C8SbM

I know. I still think that he's around. Not able to wrap my head around his absence and for such a reason!

Is MIT's recent disobedience award a tacit apology to Aaron, unrelated, or a cynical attempt to change perception about MIT? One would expect Aaron to posthumously receive the first award if the intent were sincere.


I think it's worth noting that this is a Media Lab award, not one presented by the regular MIT administration. The Media Lab is given a lot of free reign and tends to do more out-there stuff. You should not construe them as speaking for the same people who betrayed Aaron (if that's how you see it happening).

Not to be pedantic, but I just learned a few minutes ago that "free rein" is the correct spelling, as in horseback riding. Thought I would share the knowledge.


MIT still looks out for #1.

That award comes from a particular lab that values creativity and defiance in the face of overwhelming odds (as would be needed for an amputee to become a dancer or athlete).

Is this another cynical list of books that is reaping clicks for Amazon Affiliate bucks?

Sorry to disappoint. But its far from cynical.

I made this because time and again, I found myself getting drawn to the choice of his books and wanted to get all of them in a single page.

Any such list will not make me any more than a few tens of dollars so the amount is so minuscule that it makes all the effort of manually adding all these books, quite laughable.

Most links posted on HN are "cynical" content that are "reaping clicks" for ad affiliate "bucks", welcome to the internet, Sir

While you're right most of the posts here are trying to get some pay off for the site in question (the incentive to post here is not as strong as reddit, for example), I think it's unfair to say most people are looking for ad affiliate bucks.

Plus, I can understand websites that use the affiliate system as long as they give me some long term value. I just don't think this website would do that.

I read Chomsky's Understanding Power on Aaron's recommendation [1]. I found it equally transformative.

[1] http://www.aaronsw.com/weblog/epiphany

I recently read Infinite Jest, and while I loved all the micro-essays and commentary, prose, and most of the characters' stories, the ending was a big "WTF."

So I Googled 'Infinite Jest Ending" to try and figure it out. Lo and behold, Aaron Swartz had written one of the best theories I was able to find, and while he's making a few assumptions about DFW's intent, it does help close the loop a bit.

Lots of spoilers, so I don't recommend reading this if you plan on reading the book anytime soon:


I had this moment on his commentary on Dark Night.

It is interesting how someone who read so much can have so few, if any, books in common with me (who reads around 50-70% as much as Swartz does in a year). There's really a ton of books out there for everyone :-)

And guess what, there's still 2 years of data still missing from this. I've been typing them all in manually so I thought of publishing a work-in-progress.

Really disappointed to see this flagged.

Since your effort seems heartfelt, we'll turn off the flags.

Thanks a lot dang.

I thought that this post was flagged because of something I did. Didn't realise that the flag was because of a nasty comment on Aaron. Feels bad to let that take away our HN #2 glory though :(

Another time!

I always wanted something like this. Just love the website.Awesome design and the site is well made. :)

I have written a script to compile all his blog posts into a .mobi ebook if anyone is interested



Uncivil rants and personal attacks like this one are not allowed here, including posthumous ones, because they're destructive to the community.

We detached this subthread from https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13839139 and marked it off-topic.

I would not say that he is insignificant. He helped make: RSS, Markdown, Deaddrop and more. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aaron_Swartz#Software_developm...) Your comment is wrong and grossly insensitive.

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