"I miss Aaron Swartz. He died 5 years ago today. He was a friend and a rare, huge, soul, and oh did he ever believe in freedom and the possibilities of the future. Wish you were still on call for late night IM strategy sessions, or philosophy, dear friend. I think of you."
I also appreciate this thought from a fellow HN poster: "'They say you die twice. One time when you stop breathing and a second time, a bit later on, when somebody says your name for the last time.'
That was not even close to the ending of Aaron Swartz."
"Five years ago, we lost Aaron Swartz. None should rest, for still, there is no peace."
And Arron's mum:
"RIP my darling boy. It's been 5 years. If you do one thing today, honor Aaron's memory by calling your Senators and Representatives in Congress and begging them to support #Aaron'sLaw to reform the CFAA (Computer Fraud and Abuse Act)."
I still mourn for what we lost. Aaron was only at the start, and he'd already done so much.
Here's an excerpt that you might find interesting: http://www.eagleman.com/sum/excerpt
Also a similar quote by Irving Yalom:
"Some day soon, perhaps in forty years, there will be no one alive who has ever known me. That's when I will be truly dead - when I exist in no one's memory. I thought a lot about how someone very old is the last living individual to have known some person or cluster of people. When that person dies, the whole cluster dies, too, vanishes from the living memory. I wonder who that person will be for me. Whose death will make me truly dead?"
I think about his quote quite a bit lately.
I wonder what he would have thought about modern facebook, google, and the extreme consolidation of american corporations.
These thoughts often come out of social pressure to conform, an invisible ever-present behaviour regulation, that we never explicitly agreed upon.
Social pressure is harmful to minorities, which is a problem, because we develop by minorities becoming the majorities.
Feeling watched builds up social pressure immensely.
Google and Facebook multiply social pressure, because watching is a fundamental and essential part of their business.
It's getting better, but not by accident. People like Aaron made it get better.
That's the loophole that many of the writers use to publish pre-prints from their own homepages. That did not stop the publishers from suing them:
And no, no real money from the publisher is involved.
Public wants new high-quality, available knowledge. Individual researcher are incentivized to publish often and in high impact journals. This in turn leads to both lower quality research (see replication crisis) and preservation of status quo in publishing.
Tangential: the way she's covered by Western media is such a crying shame.
Those with access to specialized knowledge had to be limited in number and properly initiated. Unfortunately, it seems like this pattern of social organization in which knowledge is jelously guarded and only available to the vetted privileged few is a very durable pattern in the organization of human civilizations.
Not to mention, even at the state schools, we just download the PDFs off Google Scholar because searching the databases is annoying. Nothings's really changed other than rhetoric.
There is also a lot of information, such as how to make rockets capable of reaching orbit, that is covered by ITAR that is still jealously guarded knowledge available only to the initiated few.
When the snoopers charter came in to the UK it was Aarons story (and what I read afterwards) that made me recognise the danger in such legislation. I wrote to my MP for the first time.
Aaron in lots of ways changed my life in that way. Ben I really appreciate your post.
Thank you for writing that, not a week goes by that I don't see your brothers hand in something I'm using or that I read about. The whole open access movement and what has been achieved in those five years would have made Aaron both very happy and would have probably had him bouncing off the walls because 'it goes so slow'.
Very few people appear to me to be all good but your brother was one of those. Cherish his memory and be proud, like any brother would be, and I'm pretty sure he'd be just as proud of you.
Aaron had mental issues. But those same issues were what gave him strength, because they were a part of him. If you took them away, Aaron wouldn't be Aaron.
If we celebrate people's flaws, maybe people won't feel like they're not allowed to have flaws. And maybe that might help people who feel like ending it.
The response to that was overwhelmingly positive. Over 20 people reached out.
It feels time to help people who are concealing problems. The internet gives us recourse. I don't know Aaron's motivations toward the end, but it feels true that if he had just kept talking, things might have turned out differently.
Be honest: If you were in a position of authority, would you place someone with known suicidal tendencies in a position of power? What if things went very badly? How about someone with outbursts of anger, or serious sleep issues that prevent them from showing up to work on time?
When people feel pressure to conceal their problems, the pressure builds.
Aaron had some political aspirations, and a felony conviction would've precluded him from running for certain offices. Maybe that, combined with his internal issues, may have made him feel like less of a person. I don't know. I just want people to feel okay with themselves, however they are.
Once people realize that it's genuinely ok to have issues, hopefully society will relax a bit.
Or maybe there is no solution, and people will eventually take their own lives for one reason or another. And that's ok too. We can remind them that it's not the only option, and give them some space to unwind.
That seems like the crux of it: People are so hung up on doing well or being a good person or accomplishing their careers, that their whole self-worth is tied up in it. When it goes badly, it's easy to take it out on yourself. But there's no reason to. The chips fall wherever they fall.
If you don't know then don't speculate.
No no, if you want to prevent suicide you should avoid specualting on what went on in a person's mind.
Suicide is a complex phenomena, and it's wrong to boil it down to one or two things.
Most people don't try, you know? It can be really hard for people who have stuff going on to find any kind of support.
And you'd think it'd be the opposite: family, friends, counsellors. Yet for some reason, people tend to eschew them during dark times. There's something worth exploring there, and I want to help somehow.
A decent example: https://www.reddit.com/r/TwoXChromosomes/comments/7q9eu0/my_...
In that case, it was trauma that almost led to suicide. But it was intensely private and humiliating. Of course she wasn't going to talk to her father about it.
If only there were a service for people in that situation to get real help, on demand. There are suicide hotlines, but many people are far more comfortable expressing themselves via keyboard.
I speak from personal experience.
That goes for you, too. If you ever find yourself in a dark place again, contact me. I'll listen.
The individuals that did this to Aaron are the ones suffering from a mental condition. The transitory struggles of life and emotions are universal and fundamental to living. Systems that embolden constructs like federal prosecutors are what is systemically flawed. Not the individual.
Carl Jung said something interesting about the importance of the ego:
"It was only after the illness that I understood how important it is to affirm one’s own destiny.
In this way we forge an ego that does not break down when incomprehensible things happen; an ego that endures, that endures the truth, and that is capable of coping with the world and with fate...
Nothing is disturbed – neither inwardly nor outwardly, for one’s own continuity has withstood the current of life and of time.”
Swartz’s attorney Elliot Peters accused Massachusetts assistant U.S. attorney Stephen Heymann of pursuing federal charges against Swartz to gain publicity.
Heymann was looking for “some juicy looking computer crime cases and Aaron’s case, sadly for Aaron, fit the bill,” Peters said. Heymann, Peters believes, thought the Swartz case “was going to receive press and he was going to be a tough guy and read his name in the newspaper.”
Heymann, the deputy chief of the criminal division in the Boston-based U.S. Attorney’s office, also headed the computer crimes task force there, a position Peters said “doesn’t carry much prestige and respect unless you have computer crimes cases.”
MIT’s behavior throughout the case was reprehensible, and this report is quite frankly a whitewash.
Here are the facts: This report claims that MIT was “neutral” – but MIT’s lawyers gave prosecutors total access to witnesses and evidence, while refusing access to Aaron’s lawyers to the exact same witnesses and evidence. That’s not neutral. The fact is that all MIT had to do was say publicly, “We don’t want this prosecution to go forward” – and Steve Heymann and Carmen Ortiz would have had no case. We have an institution to contrast MIT with – JSTOR, who came out immediately and publicly against the prosecution. Aaron would be alive today if MIT had acted as JSTOR did. MIT had a moral imperative to do so.
I’m glad that Sci-Hub exists. Though I’m not in research as such, it’s a painful exercise to find relevant information that’s useful and goes into some detail. I struggle with getting full papers from PubMed sometimes.
I think memories about unnecessary sad events like Aaron's death help us think about the significance of more profound, thoughtful analysis of problems at hand, that have direct impact on human beings.
This wasn't a public website. He connected to a networking switch in a controlled wiring closet with his laptop, and scraped information to non public servers from there.
Did this deserve the response he got though, absolutely not.
Here's a good article on how those ridiculously long, completely unrealistic, sentence claims come about so often for Federal cases .
I always love how people think the prision term is the only effect or punishment, 6 mos + a felony record for life which is not something that should be taken lightly.
Any felony conviction is a life sentence, you are a 2nd class citizen, you are denied everything from housing to employment, you are denied your rights as a citizen, can not vote, can not own a gun, can not do many things.
This moronic idea of "well it was really only 6mos" is bullshit.
http://web.archive.org/web/20110110080509/http://www.skrenta... <--- This is the collection I am most interested in. 1981-1991. Thankfully, one does not need Google to get it.
Importantly, to become relaxed and happy again without the feeling to have to become more and more productive or create legacy for ourselves or the ones we love is yet another even more difficult step.
There are very few self-help methods that do not have as Target to "improve yourself". Take your time and remember the good times of the past. These times are never wasted.
I still deal with this problem daily, I never feel that I'm good enough for my family to be happy for me.
I honestly have become better at this skill by being nearby when you exercise it. And I believe I have spread that to others in my life in turn. I absolutely would be a different person had our desks not happen to end up across from each other through three office shuffles. And I never met Aaron, but I believe by influencing those around you in this way you've done so much more to honor him than the two big ticket items you give yourself credit for.
When I heard what happened I was angry more than anything, and it reminded me to not take progress for granted.
I hesitate to bring this up because it'll probably sound more like criticism than a heads up, and I definitely mean it just as a heads up:
It was very jarring to get to the end of the post and have it followed up by "You should follow me on Twitter." I checked another post and it looks like it's just the footer on the blog, but without that knowledge it jumps out at you.
And don't feel like you have to live up to the image of someone else. Don't give yourself expectations on account of someone else. Set your own goals and expectations, from a place of self-compassion. And just like a good parent should never be hard on their child for failing to complete a project, neither should you be hard on yourself.
I'm sure none of that is helpful right now. But the next time you feel pressure or guilt rising up: Gently let it go. You don't owe anyone your peace of mind.
His blog posts are filled with a lot of information, insights, and thoughts that I usually don't get from other people. Whenever I go back and read his posts, they sound like a friend of mine talking to me.
Fun fact: For a little while she wanted to run for Governor of Massachusetts (good grief!), but the past of butchered prosecution of Mr. Swartz hunted her and she changes her mind.
RIP Aaron, I wish I knew you.
Note what happened, in that context, when someone who was not an American political activist did what criminal prosecutors were going after Aaron for:
Although I confess I have only read the first chapter or so, the book sets out to convince its readers that many of the things that can go wrong in the human brain ought not to be thought of as bad choices so much as automobiles in need of a part replacement (this metaphor rings true today in the case of, say, depression, which can often be remedied with pharmaceuticals). This may sound rather weak (especially from the point of a prosecutor ), but when looking at the details, it starts to make sense in a lot of cases.
For example: in the middle ages, what do you think people thought schizophrenia was?
I think of it like this. Perhaps every decision you make is /almost/ entirely determined by your current biological state and a long string of preconditions beyond your control. But… there is a sliver of freewill on top of this. And /with/ that sliver, you can choose to make incremental changes to your personal beliefs which molds your perception. By doing this, you essentially alter your biological state in a small way. This effect is cumulative, so you eventually start making different decisions than you would have, which changes your environment, and thus further changes the preconditions of your future. In this way, I believe freewill itself is cumulative. You are born with almost none, but you can develop it incrementally with effort.
No, this is a generalization. Without getting into a discussion on determinism you can call a "choice" a decision that a person is able to ponder, discuss, explain.
People can be temporarily pushed out of the ability to make rational decisions in many ways. Examples abound.
Correction: Examples infinite. If you're going to venture anywhere outside the realm of split-second fight-or-flight behavior such as with drug addiction or suicide, then you can rationalize anything as out of your control. You can also choose to take responsibility for your own actions; and let others take responsibility for theirs, rather than trying to rationalize away their agency, or yours.
The 5 people were:
Neil deGrasse Tyson / Brian Cox (couldn't decide!)
I made a proposal to my university (Dundee, Scotland), and really thought I had a chance since the building was derelict and that it was covered in shite graffiti. I was turned down because it was going to be torn down. People said I should have just done it, but I couldn't face the possibility of getting kicked out of uni because I graffitied the building.
> certificate error
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No net neutrality: Big companies will be able to afford paying to ISPs to get into "fast lanes", smaller companies will not.
SOPA: Big companies will be able to afford scanning user generated content for piracy, smaller companies will not.
End result is pretty much the same.
In fact, it is the 'benevolent' government that has abused surveillance, tried to corruptly enable large companies to censor the internet under the guise of 'anti-piracy' (SOPA), and pushed Aaron to suicide through prosecutorial overreach which Net Neutrality proponents want to grant more control over the ISPs over fear-mongering (like piracy) of prices/throttling. (despite the obvious failures of government-enabled regional monopolies)
I'm not sure if Aaron really took his own life or not, and I don't want to say anything insensitive, but I'll share a thought I remember having around the time of his death, which was that if he did kill himself, he was acting out of concern for the greater good -- in that by killing himself, he escaped being "made an example of" by the prosecution, and instead made the prosecution look extremely heavy-handed, and even guilty themselves. The hope would have been that for other folks facing similar circumstances in the future, his case would be remembered and other prosecutors would therefore choose not to go down that same road of trying to make an example out of someone with extreme punishment, for fear of creating another martyr.