The Life of Aaron Swartz... Leaving an Anonymous Aftermath

A short history of the life and work of Aaron Swartz... Along with the aftermath of his tragic death.


  1. Tuesday, January 29, 2013...

    After the recent death of Aaron Swartz, the online community has found themselves in a position of disbelief that such a brilliant young man could have been placed in such a horrible position. On January 11th, 2013 Aaron Swartz was found hung in his Brooklyn, New York apartment. What happened next is an unprecedented response by individuals all over the internet and the world. This is Aaron's story....

    On November 8th 1989, Aaron Swartz was born in Chicago, Illinois to Susan and Robert Swartz. A computer genius himself, Robert Swartz soon introduced the world of computing to his son Aaron.

    Fascinated by computers from an early age, Aaron dove into the study of programming, the internet, and the culture that accompanies the various forums and blogs that he found himself in.

    He began to use his skills to create practical applications for people all over the internet to use. At the age of fourteen, Aaron entered a group of individuals who were working on creating the first version of RSS (Rich Site Summary). This was a software which was used as a means publishing frequently updated works such as blogs, videos, and music. Simply put, it allowed for an easy catalog to be made of content.

  2. On October 26, 2011... SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) was introduced into the House of Representatives by United States Representative Lamar S. Smith (R) in the hopes of allowing U.S. law enforcement to prosecute individuals who had been involved with the online trafficking of copyrighted intellectual property. Instead of going into great detail about SOPA, the following video gives a great explanation... 

  3. Below, we see a speech given by Aaron in the wake of SOPA and PIPA being taken down. It describes the short history of these bills, and his relentless effort to stop them.
  4. F2C2012: Aaron Swartz keynote - "How we stopped SOPA"
  5. Many people were angered, and believed that MIT and JSTOR had some part in the death of Aaron.

    Also the justice department, and the jusrtice system in general.

    MIT servers brought down
    government websites brought down

    MIT soon released.. President Rafael Reif stated... 

    "To the members of the MIT community:

    Yesterday we received the shocking and terrible news that on Friday in New York, Aaron Swartz, a gifted young man well known and admired by many in the MIT community, took his own life. With this tragedy, his family and his friends suffered an inexpressible loss, and we offer our most profound condolences. Even for those of us who did not know Aaron, the trail of his brief life shines with his brilliant creativity and idealism.

    Although Aaron had no formal affiliation with MIT, I am writing to you now because he was beloved by many members of our community and because MIT played a role in the legal struggles that began for him in 2011.

    I want to express very clearly that I and all of us at MIT are extremely saddened by the death of this promising young man who touched the lives of so many. It pains me to think that MIT played any role in a series of events that have ended in tragedy.

    I will not attempt to summarize here the complex events of the past two years. Now is a time for everyone involved to reflect on their actions, and that includes all of us at MIT. I have asked Professor Hal Abelson to lead a thorough analysis of MIT's involvement from the time that we first perceived unusual activity on our network in fall 2010 up to the present. I have asked that this analysis describe the options MIT had and the decisions MIT made, in order to understand and to learn from the actions MIT took. I will share the report with the MIT community when I receive it.

    I hope we will all reach out to those members of our community we know who may have been affected by Aaron's death. As always, MIT Medical is available to provide expert counseling, but there is no substitute for personal understanding and support.

    With sorrow and deep sympathy,

    L. Rafael Reif"

  6. However, this was not the only response by Anonymous due to the death of Aaron Swartz. Soon after his death, the Westboro Baptist Church (WBC) made a statement that they would be picketing the funeral of Aaron Swartz. The WBC is an American independent Baptist church known or its hatred of homosexuals. However, during the time of Aaron's death, Anonymous the hacktavist group was actively attacking WBC in #OpWBC. Many believe, this back and forth between Anonymous and WBC is the reason that WBC decided to protest Aaron Swartz.

    In a statement by the so called church only twenty-four hours after Aaron's death, the WBC stated,


    For over 20 years Westboro has warned the people of Topeka, Kansas and America that the policies of sin of this land have brought the wrath of God upon you, your houses, your city, your state, and your nation. The whole nation has responded with great malice and rage, trying in every way to silence our kind message of obedience and hope. Cyber criminals are the latest face of this nation's and this world's raging at God and His Servants at WBC. When you raging rebels give these cyber criminals encouragement in their crimes against WBC, God turns their crimes on you. What to do? Now the gloves are off, cyber rebels! God has stepped onto this field of battle, and He knows how to repay you to your face! God's promise to WBC: "For thus saith the LORD of hosts; After the glory hath he sent me unto the nations which spoiled you: for he that toucheth you toucheth the apple of his eye." Zechariah 2:8 YIKES, Cyber-Rebels! We will picket this funeral, the LORD willing, so that in that Great Day of His Wrath, your blood is not on our hands. Cyber criminals fulfilled God's words, to wit: "[WBC is] for peace: but when [they] speak, [cyber criminals] are for war." Psalms 120:7 When God takes vengeance, it’s time for His servants to say: "He shall be buried with the burial of an ass." Jeremiah 22:19 AMEN!


  7. In response to the attack on Aaron Swartz, Anonymous once again sprung into action to fight the hatred of WBC.

    #OpAngel was released...
  8. What is amazing, is that the threats against the WBC worked out. Within a few hours of the video being posted, WBC released a statement that they would not be picketing the funeral of Aaron.
  9. Part of #OpAngel was a series of protests that were aimed toward bringing justice for Aaron....
  10. The main goal of these protests was to bring to light the "Aaron Amendment". Additionally, the point was to bring to light the injustice that was forced upon Aaron during his legal battle. The protests had a definite impact...
  11. Even days after Aaron Swartz died, the battle raged on over social networking sites like twitter. Hundreds of angry individuals voiced their opinions about Aaron with #JusticeForAaronSwartz
  12. In conclusion, Aaron Swartz is a name that will not be forgotten.

    "Information is power. But like all power, there are those who want to lee it for themselves." - Aaron Swartz

    Authors Note: I have been watching this case from the beginning, and I was deeply hurt by the death of Aaron. My only hope is that I have done justice in telling the events that have happened. Aaron deserves to be remembered, and this history is my way of preserving his ideals, ideas, and life.