It's been a year since Aaron Swartz killed himself. The Electronic Frontier Foundation's Parker Higgins has posted a memorial to him that I found quite moving. I miss Aaron a lot.
I've been feeling pretty hopeless about the future lately, and I think a lot of it has been driven by the impending anniversary of Aaron's death. The last couple years were hard ones.
Aaron had a gift for identifying the problems that mattered, mapping a theory of change, and then taking it on, step by step. That approach allowed him to undertake challenges that many people, most people, would dismiss as impossible. That may be the greatest legacy of the central role he played in the historic SOPA blackout protests: he dreamed a way that an individual could make a small difference, and enough acting together were unstoppable.
It takes a tremendous human spirit to look at the failures of the institutions around us—from the breakdown of governmental checks and balances to its war on whistleblowers to the tremendous corporate influence on crafting anti-user policies—and not despair. Aaron taught us that we must not. He's inspired people to take up big challenges not out of reckless optimism, but because he believed that if we can see the change we want in the world, we are powerful enough to make it happen. From Lawrence Lessig marching across New Hampshire to address corruption in politics, to public interest groups banding together for a day of action against NSA spying, that legacy lives on.
We gave Aaron a Pioneer Award last year and continue to fight in his honor. Join us by demanding a fix to the CFAA and joining our month of action against censorship and surveillance and toward open access. Because in the end, the way to celebrate Aaron’s life is to come together and continue his work.
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