Here and Now with Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson
Public radio's live
midday news program
With sponsorship from
Mathworks - Accelerating the pace of engineering and science
Accelerating the pace
of engineering and science
Friday, January 18, 2013

A Friend Remembers Aaron Swartz

Aaron Swartz at a Creative Commons event in 2008. (Fred Benenson/Wikimedia Commons)

Aaron Swartz at a Creative Commons event in 2008. (Fred Benenson/Wikimedia Commons)

Journalist and author Rick Perlstein got an offer out of the blue, back in 2005. A young man named Aaron Swartz contacted him and offered to build him a website for free.

The two ultimately became friends. Swartz would read through Perlstein’s material and send him reading lists.

After learning of Swartz’s suicide last week, Perlstein wrote a remembrance of his friend in The Nation, describing his initial thought when Swartz made the offer – that he must be a “loser” with “nothing better to do” if he was offering a free website:

How long was it before I learned instead that he actually was a ball of pure coruscation, the guy who had just about invented something called an “RSS feed” and a moral philosopher and public-intellectual-without-portfolio and tireless activist and makeshift Internet-era self-help guru and self-employed archivist and what his deeply inadequate New York Times obituary called “an unwavering crusader to make that information free of charge”—and, oh yes, how long was it after I heard from him that I learned that he was, what, 20 years old?

Swartz was a computer genius, an activist and, at the time of his suicide, a young man awaiting trial.


Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.

Experts share a range of perspectives on how to combat the Islamic State militant group, and the role the U.S. should play.

Robin and Jeremy

Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

November 26 7 Comments

Arlo Guthrie Celebrates 50 Years Of ‘Alice’s Restaurant’

Listening to the 18-minute musical monologue has been a Thanksgiving tradition among folk music fans for decades.

November 26 Comment

One Refugee’s Story Of Coming To America

Paul Okot vividly remembers landing at JFK airport in New York at 7 years old, after fleeing violence in southern Sudan.

November 25 3 Comments

Rapper Le1f Finds Struggle And Moral Diversity In American Music

We've been asking musicians what they think of when they think "American music." Today we hear from Khalif Diouf, aka Le1f.

November 24 7 Comments

Ferguson: One Year Later

City council member Wesley Bell looks back on the past year since protests and violence swept the Missouri city.