Crosby Stills and Nash, Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, the Doors, the Eagles, all became his friends and subjects.
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.