Internet activist, programmer Aaron Swartz dead at 26

(Reuters) – Internet activist and computer prodigy Aaron Swartz, who helped create an early version of the Web feed system RSS and later played a key role in stopping an online piracy bill in Congress, has committed suicide at age 26, authorities said yesterday.

Police found Swartz’s body hanging in his Brooklyn apartment on Friday, according to the New York City Office of Chief Medical Examiner, which ruled the death a suicide.

Swartz is widely credited with being a co-author of the specifications for the Web feed format RSS 1.0, which he worked on at age 14, according to a blog post on Saturday from his friend Cory Doctorow.

RSS, which stands for Rich Site Summary, is a format for delivering to users content from sites that change constantly, such as news pages and blogs.

Online tributes to Swartz have been posted at a number of top websites in the technology world.

“Aaron had an unbeatable combination of political insight, technical skill and intelligence about people and issues,” Doctorow wrote on his blog at Boing Boing.

Swartz also played a role in building the news sharing website Reddit, but left the company after it was acquired by Wired magazine owner Conde Nast.

In 2011, he was indicted on computer fraud and other charges related to the unauthorized download of academic journal articles at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He pleaded not guilty. His trial was due to start in April.

Doctorow wrote that Swartz had “problems with depression for many years.”

Swartz himself described his struggles with dark feelings.

In an online account of his life and work, Swartz said he became “miserable” after going to work at the San Francisco offices of Wired after Reddit was acquired by Conde Nast.

More in World News

Comments

About these comments

The comments section is intended to provide a forum for reasoned and reasonable debate on the newspaper's content and is an extension of the newspaper and what it has become well known for over its history: accuracy, balance and fairness. We reserve the right to edit or delete comments which contain attacks on other users, slander, coarse language and profanity, and gratuitous and incendiary references to race and ethnicity.

Get the day's headlines from SN in your inbox every morning:

Most Read This Week

  1. Guyanese man, woman die in New Jersey car crash

  2. Five remanded over murder of Tain mother

  3. Ruby fisherman beaten to death after reportedly trying to rob woman

  4. Alleged mastermind in Tain execution turns herself over to police

  5. New Thriving Restaurant owed GPL over $90m at end of 2015 –audit

  6. Man succumbs after Haslington accident

  7. Five remanded over murder of Williamsburg phone card dealer

  8. Trump administration drafts plan to raise asylum bar, speed deportations

  9. GPL knew Colin Welch faked resume six months after hire – audit


Recommended For You