Aaron Swartz (1986 – 2013) was an American computer programmer, entrepreneur, writer, political organizer, and Internet hacktivist.
He was involved in the organization Creative Commons, and the social news site Reddit, in which he became a partner after its merger with his company, Infogami.
Swartz participated very actively as an editor at the English Wikipedia. In 2006, Swartz wrote an analysis of how Wikipedia articles are written, and concluded that the bulk of the actual content comes from tens of thousands of occasional contributors, or “outsiders”, each of whom may not make many other contributions to the site, while a core group of 500 to 1,000 regular editors tend to correct spelling and other formatting errors. According to Swartz: “the formatters aid the contributors, not the other way around.” His conclusions, based on the analysis of edit histories of several randomly selected articles, contradicted the opinion of Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales, who believed the core group of regular editors were providing most of the content while thousands of others contributed to formatting issues. Swartz came to his conclusions by counting the total number of characters added by an editor to a particular article, while Wales counted the total number of edits.
Swartz, who was considered one of the brightest young minds in tech activism, hanged himself on Friday night in his Brooklyn apartment. He had been struggling with depression for many years.
Swartz was portrayed by prosecutors as a computer hacker who had wrongfully accessed some free documents from an on-line academic journal repository at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
there was no mention of Swartz’s programming skills, his genius or his contributions to society (co-developed RSS, a system of constantly updating subscription feeds, at age 14 – instrumental in creation of Reddit – a proponent of free information – etc.). According the federal indictment, he was charged with hacking a not-for-profit organization (JSTOR) from “a restricted computer wiring closet in the basement of MIT to download millions of articles from academic journals” (many of which were available for free).
Open access (OA) refers to online research outputs that are free of all restrictions on access. Open access can be applied to all forms of published research output, including peer-reviewed and non peer-reviewed academic journal articles, conference papers, theses, book chapters, and monographs.
Should knowledge be free?