Today is Aaron Swartz Day

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Just saying it makes me incredibly sad and worn-out feeling about this mean old world.


Dammit, Aaron, we hardly knew ya.


Aaron Swartz is a loss for all of us.

Reading the book (Noam Chomsky’s Understanding Power), I felt as if my mind was rocked by explosions. At times the ideas were too much that I literally had to lie down. (I’m not the only one to feel this way — Norman Finkelstein noted that when he went through a similar experience, “It was a totally crushing experience for me. … My world literally caved in. And there were quite a number of weeks where … I just was in bed, totally devastated.”) I remember vividly clutching at the door to my room, trying to hold on to something while the world spun around.

For weeks afterwards, everything I saw was in a different light. Every time I saw a newspaper or magazine or person on TV, I questioned what I thought knew about them, wondered how they fit into this new picture. Questions that had puzzled me for years suddenly began making sense in this new world. I reconsidered everyone I knew, everything I thought I’d learned. And I found I didn’t have much company.

It’s taken me two years to write about this experience, not without reason. One terrifying side effect of learning the world isn’t the way you think is that it leaves you all alone. And when you try to describe your new worldview to people, it either comes out sounding unsurprising (“yeah, sure, everyone knows the media’s got problems”) or like pure lunacy and people slowly back away.

Ever since then, I’ve realized that I need to spend my life working to fix the shocking brokenness I’d discovered. And the best way to do that, I concluded, was to try to share what I’d discovered with others.






God bless Aaron Swartz. Or, use whatever sentiment works for you. He was a hero. RIP. May his ethos continue to inspire us all.

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