Sunday, January 20, 2013

"Aaron Swartz committed suicide last week. He was 26, a genius and my friend." 
Bradley Manning has not committed suicide. He's 25, of average intelligence by all accounts,  and someone I've never met. He's also done more and risked more than Swartz could possibly imagine. Manning has been imprisoned for almost 3 years; in the opinion of many he's been tortured, and he's threatened with lifetime imprisonment under maximum security. Swartz was threatened with 6 months in what prosecutors have said would be a low security federal pen. Swartz acted in defense of an abstraction; Manning acted on principle and in the memory of the dead, specifically the foreign dead. Swartz was accused of breaking the law; Manning is accused of betraying his country. Swartz left it to his lover to find his shit-stained corpse. His last act was ridiculous, petty and selfish. He was not, nor would be ever have been imprisoned in Guantanamo. His suicide was an insult to the people who've been there for years. It was an insult to Bradley Manning. More than anything it's a monument to the narcissism of the American "creative class". [the comment was deleted]
Lawrence Lessig on Mark Zuckerberg:
"In 2004, a Harvard undergraduate got an idea (yes, that is ambiguous) for a new kind of social network. Here’s the important point: He built it. He had a bunch of extremely clever clues for opening up a social space that every kid (anyone younger than I am) would love. He architected that social space around the social life of the kids he knew. And he worked ferociously hard to make sure the system was stable and functioning at all times. The undergraduate then spread it to other schools, then other communities, and now to anyone. Today, with more than 500,000,000 users, it is one of the fastest growing networks in the history of man. That undergraduate is now a billionaire, multiple times over. He is the youngest billionaire in the world."
Rick Perlstein on Aaron Swartz:
"I remember a creature who seemed at first almost to be made up of pure data, disembodied—a millionaire, I had to have guessed, given his early success building a company sold to Condé Nast, but one who seemed to live on other people’s couches. (Am I misremembering that someone told me he crashed in his apartment for a while, curling up to sleep under a sink?)
Only slowly, it seems, did he come to learn that he possessed a body."

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