Aaron Swartz

IRL Name: 
Aaron Swartz

Aaron Swartz was an American computer programmer, writer, archivist, political organizer, and Internet activist. He was a member of the RSS-DEV Working Group that co-authored the "RSS 1.0" specification of RSS, and built the Web site framework web.py and the architecture for the Open Library. He also built Infogami, a company that merged with Reddit in its early days, through which he became an equal owner of the merged company. He also focused on sociology, civic awareness and activism. In 2010 he was a member of the Harvard University Center for Ethics. He cofounded the online group Demand Progress (known for its campaign against SOPA) and later worked with US and international activist groups Rootstrikers and Avaaz.


On January 6, 2011, he was arrested in connection with systematic downloading of academic journal articles from JSTOR, which became the subject of a federal investigation.

He committed suicide on January 11, 2013 in New York City.

His family blames prosecutors for his suicide because he was due to go on trial for allegedly stealing millions of scholarly articles (The JSTOR Case).

Swartz volunteered as an editor at Wikipedia, and in 2006 ran for the Wikimedia Foundation's Board of Directors, but lost.

In 2009, he allegedly downloaded and publicly released approximately 20% of the PACER database of United States federal court documents managed by the Administrative Office of the United States Courts.