David Weinberger wrote a blog post recently on the lack of coverage of the scale and maturity of Aaron Swartz' accomplishments in his too-short life. I commented, sharing that I also saw this missing, and pointed to a Matt Stoller article that I said decently covered the breadth and depth of Aaron's non-tech work.

Actually, there is at least one major area of his non-tech work that Stoller's article does not cover. (To be fair, Stoller claims only to be writing about Aaron political work, not all of his non-tech work.) What I'm referring to is his almost stillborn project to work on his own personal development. I haven't seen anyone write about this, but it is completely explicit on his blog, in fact he had named it and even added a separate web page linking to the relevant articles all together: Raw Nerve. Of course Aaron was a self-reflective guy and had in some sense been working to improve himself in many ways for much of his life, but this was different, with a significantly greater sense of stepping back and really looking at his inner dynamics and how they could improve. As he puts it in his inaugural post, "I realized I’ve never stopped to ask whether I could get better at life."

This is one of the most heartbreaking things for me about Aaron's suicide (how to choose? - there are so many heartbreaks in it). He accomplished as much as he did despite his obvious personal challenges, and here he was starting to explicitly and seriously address them. Given his track record on other projects, one can have little doubt that he would have accomplished a lot in this regard, and very quickly. In my mind, all of his public work was done with one hand tied behind his back. What would he have accomplished in the decades ahead with both hands free?

Update: Remembering Aaron Swartz — memorial website full of stories from the people who's lives he touched

#   on: March 18, 2013       tagged: