GitHub Memorial for Aaron Swartz Open to All


As a pioneer in freedom of speech, Internet openness, government transparency, and the availability of human thought, it seems fitting that a memorial built atop the fundamental nature of GitHub. Anyone with an installation capable of running “git” or “rake” can add their own memory.

The repository is available via GitHub,

Aaron was a tireless supporter of the open internet and an old-school hacker. To honor his memory and his contributions to technical community, Aaron’s family and friends wanted to provide a way to share their memories that:

  • uses free and open source software wherever possible
  • licenses its content under the Creative Commons
  • is open to the technical community to hack on and contribute to
  • leverages tools that Aaron used and contributed to, like Markdown and RSS

The site itself is a work in progress; we can’t do everything ourselves. To that end, we’d like to invite other programmers to contribute to the improvement of the site on Github. Here are more features we’d like to add:

  • make it easy for a broader community of contributors to share memories, perhaps via Github’s Javascript API and CORS
  • allows for sharing and contribution to Reddit
  • provide compatibility across a diverse set of web platforms

If you’d like to contribute, please fork the repo on Github and get hacking. Alternatively, you can email your memories to share them directly with Aaron’s family and friends, who will work to shift them onto the website as quickly as possible.

Already hundreds of memories have been added to the repository as well as statements. Through this mechanism, the memory of Aaron Swartz will live on through a method that has become a guiding light for open source developers and a repository for the history of an entire movement.

“Aaron had an unbeatable combination of political insight, technical skill, and intelligence about people and issues. I think he could have revolutionized American (and worldwide) politics. His legacy may still yet do so,” wrote famous blogger, Cory Doctorow, in his submission.

“What a Beautiful Essential Energy to our World. Mr. Swartz made me proud to be a Human Being. This tragedy is a result of a total imbalance of Power. In this case, the Bully was the Government,” wrote Maria Saldana Fountain in a post titled “Aaron Swartz.”

“Aaron’s death taught us that law is absurd when the law does not fulfill the society’s moral. The US Attorney, Carmen Ortiz, has excessively abused her power and public resource in this case. She is strong willed prosecutor but Aaron showed us that he is fearless in his belief and his innocence. Good be with you Aaron, we will not forget you and thank you for all the things you have taught us,” wrote Khoivu N in a post titled “Farewell.”

The memories are streaming in, including a heartfelt piece entitled “Modern Day Robin Hood” that you should read yourself by M Placentile.

So far, over two-hundred memories have been added but as time wears on there will be more. Swartz touched the lives of a lot of people, both inside and outside the strange culture of free and open source software, the Creative Commons movement, and many others. As everyone comes together over the tragedy of his death, we’re seeing a multitude of projects rise from the sorrow and as each community remembers him, there will be an obvious inventive use of his favored tools to do so.

You can read more of them at GitHub or fork your own repository.