Aaron Swartz was a 26-year old genius that developed the first RSS agent and was a co-founder the popular social media site Reddit. Aaron should have been set for the rest of his life, but his passion to make private things public eventually led to him apparently hanging himself in his Brooklyn apartment on January 12th of this year.
He was a vocal opponent of SOPA (the Stop Online Piracy Act) and advocated making everything accessible on the Internet open to the public. He broke into MIT’s (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) network and downloaded millions of documents from their JSTOR archive which is available only by paid subscription.
Aaron was planning to release all of these documents on the internet and make them available for free. The problem was that he was caught on camera breaking into the network.
Aaron was charged and was looking at a trial and possibly over 30 years in prison. It appears he opted to commit suicide instead.
Micah Allen posted a suggestion on the best way to pay tribute to Aaron Swartz and his rebellious actions on Reddit and was surprised that his idea went viral.
Micah said “A fitting tribute to Aaron might be a mass protest uploading of copyright-protected research articles. Dump them of Gdocs, tweet the link. Think of the great blu-ray encoding protest but on a bigger scale for research articles.” He added “Edit: someone took the initiative- it’s happening!! Post your papers to hashtag #pdftribute”
Well, this mass message has gone viral. Will Micah Allen be charged for encouraging people to upload millions of PDF articles? We will have to wait and see.