This past weekend Aaron Swartz committed suicide after a lifelong battle with depression, and more recent battle with overzealous federal prosecutors and MIT. I did not personally know Aaron. We had exchanged some emails in 2010 about doing some freelance work for an issue wiki that Demand Progress was working on. But as person who lives much of his life on the internet, I am deeply indebted to him. He co-created RSS and a driving force behind the XML spec. Without either of these, we would still be hard coding updates to websites and relying on DreamWeaver to make terrible websites.
In 2011 Aaron was charged with wire fraud, computer fraud, unlawfully obtaining information from a protected computer and recklessly damaging a protected computer for “exploiting” a feature of JSTOR that allowed him to backup 2 million public domain articles. Aaaron was facing 35 years in jail and a $1 million fine. He would faced less jail time if he was a child pronographer.