Aaron Swartz, late hacker and Internet activist, has been inducted into the Internet Hall of Fame. The announcement of the 32 inductees for 2013 was made last week in both Washington, D.C. and Geneva, Switzerland. When the ceremony is live streamed on August 3 in Berlin, Germany, Aaron Swartz will posthumously receive an honor also held by former Vice President of the United States Al Gore, World Wide Web inventor Sir Tim Berners-Lee, and “Father of the Internet” Vint Cerf.
The honor, described on his inductee page, is for Mr. Swartz’ role as “a computer programming prodigy and activist who played an instrumental role in the campaign for a free and open Internet and used technology to fight social, corporate and political injustices.” Mr. Swartz co-authored RSS version 1.0 and participated in a group to develop other common data formats at the World Wide Web Consortium. He was one of the early architects of Creative Commons and developer of Open Library, an initiative of Internet Archive. Aaron Swartz also co-founded two organizations: Watchdog.net and Demand Progress. Watchdog.net serves to create greater political transparency. Demand Progress has a mission to “win progressive policy changes for ordinary people through organizing and grassroots lobbying.”
Y Combinator had Aaron Swartz in its original batch in Summer 2005. That effort produced Infogami, a wiki application framework, and the web.py framework for Python. Subsequently, Infogami merged with reddit, the web.py framework powered the original reddit infrastructure, and Aaron Swartz became commonly known as one of the reddit founders.
Aaron Swartz passed on at the age of 26 on January 11, 2013. When he died, a portrait of the Y Combinator logo filled the background of Aaron Swartz’ Twitter account. Aaron’s death followed two years of protracted federal allegations. Those allegations ultimately consisted of nothing more than that he allegedly downloaded too many documents from an academic digital library called JSTOR. An Internet memorial was created called Remember Aaron Swartz. From the attention gained by his death, Aaron’s final contribution to the Internet may be through revisions to the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act of 1986 in the form of the proposed Aaron’s Law.
Among the other nine Innovators inducted into the Internet Hall of Fame in 2013 are author of NCSA Mosaic web browser and Netscape co-founder Marc Andreessen, Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, and Electronic Frontier Foundation founder John Perry Barlow. The Internet Hall of Fame celebrates Innovators, Pioneers, and Global Connectors from around the world “who believed in the design and potential of an open Internet and, through their work, helped change the way we live and work today.” Internet Society organizes the annual Internet Hall of Fame awards program to publicly recognize a distinguished and select group of visionaries, leaders and luminaries who have made significant contributions to the development and advancement of the global Internet.