obituary

Remembering Aaron Swartz

Lawrence Lessig, January 12th, 2013

Lawrence Lessig and Aaron Swartz
Lawrence Lessig and Aaron Swartz (2002) / Rich Gibson / CC BY

Friends and Commoners,

It is with incredible sadness that I write to tell you that yesterday, Aaron Swartz took his life. Aaron was one of the early architects of Creative Commons. As a teenager, he helped design the code layer to our licenses, and helped build the movement that has carried us so far. Before Creative Commons, he had coauthored RSS. After Creative Commons, he co-founded Reddit, liberated tons of government data, helped build a free public library at Archive.org, and has done incredibly important work to reform and make good our political system. (DemandProgress.org, his most recent org, was instrumental in blocking the SOPA/PIPA legislation one year ago.)

More than all that, Aaron was a dear friend to all of us, and an inspiration to me and many of you. Our prayers are with his parents and those who knew his love. But everything we build will forever know the product of his genius.

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Remembering Lee Dirks

Puneet Kishor, August 31st, 2012

Two years ago, I was trying to organize my first Creative Commons-sponsored event, a joint CC-USGS workshop titled Law and the GeoWeb. I ran into Lee in the keynote room at the CODATA conference in Cape Town and asked him to suggest a speaker from Microsoft. Lee said he would do better — he would host the entire workshop at his digs at Microsoft Research in Redmond, WA. Several conversations and emails later the workshop was made possible with generous provision of the facilities, food, and transportation, and the entire workshop was also taped and archived for posterity, all because of Lee’s spontaneous offer. At one point I asked him, “Why?” Lee replied that that’s what he did, he worked to promote conversations on free and open access to science. That is simply what Lee did.

Lee Dirks and his wife Judy died this week in a car accident in Peru. The scientific and education community engaged in open access lost a champion and a friend.

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