Academics paying tribute to Aaron Swartz by making research freely available

Josh Peterson Tech Editor
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Academics across the Internet are posting their research to the Internet and sending it out on Twitter for free as a tribute to the memory of late Internet pioneer and activist Aaron Swartz.

The tweets is searchable via the hashtag #pdftribute and the website hashtag, or “#” attached to a word or phrase, acts like a tag that links tweets across Twitter as a category. They are used as a way to organize chats and conversation topics.

Swartz committed suicide by hanging himself Friday after a lengthy struggle with depression and a long battle with the Department of Justice over allegations of felony hacking — charges Swartz denied. He was 26 years old.

Swartz was charged with 13 counts of felony hacking for allegedly downloading millions of publicly funded documents from the online academic archive service JSTOR in January 2011 while in hiding in a closet at MIT. JSTOR dropped its charges against Swartz in 2011, but federal prosecutors had decided to press forward on the case anyway.

He faced a trial in April, a potential fine of a million dollars and 35 years of prison time.

Swartz’ many contributions to the development of the Internet since the age of 14 had made him into a folk hero to many in the Internet and tech community.

His many accomplishments including being a co-author of RSS 1.0 and the website framework; an early co-owner and co-founder of the social news site Reddit; and the co-founder of the online digital activist group Demand Progress — an instrumental group in the fight against the Stop Online Piracy Act.

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