Death of a Freedom Fighter, a writing challenge

Boy Genius: Aaron Swartz at the Creative Commons Salon, 9 March 2006, photographed by Buzz Andersen: click for original on FlickrThis photograph by Buzz Andersen has been haunting me for the last hour. It’s Aaron Swartz, seen at the first Creative Commons Salon in 2006. And over the weekend we heard news that Swartz is now dead, aged just 26, from an apparent suicide.

My challenge for today is writing something about the meaning of this bold and bright young man’s life and death. Something new to add to the whirlpool of words that has been devouring the internet from its geekier nether regions all the way to the mainstream press.

This is why, despite my expressed intention to write more last night about my slowly-evolving plans for 2013, I wrote no such thing. Having slept on it, though, I have an answer to both problems.

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About fucking time, Australian Defence Force!

Finally! After a three-year battle, the families of four Australian soldiers who committed suicide will receive ex gratia compensation payments. The amounts have not been disclosed. My feelings are very mixed — because this is very personal.

I’ve told some of this story before, in last year’s post Releasing the Black Hawk crash video was A Good Thing and this year’s Anzac Day Rememberings. I won’t repeat it all now — though I reckon your time spent reading those essays and following the links will be well spent.

All I’ll say today is something I said on Anzac Day:

I pray that the commanders of Australia’s military forces, and their political “masters”, will one day remember that there are more important, more admirable personal qualities than the ability to cover one’s own arse.

That four fine young men who volunteered for the armed forces ended up taking their own lives is a tragedy.

That there are people who have tried shifting the blame and who have delayed these four families receiving the justice and closure they deserve is truly, truly disgusting.

Notes users on suicide watch

“Putting [Lotus] Notes on iPhone is like getting out a piece of exquisite Wedgwood china and using it to serve a steaming pile of dog shit. Have you ever seen Notes? It’s not software, it’s a form of punishment. Companies that use Notes have to staff not only a help desk but also a suicide prevention centre — it’s that bad.” From The Fake Steve Jobs diary, via Memex 1.1.