The Longest Now


[Value NaN] Vignettes of pricelessness in everyday science
Thursday January 31st 2013, 8:42 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

There’s a certain quality to discovery, exploration, and discussion of priceless things.
(more…)



Exploring science in ten hundred words or less, and similar gems
Tuesday January 29th 2013, 6:27 pm
Filed under: chain-gang,citation needed,indescribable,knowledge,meta,poetic justice,Uncategorized

try and grok science
try and make a gun
try Sheldrake’s homing dove thought experiments

For dessert, some fraud:
listed, retracted, pharmed, 11-jigen (x6),
chilled(snapshot, comments).



Now I remember the flush of despair: cold crisp inverted insight
Sunday January 27th 2013, 7:30 pm
Filed under: Aasw,knowledge,meta

Larry’s foresight to clear schedules seems fair, from that inverted space.



Mystery Hunting, 2013: Pulling off an epic Coin Heist
Friday January 25th 2013, 7:50 pm
Filed under: Aasw,chain-gang,indescribable,knowledge,meta,Uncategorized,zyzzlvaria

Mystery Hunt 2013 pitted teams against Enigma Valley to rescue the Hunt coins from a vault.

As usual, it was full of some of the best puzzle ideas in the world.   (more…)



Max Kennerly’s vote for doing something about Aaron Swartz’s death
Thursday January 24th 2013, 5:28 pm
Filed under: knowledge,null,Uncategorized

The National Criminal Justice Commission Act (NCJCA) Spearheaded by Jim Webb (D-VA) is a first step towards high-level reform of our benchmarks for criminal justice – what is considerd acceptable, and what our justice system should be for in the first place. Most observers agree the system is broken in fundamental ways. It’s not clear to me why a review is controversial; but this act got only 57/100 votes in the Senate in 2011 and was filibustered. (The bill was Tracked over its history by the BulletPath Legislation Channel.)

Max Kennerly, one of the more level-headed critics of Aaron’s legal prosecution last year and this, suggests supporting the NCJCA this term. It was already very close to being passed.

Want to do something right now? Call up your Senators and Representative and tell them you’d like them to start moving again on the National Criminal Justice Commission Act. It failed in the Senate in late 2011, but it’s still bouncing around. Get it on Congress’ radar again.

Max’s Blog



Zoe Lofgren Drafts “Aaron’s Law” to fix the bad laws he ran afoul of
Wednesday January 16th 2013, 4:55 pm
Filed under: Aasw,international,Seraphic

Announced on reddit. Updates to come, including in a public lecture by Larry Lessig on February 19.



#pdftribute – a hack to share research in honor of AS.
Tuesday January 15th 2013, 3:58 am
Filed under: Aasw,chain-gang,fly-by-wire

Original idea by Eva Vivalt and Jessica Richman, site and scraper by Patrick Socha.

Well covered by Kerim Friedman.



Babbage on Aaron, in this week’s Economist, with love and regret
Tuesday January 15th 2013, 1:17 am
Filed under: Aasw,poetic justice,Rogue content editor,Uncategorized

Remembering his own past correspondence with Aaron:

On hearing of his death Babbage (G.F.) reviewed a number of e-mails he exchanged with Mr Swartz in 2000-01. The boy was in his mid-teens but his prose, taut and to the point, was as mature as his precocious mind. He wanted to know where your correspondent obtained book data for a price-comparison site. He even suggested a collaboration, regretfully unconsummated, that later became the nucleus of the Open Library.



Aaron’s first wiki concept: TheInfo, circa 1999
Monday January 14th 2013, 10:43 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

This is the project with which Aaron became a finalist in the ArsDigita Prize contest when he was 13:

Swartz’s contending creation was The Info Network  www.theinfo.org), an ever-growing encyclopedia-like site filled with “a vast repository of human knowledge” focused on content — real information for people to use, as he calls it.

The site works like this: Anyone can submit information about what they know in a totally open environment, which means they can add to the information freely.

“In the style of the popular GNU/Linux operating system,”Swartz added.

Users are allowed to edit another’s submission, but the program will always copy any original material so as not to permanently overwrite any copy.

Swartz’ online encyclopedia include sections on art, with subsections on rubber stamping and square dancing; a section on science, with subsections on treating burns and finding out what a palindrome is; and a chapter on life, with subsections on genealogy and religion.

It was two summers ago that Swartz starting toying with the idea of building such a site.

“I spent my days typing away at the keyboard, bringing my ideas into action,” he said.

Swartz said the kicker was when he realized (although it may have been easy for him) that it was really hard for people to post information online. “You have to set up a server, find a place to host it, learn HTML, or learn to use a Web editing program,” he said.

from the Chicago Tribune, June 23, 2000

Of all of the encyclopedia projects covered in Mako’s recent overview (there were almost a dozen in the years just before and after Wikipedia’s founding), this was closest in spirit and inspiration.



Westboro Baptists face off with Anonymous at Aaron’s service
Monday January 14th 2013, 9:47 pm
Filed under: Aasw,indescribable,Too weird for fiction

Yesterday, the Westboro Baptist Church (a cultlike single-family church that gets publicity for its extreme religious views by picketing high-profile funerals – such as those of soldiers returning from fighting overseas – with the most offensive chants they can muster) declared they would attend and picket Aaron’s funeral tomorrow. (via Salon) I suppose that is a sign that they expected it will generate publicity.

Anonymous, which has opposed WBC antics in the past, launched Operation Angel in response: to minimize the impact of such picketing, and help avoid the hounding of people like Aaron in the future.



*.MIT goes down; the Internet sees a Swartzite omen
Sunday January 13th 2013, 9:58 pm
Filed under: %a la mod,chain-gang,Too weird for fiction

TechCrunch and others noted that *.mit and the redirect doj.gov (not the treasury.gov website itself) were down for some time tonight, from roughly 7pm to 10pm.

MIT looked into the problem, and some reported a link to a router configuration bug that’s been happening sporadically in recent weeks. This didn’t stop many on the Internet from seeing an omen or intervention or DDOS attack related to Aaron’s death.

But there may be a connection. An hour ago, after access to most of the MIT network was restored, two specific MIT sites  cogen.mit.edu and rledev.mit.edu) were hacked by Anonymous to display a page remembering Aaron. The MIT Tech has the most up to date coverage: (“Anonymous Hacks MIT“)

The Anonymous message said, in part:

We tender apologies to the administrators at MIT for this temporary use of their websites. We understand that it is a time of soul-searching for all those within this great institution as much — perhaps for some involved even more so — than it is for the greater internet community.



From a sysadmin: the perils of reporting trouble (from MeFi)
Sunday January 13th 2013, 6:10 pm
Filed under: chain-gang,meta,null

As a former sysadmin at MIT, I was very curious about this case and eager for the facts to come out, and I guess they can, but not like this. Definitely not like this. I also had the job of chasing intruders out of a segment of MIT’s network (fairly light duty, actually), and having been there I will state the following publicly, because I am pissed off today. Seriously pissed off.

These over the top prosecution of nuisance intrusions makes sysadmins like me highly reluctant to initiate communication with the feds. The threat of criminal prosecution was enough to make Mr. Swartz back off from his actions. That’s why MIT and JSTOR backed off. Someone at DOJ decided to keep going, and he just made life harder for federal investigators in countless other cases, who will not be getting that first phone call from a sysadmin.

When an intruder is on my network, before I call the authorities, I want to know that the authorities will exercise judgement and prosecute accordingly. If he’s a criminal trying to use my resources for crimes, that’s one thing. If he’s a kid or a kook being a nuisance, then the authorities have a duty to exercise precisely enough muscle to scare him off my network and call it a day. If I have reason to think that the authorities will throw the book at a someone who is a mild nuisance, then I won’t make the phone call. I will investigate the intrusiion myself, kick him off myself, and keep my fucking mouth shut. These prosecutions are a waste of money, and today one of them became a waste of a life.



A personal note from MIT President L. Rafael Reif
Sunday January 13th 2013, 5:40 pm
Filed under: %a la mod,Glory, glory, glory,meta,popular demand

This just went out by email, from MIT President Reif, who was inaugurated president in September:

To the members of the MIT community:

Yesterday we received the shocking and terrible news that on Friday in New York, Aaron Swartz, a gifted young man well known and admired by many in the MIT community, took his own life. With this tragedy, his family and his friends suffered an inexpressible loss, and we offer our most profound condolences. Even for those of us who did not know Aaron, the trail of his brief life shines with his brilliant creativity and idealism.

Although Aaron had no formal affiliation with MIT, I am writing to you now because he was beloved by many members of our community and because MIT played a role in the legal struggles that began for him in 2011.

I want to express very clearly that I and all of us at MIT are extremely saddened by the death of this promising young man who touched the lives of so many. It pains me to think that MIT played any role in a series of events that have ended in tragedy.

I will not attempt to summarize here the complex events of the past two years. Now is a time for everyone involved to reflect on their actions, and that includes all of us at MIT. I have asked Professor Hal Abelson to lead a thorough analysis of MIT’s involvement from the time that we first perceived unusual activity on our network in fall 2010 up to the present. I have asked that this analysis describe the options MIT had and the decisions MIT made, in order to understand and to learn from the actions MIT took. I will share the report with the MIT community when I receive it.

I hope we will all reach out to those members of our community we know who may have been affected by Aaron’s death. As always, MIT Medical is available to provide expert counseling, but there is no substitute for personal understanding and support.

With sorrow and deep sympathy,

L. Rafael Reif



Funeral (Tuesday), Memorials (Next Week), and other events
Sunday January 13th 2013, 3:11 pm
Filed under: poetic justice,popular demand

Aaron’s funeral will be on Tuesday in Chicago:

10am at Chabad of Highland Park, Chicago
followed by internment at Shalom Memorial Park in Arlington Heights, Illinois.

Memorials will take place in a few cities over the next two weeks: including
Boston (at the MIT Media Lab)
New York
Washington DC
San Francisco

A Boston-area protest was planned in for 12:00 today at the MIT Counsel’s OFfice and the MA District Attorney’s office.



Gathered media on Aaron – national and international
Sunday January 13th 2013, 3:11 am
Filed under: Blogroll

You can add to the list here:
 https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?…



In Remembrance of Aaron (1986-2013)
Saturday January 12th 2013, 7:55 pm
Filed under: Blogroll,chain-gang,indescribable

Please send your photos, stories, and quotes to his memorial website:
Remember Aaron Swartz  |  Official family statement about his death

There will be a funeral on Tuesday in Chicago. Memorials in a few cities over the next two weeks: including Boston, New York, DC and SF.

Essays:

Danny: He was funny
Update: We talked. Ada cried, then we hugged, then Ada suggested we have a goodbye party, with ice-cream and sprinkles and a movie, and make a board where we could pin all our memories. We laughed at how funny he was. Aaron taught her so well.

Tim Berners-Lee: “Aaron dead. World wanderers, we have lost a wise elder…
James Grimmelmann: Aaron Swartz, Was 26.
Cory Doctorow: RIP Aaron Swartz.
Uncompromising, Reckless and Delightful

 https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2013/01/fa…

Quinn Norton: “My Aaron Swartz, whom I loved.
Make the world that wouldn’t have killed him, please.

Larry Lessig:  on Aaron and the prosecutor as bully.
He was brilliant, and funny. A kid genius.
A soul, a conscience, the source of a question
I have asked myself a million times: What would Aaron think?

Brewster Kahle: Aaron Swartz, Hero of the Open World, Dies

Erik Moeller and Tilman Bayer: Remembering Aaron Swartz
JSTOR: heartfelt condolences honoring Aaron’s memory.
Doc Searls: Losing Aaron

Chris Hayes, MSNBC: The Brilliant Mind and Righteous Heart of Aaron Swartz will be missed.


Media
:

New York Times (front page).
The Guardian (front page + 4 more articles)
WaPo’s Tim Lee: “Aaron Swartz, American Hero
Hacker News front page today:

 



Aaron Swartz, scholar, activist, and Internet hero, is dead.
Saturday January 12th 2013, 3:28 pm
Filed under: Blogroll,knowledge,meta,null,Seraphic,wikipedia

Aaron took his life yesterday. I am still finding it hard to believe.

His ongoing court case overshadows his death, so let me get that out of the way: 
He was living through a two-year federal case which had only become more nightmarish since last year.  (JSTOR stated it did not want a trial, and has steadily been releasing the PD articles in question and more for free public use; yet the prosecution, continuing its outrageous abuse of discretion, declined to settle and tripled their felony charges to cover up to 35 years in prison.)

Friends and family were helping him plan a campaign to spread the word about the unreasonableness and inequity of the trial. Its uncertainty was intensely stressful, even for those of us who lived only the tiniest fraction of it.  As Lessig notes, the prosecutors – Stephen P. Heymann (and at times Scott L. Garland), working in Carmen M. Ortiz‘s Cybercrime unit – should be taking a long hard look in the mirror and asking themselves what they are doing with their lives.


Aaron was a dear friend, and one of the most decent men I have known.  The only times I have seen him truly angry was in response to some social wrong; and he actively looked for ways to find and eliminate injustice. He always considered how to act morally – even when this meant being at odds with local social norms – and regularly paused at forks in his life to think about how to live so as to benefit society.

He kindled ideas from those nearby, and freely passed on his own.  Made mistakes often and tried to learn from them, usually publicly. His transparency was a useful meterstick for me. Ages ago, when we first met, I remember him brainstorming ideas about community and wiki design with Zvi and me; about learning and unlearning, society and ideals, civics and collaboration.  Once his curiosity was piqued about a subject he would pursue it until he could write about and explain it.  

~ ~~~ ~

I spent last night with mutual friends who live now in his old apartment, in a room that was once his; remembering the many great projects he started and inspired – especially the little gems, the personal quirks and insights, the inspiring ideas that became single-purpose services, or calls to arms. (We never did start a dog-walking service for data, but the idea abides.) Rereading some of his writings, I remember the many opportunities missed for synthesis, reframing, and clarity – about how life works, and how to live it.

Everyone has idealized dreams — what would you do with an unlimited wish? — about long-term projects worth devoting one’s life to, to transform the world. Dreams cherished but rarely attempted.  Aaron was the only person I felt completely comfortable sharing mine with.  We had a little game: a couple times a year we would meet in a nameless cafe, and he would ask for ‘rabbinical’ advice on moral quandaries, and I would ask for ‘professional’ advice on realizing societal dreams. I don’t know that he needed my advice, but I always looked forward to his. There was usually at least one book suggestion from his endless reading list that answered an open question of mine. And no matter how grandiose the dream, he would understand, clarify, laugh, counterpoint, help tune mental models, and remind me to get to it. And we never had quite enough time.

I miss him very, very, very much.   Part of my own future has gone missing too.

Somewhere, celestials are being taught to tune the cosmos.

 

In Memoriam:
Quinn. TBL. Grimm. Cory. Larry (^2). Cyrus Farivar.

The court case.
Alex Stamos (on the wrongness of the case).
New York Times (front page).
The Guardian (front page + 4 more articles)
The WSJ.

In his own words:
How to work.
How we stopped SOPA.
On feeling low and key limes.

From the Boston Wikipedia Meetup on August 18, 2009, by Sage Ross:




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