[Originally posted to Remember Aaron Swartz]
I maintain pkgsrc packages of some of Aaron’s software, and over the last decade or so would occasionally send him bits and pieces of code. Along the way we somehow discovered that we’d grown up a couple hundred meters apart, separated by a driveway and some trees. (If only we’d known, and been around at the same time, our common interests would doubtless have made us fast friends.)
When sending patches I’d always ask what he’d been up to lately, because it was always something new and ambitious, even audacious. We were just nerds on the Internet whose paths occasionally crossed, but I felt like I knew him better than that. Above all, he had managed to hold fast to a way of thinking about our world — as evidenced by his writing and his actions — that I had forced myself to hold rather more loosely. I always admired him for that.
Had we had the chance to know each other better, I’m quite sure I’d have admired Aaron for much more.