They came from all over Silicon Valley, hundreds packing the pews of an old church to pay their respects to Aaron Swartz, the 26-year-old programmer and Internet activist who took his own life this month.
They didn’t just come to mourn a fallen comrade, they said. They came to carry on his fight. The memorial service held last week at the Internet Archive, a nonprofit group that occupies a former church in San Francisco, was as much political rally as solemn tribute.
“Aaron Swartz was not a criminal. He was a citizen and a brave soldier in a war which continues today, a war in which corrupt and venal profiteers try to steal and hoard and starve our public domain for their own private gain,” said Carl Malamud, a technologist and outspoken advocate for open access to information.
In death, Swartz has become a political martyr for the cause he championed in life: making scientific and scholarly research — much of it taxpayer-funded — freely available, not sequestered behind online pay walls out of the reach of the public.