Saturday, January 12, 2013

Remembering Aaron

Before I started this blog I used to spend a lot of time on Reddit  . One of my key motivation behind starting this blog was to write something which make it to the home page of Reddit .  It's taking a little monger than my initial estimate. I discovered Reddit  through a amazing blog Raw Thoughts  .Author of that blog was co founder of Reddit. He was and still is one of the smartest guy and one of the most insightful blogger  I know  .  His name was Aaron Swartz . A  teenager in USA who wrote specification of RSS. Worked along side Tim Berners Lee . He co founded Reddit  and after selling it to Conde Nast he became a full time political activist . sometime back he was in news for cracking into MIT Network and putting entire JASTR library in public domain .

  He committed sucide today . 

I was busy working in  my office. Enjoying warmth of direct sunlight on my back when I saw a tweet by Nilesh  My heart sunk . It was like someone has  punched me in my guts . It was hard to believe that Aaron Swartz is dead ,that he is not between us anymore . What is harder to believe is that he chose such a cruel way to say good bye . I went out for a walk,read some tweet till I couldn't read them anymore . I saw that Larry Lessig and Corry Doctrow  has written something about him . There  is a story in NY Times too . World will gradually wake up to the news . I went back to work . In the evening I went for dinner with friends . I was cracking jokes and it was a fun evening . I am back in my apartment  now and I was expecting that I will have courage to read those post now . I was wrong . I still can't look at them . I am writing this as much to distract myself from the objective finality of his demise as to share what I am feeling . sharing part is secondary .This will take sometime to sink in . I don't know how to deal with it.

I am not such a avid reader of Reddit any more. I moved on to slashdot, Hacker News and  now I spend an awful lot of time on Quora . But till this day  Raw Thoughts is my fave blog . the simplicity and depth of his writing is simply out of this world . Achieving such depth at an age of 25 is superhuman . I owe somuch of my learning to Aaron that loosing him seems like loosing your favorite teacher . you thought you had all your life to learn from him but one day ..boom ...he is gone . you are alone in this sea.your lighthouse is vanished .

I won't lie I looked upto him with a bit teenagers-ish  enthusiasm and reverence . When I had long hairs  I used to comb it like him . I followed his advice on book reading and it helped me in reading more than 50 books in a year .  Like him I also posted annual review of books . I must confess that I used to be a bit uncomfortable around gays and homosexuals. Though I respected them as individual and their choices but i was still uncomfortable . It was Arron's post which helped be understand  and deconstruct my thoughts  . Today I have few gay friends and I am totally comfortable around them . His post about smart folks helped me understand why smart people are smart  and His post about Hot  Girls made understand why my dating life sucked . His interpretation of Batman Movie and Toy Story make you look at them in entirely different light .  His most recent series Raw Nerves was amazing . I can go on and on here . Its not necessary  . All I can say is that you should read his blog archive  here . you won't regret it .

In his post on how to believe that you can bring a change in world and in yourself . He mentions this
Growth mindset has become a kind of safe word for my partner and I. Whenever we feel the other person getting defensive or refusing to try something because “I’m not any good at it”, we say “Growth mindset!” and try to approach the problem as a chance to grow, rather than a test of our abilities. It’s no longer scary, it’s just another project to work on.
Just like life itself.

Sadly He himself couldn't hold the faith and left us alone. In a post on this blog i had mentioned that i wanted to meet him whenever i visit USA .    I went to US last year and I dropped an email to him but he didn't responded . I thought may be we will meet some other time . Life is long . I was wrong . Life is uncertain . I won't be meeting him now in this life . I will have to leave one item unchecked in my bucket list .

Thank You Aaron . I am a better person because of your work . You were my hero and I learned a lot of things from you . Goodbye My friend. May your soul Rest in peace .

PS: I wrote this post directly in Blog editor and without any co herence of narration or structure . so excuse me if it seems like a rant to you .  I choose not to write about role of  alleged harassment of aaron which drove him to commit suicide . Am I angry ? Yes  But All this seems so meaningless  now .