Man, I should really post some of these cute pics to a blog or something. Oh yeah, I have one of those!
I just picked up a copy of Desk.pm after reading about it on HN. At the base, it’s an ingenious, but long overdue idea – an offline/local blog-publishing tool that adopts the style of a focused-writing editor.
I’m very hopeful that this lowered friction will have me publishing more often. Desk.pm is relatively expensive to drop sight unseen ($30 on the Mac App Store) and still quite young, so we’ll see how it works out.
Current Summary (2015-01-27, v1.1 (5)):
- While it has potential, it also has a bunch of deal-breakers for me so I can’t really recommend it right now, but this may change as it gets updated.
- Basic editing stuff is slightly buggy (paragraphs!) or missing (embeds/source-editing)
- Publishing model feels wrong
- Be sure to check out the forums: http://talk.desk.pm/c/support/ideas
Here are some thoughts so far (I’ll be adding to this as I use it more)
- The minimal approach is nice, but there probably should be a bit more of a getting started guide (dismissable, of course). Also, there are a lot of hidden options, like spell-checking and some other globals should probably be something that you can set-up on start.
- Changing the blog-post title is a lot less obvious that it should be. It took me forever to figure out that it’s under “Rename…” in the File menu or you need to hover over over the topbar and click to rename. It feels like maybe “Rename…” should be replaced with a “Post Info” palette or something, and that there should be an option for having a Title Bar/Field that can auto-hide or stick at the top (especially useful if there’s support for tags, categories, post-date, what have you).
- Publishing is actually more confusing than I’d like as well. Ideally, I’d like to be able to simply see my state and toggle it. For example, here’s how bad/confusing things are. Currently, I’m editing a new draft that’s saved in a “Blog”. Great. However, when I go to “Blog > Publish”, it brings up a sidebar where I have to select my blog again, and then use a pull-down to update the status? As far as I can tell, I have to do this every time I want to update my post. It seems like I should only have to set my publish settings for a blog post in a modal once, and simply be able to publish after that. Also, it seems like I should be able to have some sort of auto-publish behavior or barring that, some sort of way to be able to tell when this saved post is different from my published post. (A slick way would be a diffing view I suppose, but something should show my last saved vs last published time and if it’s different at least).
- I like the Medium-style inline callouts on selection in theory, but in practice, they’re sort of annoying: I wish I could just disable it. There’s nothing there that I shouldn’t be able to do better keyboard-only.
- Markdown auto-conversion is nice, although I do wish it was a bit more responsive. Hackpad does a better job of doing per-character vs end-of-line conversion.
- BUG: Markdown italics doesn’t appear to auto-convert in the editor although it will work once posted.
- The first thing I did was go to System Preferences > Keyboard > App Shortcuts and add CMD-K for link creation. I don’t know why it’s not the shortcut in the first place. However, sadly, the linking behavior is still a bit broken. If you try CMD-K on an empty selection, it does nothing, which is arguably OK behavior, but if you CMD-K with the cursor within an existing link, it should let you edit it, right? Furthermore, if you create a link with CMD-K and then with the word still selected, try to CMD-K again (say to edit the URL) it fails.
- Doing things like adding an embed are currently impossible. I would have liked to embed a Desk.pm video, for example, but I can’t. As far as I can tell there’s no “manual HTML insertion” ability or any way to extend formatting (personally, I embed Flickr photos a lot in my posts, also I tend to use a fair amount of <blockquote> and <code> tags (<– see how that’d would be useful there?)
- Full-screen is nice, but it’d be nice just to have an adjustable defocus/darken feature.
- It’d be nice to have preview as a split-screen or a sidebar view.
- Has some serious indents on lists. Wish there was a way to style the editor.
- BUG: There is wonky stuff going on with line-breaks/paragraphing…
- In general, Desk is sadly not as keyboard-driven as I would like, and not in a vim-emulation mode either, but lots of little things like the lack of proper focusing when sidebars come up, and less than ideal formatting shortcuts (compare say vs iA Writer), or the way say the linking popup disappears if you use a clipboard manager (I use ClipMenu) or tab out to grab a link. In general, I would just like to be able to use Desk.pm w/o having to touch my mouse, which doesn’t seem like too much to ask, but currently seems impossible.
- I wish there was a Keyboard Help keyboard shortcut (cmd-/ or cmd-?)
- Tooltips should have keyboard shortcuts appended
- Sidebar panes are not keyboard navigable. Since those panes disappear if you type anyway, it seems like focus should change, and you should be able to get out of a pane then by either using the keyboard-shortcut again, Escape, or clicking the main editor pane.
If you’ve been subjected to my tweets, you probably know that I was following the NSA leaks (and larger questions) pretty closely last year. And, since I’m currently back in one of the few cities that Laura Poitras’ new documentary on the subject, CITIZENFOUR is playing, it’s probably no surprise that I went to see it when I got a chance.
The short summary is that it’s a great documentary (currently 98% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, 89 (Universal Acclaim) on Metacritic) but more importantly, it’s an important film, especially if you haven’t been following along with this story. While some have complained both wasy, IMO Poitras strikes a nice balance that nicely encapsulates the larger story of total surveillance while providing fascinating footage of the initial leaks as they happened (funnily enough, both of these made possible by modern technology).
Seeing this side of the story reminded me of when the leaks first broke last year – I was in Berlin for the first time for work (the PRISM story was literally “breaking news” on the TVs as we were boarding), and we made a toast after dinner to the then-anonymous leaker who without a doubt was totally and completely fucked. I hope it’s not a spoiler to say that yes, there is a scene in the documentary footage that captures that moment perfectly. It’s honestly breathtakingly terrifying, but also extremely thought provoking. Also, spoiler alert, it turns out that even with the tables stacked against you, sometimes you can luck out.
(One last Berlin aside, it was interesting digesting the surveillance revelations walking through the Holocaust and Berlin Wall Memorials, where the spectre of the Stasi is still in living, even recent memory. It was also eye-opening returning to the US and seeing how different the reactions were after a weekend of swapping reactions with Berliners, Germans, and Europeans.)
The biggest shame about the film is that it isn’t showing more widely, but I’m sure it’ll be on all types of digital distribution, licit or otherwise, soon.
- Godfrey Cheshire (a former chairman of the New York Film Critics Circle) declared in his review (I only read reviews post-facto these days, but this is actually a quite intersting review, beyond the catchy opening):
Though superlatives can mischaracterize any movie’s qualities, it is not an overstatement, I think, to call “Citizenfour,” Laura Poitras’ film about Edward Snowden, the movie of the century (to date).
- The Nation just posted a very lengthy (wide-ranging and deep I suppose they’d say) interview with Snowden – it’s one of the more interesting Snowden interviews and if you are looking for more insight into his current political/policy/technology thoughts, it’s well worth the read.
- For those that like video, Larry Lessig interviewed Snowden the other week at Harvard Law School which is similar in tone/scope to a lot of the other telepresent interviews/Q&A’s he’s done.
- Glenn Greenwald also gave a fantastic talk on Why Privacy Matters at TEDGlobal this year:
I’ve been a bit under the weather the past couple days (the dangers of hanging out near other peoples’ little germ factories (aka kids)), but I wanted to post some of my thoughts about the year in tech. The last time I did that was probably a few years ago (related).
Over the weekend a friend was going on about how this year was a crappy one for “tech” (echoing the sentiments of those crappy articles floating around, but more along the lines of lack of ambition/innovation) which I strongly disagreed with. I think the kernel of truth there is that the SF/SV tech scene is definitely caught up in a weird spiral of chasing/making less and less interesting mobile/social apps, so of course from that vantage point, it’s going to seem terrible, but from the outside, things are… pretty interesting.
- NSA Leaks – In some articles, this was cited as some negative development, but Edward Snowden’s leaks revealed (and continues to reveal) how much the world has been changed by technology and hints at some of the implications that both as technologists and end-users, we’ve been oblivious to. It’s certainly the biggest tech story of the year, and has profound/deeply unsettling implications. It’s also kicked off a number of new projects, and made a lot of techies think harder about the things they’re working on. I think that in coming years, the world and the tech industry in particular will be better for it.
- Bitcoin – Bitcoins, alt-coins, cryptocurrency. While it’s been building up steam, this is the year that it boiled over and it’s another development that’s more than a little world-changing. I mentioned it briefly in a rebuttal comment I made on Charlie Stross’s blog post Why I want Bitcoin to die in a fire (I don’t know about his conclusions, but on just about every point of fact supporting his reasoning, he cited inaccurate/just plain wrong sources), but regardless of what the eventual value of BTC ends up as (which this year was driven mostly by the Chinese, not media hype), whether it’s $10K/BTC or $0/BTC, Bitcoin has not only served as a solid proof of existence for the viability of truly P2P digital currency, but has also laid down a protocol/framework that makes it trivial to create your own. The classes of problems that can be solved by a distributed public ledger are numerous… There’s some more thinking I need to put on that.
- Tesla – Finally, something out of the Valley. Between Tesla, SpaceX, and SolarCity, this was a huge year for Elon Musk, and they seem to all be converging into some techno-utopian vision that’s quite honestly, a rather refreshing respite from the totalitarian surveillance state, increasing economic disparity and general grim meathookiness going on elsewhere. If you aren’t excited about what Tesla has been up to this year, maybe you just aren’t that into tech.
- Robots – Google’s buying spree was pretty well reported, but less well covered was Schaft’s (one of the Google acquisitions) performance at the DARPA Challenge. It scored 27 out of a possible 32 points on the challenges. That’s 84%. This year has shown some tremendous accomplishments in robotics on just about every level, most interestingly/disturbingly in drone-tech. If you haven’t read this recent brief, but intense editorial in the Guardian this past week, btw, please do: I worked on the US drone program. The public should know what really goes on
- Kickstarter – I’ve been active (maybe a bit too active, seeing as I started getting KS spam this year) on Kickstarter this year. It’s not new, but it’s certainly gained even more steam in 2013, and I don’t see it decelerating. Kickstarter seems to be increasingly, one of the more important tools helping the Maker/DIY movement grow.
- 3D Printing – speaking of which, another not quite new, but thought I’d mention it, we finally got our Replicator 2 in the office this year, and it’s been incredibly useful. It’s also very close to being consumer friendly/ready. Like, say if the platform would self calibrate and if the prints were a little easier to peel off… But still, getting a 3D printer is now cheaper than an office laser printer was a decade ago.
- Quantified Self – In some ways, still nascent, but I got my Basis Watch, and I’ve been trying more than a few autologgers/aggregators released this year (Saga, Memoir, Heyday among others), but I think we’re seeing some really interesting first steps into pulling together both the data exhaust we’re already generating and combining that usefully with other things we’d like to track (beyond fitness trackers, things like the Automatic car tracker). One thing’s for sure though, things are just getting started
- VR – I admit, my Oculus Rift Devkit sat unloved and completely unopened for months. It’s been a hectic year. I did finally get around to break it out and try out about a dozen demos, and it was great, and also left me motion sick the rest of the night (I’ve played FPS/TPS’s for decades w/o problems). Carmack’s full time commitment and the news coming out of the community has me hopeful that they’ll have that problem licked, but it’s been pretty exciting following along. For those interested in what’s going on, I recommend Road To VR
- Open Hardware – this is an ongoing thing that isn’t new in 2013, and has also been greatly helped by Kickstarter, but there’s just a ton of interesting stuff happening in the cheap microcontroller world akin to the early web days. I’ve been poking around with a lot of this stuff, but this year, got pretty serious about it, doing a fair amount of soldering, exploring/evaluating pretty much every single ARM dev board around, and getting my first PCBs printed. Again, we’re going to see a continued proliferation of interesting hacks/automation/sensors as it gets increasingly cheaper and easier to program the world
I think most of these things point to how wrongheaded talking about these things in context of a year are though – tech is incremental, and it’s hard work. You can bet anything that’s being announced, let alone making a big splash probably took quite a bit longer than a year to get there.
I’ll also link to Some Notes on Labor, Technology and Economics that I wrote about earlier this year. 2013 started out on sour note and what’s been going on in the world this year has definitely given me some pause.
We’re none of us getting any younger, and the pace of innovation continues to increase though, so here’s to the next year. Let’s hope we can make it a better world.
ADDENDUM: Putting this here since it’s related. Not really an innovation per se, but a tech problem that may be reaching a breaking point – we continued to see bigger and bigger data breaches (Adobe, Target, SnapChat) by cyber-criminals. Will 2FA finally replace Passwords? Is there a different security model that can more effectively handle APTs/inevitably compromised networks? Is there a way to expire/invalidate leaked data or will fraud models improve enough that it’s OK that black-hats and script kiddies around the world trade your personal info? In traditional security, the deck is always stacked against the defense, but it makes me wonder if there’s not a way of changing that – after all, the physics of software (if not software engineering) are malleable…
2013 Geek Reading:
- Latency Mitigation Strategies (see also, Michael Abrash’s blogging or Abrash’s GDC 2013 presentation)
- Bradley Manning and the Two Americas (part of Quinn Norton’s excellent Notes from a Strange World)
- Second Reality Code Review
- ACLU v Clapper, Alexander, Hagel, Holder, et al: Declaration of Professor Edward W. Felten (PDF) – Timothy Lee wrote a short summary/excerpt but the brief is a concise/detailed explanation/exploration of the implications of metadata collection (I spent a couple months keeping track of NSA spying-related stuff here)
- How I Built Emojitracker
- The badBIOS Analysis Is Wrong.
- Imagining the Post-Antibiotic Future
- On Hacking MicroSD Cards (the Made in China category of bunnie’s blog is tops)
I think this Hacker News back and forth (in response to new that the NSA will be cutting sysadmin staff by 90% to limit data access) cuts right to the heart of the matter.
But who will manage the systems that are managing the systems? I’m sure this will work out brilliantly for them when systems crash, or hackers start exfiltrating their data, and there’s no one left to analyze the logs and discover and fix the holes.
The problem at the NSA isn’t that there are too many sysadmins, although apparently that plays well with tech illiterate politicians. The problem is too many morally unconscionable programs which lead to a growing revulsion in the ranks.
Mr. Alexander defends his agency’s conduct and claims the press is distorting the facts. “No one has willfully or knowingly disobeyed the law or tried to invade your civil liberties or privacies,” he said. “There were no mistakes like that at all.” Except we know that even FISA says that’s not true, in a report so damning apparently even elected members of congress can’t read it.
I have news for you Keith, blanket collection of the “meta-data” of every call on Verizon’s network is ex vi termini, invasion of privacy and civil liberty. DEA’s SOD (Special Operations Division) handing off your clandestine intercepts to civilian law enforcement is just the latest, but not the last, sickening revelation. The leaks won’t stop until you stop, and I hope your hubris continues to blind you to how close the political tides are to turning against you. It seems to me that your ‘ends justify the means’ mentality conflicts with your sworn oath to uphold the Constitution, and I can only hope history will look back on this whole endeavor as a dark stain in American history, and view you like a McCarthy of our time. Machiavelli would be proud of you, sir.
The problem is too many morally unconscionable programs which lead to a growing revulsion in the ranks.
Au contraire, it’s extremely morally conscionable to people who see law enforcement as a noble profession empowered to rid the nation (and beyond) of people they see as the scum of the earth. These programs are run by people who, I can guarantee you, do not wake up in the morning wondering what morals and ethics they can ignore that day.
“No one has willfully or knowingly disobeyed the law or tried to invade your civil liberties or privacies,” he said.
And he’s right. And that’s the problem: these things are likely not against the law. The law has both been perverted inch by inch and the agencies have been allowed to operate under looser legal interpretations than you and I receive for parking tickets. This means that to the degree that laws exist that permit their behavior (PATRIOT Act, FISAA), those who would constrain them to even the loose boundaries do not (and by all accounts refuse to) do so. This goes for the FISC as much as Dianne Feinstein and Eric Holder. This means they can say it’s legal for them to do pretty much whatever they want. So now what?
I wish I could agree with the zaroth and the optimists – the romantic view that as they squeeze tighter, as they transgress, actors of conscience will react or that as Assange posits, that authoritarian organizations will become less effective as the secrecy cost increases (PDF link to Assange’s 2006 essay State and Terrorist Conspiracies), however sadly I feel that this reduction in numbers will have quite the opposite effect.
While it’s easy (and satisfying) to decry the opposition as evil from my experience, the idea that no one (well most) people are not the villains of their own story seems to reflect reality much better (see also guardian organizations in particular are predisposed feel paternalistic. This is only magnified by a culture of hidden, hoarded knowledge, secrecy and elitism (“if you only knew what I knew”). Depending on your location on the libertarian/authoritarian political compass, your skin may be crawling a bit reading this description, but certainly those involved in this total surveillance view themselves as professional and honorable – their duty is to serve and protect those that (by design) don’t know any better.
However, there of course must be those within the organization that will have qualms and doubts. After all, history has shown again and again the inevitable progression of unchecked state power against its citizenry, especially when an organization can act in secrecy and with impunity. And of course there are those that, having been brought up with the belief in liberal democracy (you know, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the Federalist Papers) would have a very hard time indeed justifying secrecy and actions that would fall under what many would consider the very definition of tyranny. And of course, some of those individuals must also be concerned about what it means to society to have total surveillance, archived forever, and searchable instantly. This combination of the panopticon and the memex has never existed before and its existence (and now the public knowledge that it is controlled by a state actor w/ no meaningful oversight) and I suspect its impact and consequences has yet to be fully digested by society at large…
All this is a long way to say that there surely are those working at the NSA that have doubts – but as this continues to polarize, the ranks will only further close. Those that have the strongest doubts will leave or be forced out, but the Death Star is already fully operational, and there will be more than enough authoritarians, opportunistic, power-hungry, and just plain sociopathic boots to fill the ranks. And as those that would resist the trends towards aggregating more power and authority leave, so will the last remaining internal checks and balances (the external ones having disappeared long ago), leaving the organization more focused, in fact accelerating the slide towards… well, something that will no longer be much of a democratic republic in function, if not form.
Without drastic changes (full transparency, full oversight), this logic feels inescapable, inevitable. The truism about power and corruption seems apropos here.
That’s not to say that the issues of digital privacy and surveillance wouldn’t otherwise be a problem, that cat’s certainly out of the bag, but there’s a clear difference between the commerce vs the state (that centers on the monopoly on violence).
It’s also not to say that the society automatically becomes some sort of Grim Meathook (well, unless you’re poor in which case it already is, or if you decide to stand in the way of the Harkonnen fist). After all, in this new society, you capacity for autonomy will depend primarily on how innocuous/complicit you are within the system (also, being rich never hurts) – this, perhaps alarmingly, is not so different from how it’s always been.
OK, this is much longer than I was planning on, and has turned out to be a bit of a ramble that certainly lays out a lot of rope at least as far as my thoughts on political theory goes. I wish, that after quite a lot of thinking and processing, that I had some better conclusions, but … I don’t. Oh, here’s a catchy one:
Welcome to the future. Enjoy your stay.
I’ve been working on a few longish posts, but after taking a week or so off in Costa Rica, I’m now back at work with new deadlines looming and realizing that I won’t be getting around to finishing them anytime soon. Some of them really deserve some more thought anyway, but I did want to at the very least want to do a bit of a braindump.
Anyone following my Twitter feed knows that the NSA surveillance news has had much of my attention since it broke. A month later, I still haven’t quite figured out the proper response, except that in my mind, the leak, our response, and its implications (especially if allowed to continued) is one of the more significant turning points for our society. At least its forced me to consider technological progress through a very different lens. In the meantime, I’ve been keeping what I’m calling a “worry wall” tracking news and developments on the topic. It’s a Hackpad wiki, and I’d welcome contributions: stopspying.hackpad.com
It’s quite possible that there’s no sensible course of action, but it deserves some thinking.
Doug Englebart died last week. A few years ago, I had the privilege to attend one of his lectures, and while my writeup of the event focused on a critique, it was framed within the large shadow that Engelbart’s seminal works cast. While I did not know him personally, it’d be fair to say that Engelbart’s work and thinking might have been the most influential/impactful not just of my field of computing (the part involving people communicating and thinking together), but also on my own work and thinking, both directly and indirectly.
It’s not every day that one of your intellectual heroes/forebearers passes, and I wish I had something better/more to write about it, but the words escape me.
- HN: Doug Engelbart Has Died
- AUGMENTING HUMAN INTELLECT : A Conceptual Framework. October 1962. By D. C. Engelbart
- 1992: TOWARD HIGH-PERFORMANCE ORGANIZATIONS
A STRATEGIC ROLE FOR GROUPWARE
- 1968: The Mother of All Demos
- Bret Victor: A few words on Doug Engelbart (HN discussion)
- Engelbart was sidelined
Like in the Snowden case before it, I saw the AAR 214 crash news break on Twitter. A couple comments related to that caught my eye. On the actual accident itself, The Verge has done a surprisingly good job summarizing.
- What Happened to Asiana Airlines Flight 214? – interesting analysis and comments from commercial/B777 pilots
- @NTSB Twitter pics
And that’s it for now… I’ll be headed to YxYY this weekend and while I’m not looking forward to the 100+ degree heat, will be looking forward to catching up with some old friends.
While I’m not a full-blown audiophile (I’ve been to way too many concerts, shows, raves, and parties to have any illusions on the state of my hearing), I do enjoy good set of headphones/IEMs. These days I mostly use Audeo PFE 232 IEMs with a Fiio E17 in the office, and an old iBasso D2 Boa and a going-on-five year old pair of Denon AH-D2000s at home.
These Denons actually managed to replace my mighty Sennheiser HD-580s as my go-to – mostly because they were both punchier and more comfy for extended wear. However, recently, the pads had started … disintegrating (grody). I started looking for replacement pads and ended up finding the Lawton Audio Angle Pads. After a couple weeks delay, I finally got them in the mail…
Holy cow, these are fantastic. Really comfy, but most surprising is that the the audio, particularly the soundstage is noticeably better. I’m a happy clam right now, and looking forward to the next 5 years w/ these suckers.
Of course I’m wearing these while I type. Here’s one of the tracks I’ve been grooving to right now… (Buy on Amazon)
And I wanted there to be more just acts, and fewer unjust acts. And one can sort of say, well what are your philosophical axioms for this? And I say I do not need to consider them. This is simply my temperament. And it is an axiom because it is that way. And so that avoids, then, getting into further unhelpful discussions about why you want to do something. It is enough that I do. So in considering how unjust acts are caused and what tends to promote them and what promotes just acts I saw that human beings are basically invariant. That is that their inclinations and biological temperament haven’t changed much over thousands of years and so therefore the only playing field left is: what do they have? And what do they know? And “have” is something that is fairly hard to influence, so that is what resources do they have at their disposal? And how much energy they can harness, and what are the supplies and so on. But what they know can be affected in a nonlnear way because when one person conveys information to another they can convey on to another and another and so on in a way that nonlinear and so you can affect a lot of people with a small amount of information. And therefore you can change the behaviour of many people with a small amount of information. So the question then arises as to what kinds of information will produce behaviour which is just? And disincentivise behaviour which is unjust?
Thinking about this in context of the events unfolding in Boston, and the crowdsourced attention happening among other things.
I think that we are all aware that advanced capitalism is leading us down a road that as a society, we may not want to travel – constant crisis due to increasingly advanced, complex, and unstable financialization, an increasingly vicious trend toward plutocracy and plutonomy that has obliterated socioeconomic mobility via massively increasing inequality, and of course, as an engine of unsustainability, where environmental, health, and social costs are externalized and reality is subsumed via a twisted economic logic.
All these things really should be teased out into much larger discussions, but a few recently related links/discussions I want to make note of (I’m slowly moving some things back out of Evernote into a way that can be narratized):
- HN: Confessions of a Job Destroyer – a good essay that highlights what technological “disruption” really means; relevant to software, robotics and all sorts of enabling technologies
- HN: Unfit for work (npr.org) – NPR is doing a weeklong series on how the disability program is hiding massive collapses in the workforce
Also, this image popped up in my Twitter stream recently…
A quick Google search shows that it’s been floating around for at least a year, and the bottom text references an organization that ceased to exist in 1982 so it is probably quite old, but still resonates as much (if not more) today. Here’s the text transcribed (via)
If you’re unemployed it’s not because there isn’t any work
Just look around: A housing shortage, crime, pollution; we need better schools and parks. Whatever our needs, they all require work. And as long as we have unsatisfied needs, there’s work to be done.
So ask yourself, what kind of world has work but no jobs. It’s a world where work is not related to satisfying our needs, a world where work is only related to satisfying the profit needs of business.
This country was not built by the huge corporations or government bureaucracies. It was built by people who work. And, it is working people who should control the work to be done. Yet, as long as employment is tied to somebody else’s profits, the work won’t get done.
– The New American Movement (NAM)
Searching for this led to this interesting article:
I was first introduced to Aaron (impossibly young), over a decade ago at a tech conference (OSCON?). And, while we were never close, we often floated in the same circles (tech, activism, civic and political tech) and over the years our paths crossed many times, in emails, projects, at conferences or meetups. The last time I saw him was in Boston, June 2010. We met up outside a food court in Cambridge and caught up on the projects we were starting/wrapping up and swapped some thoughts on civic and campaign tech.
More than a friend, Aaron Swartz was a fellow traveler. He was one of us. In many ways, the best of us. It was a punch in the gut when I read the headline last night. He dedicated much of his life and his many talents in fighting injustice and trying to make a difference.
And beyond the sense of loss, there’s a bitter taste that injustice and indifference has won the day.
Rest in peace Aaron Swartz.
- Hacker News – today’s top headlines almost all articles related to Aaron’s suicide. First article
- Remember Aaron Swartz
- Official Statement from the family and partner of Aaron Swartz
- Cory Doctorow remembers Aaron
- tbl on www-tag
- The inspiring heroism of Aaron Swartz – Glenn Greenwald writes a long piece
- HN discussion)
- Philip Greenspun: Aaron Swartz
- Remembering Aaron Swartz (1986-2013) – Wikimedia remembers Aaron
- Aaron Swartz, hero of the open world, dies – Brewster Kahle remembers Aaron
- Wired Threat Level: Aaron Swartz, Coder and Activist, Dead at 26
We often say, upon the passing of a friend or loved one, that the world is a poorer place for the loss. But with the untimely death of programmer and activist Aaron Swartz, this isn’t just a sentiment; it’s literally true. Worthy, important causes will surface without a champion equal to their measure. Technological problems will go unsolved, or be solved a little less brilliantly than they might have been. And that’s just what we know. The world is robbed of a half-century of all the things we can’t even imagine Aaron would have accomplished with the remainder of his life.
- Open access, open internet, closed book – mefi obit thread
- Remember Aaron Swartz by working for open society and against government abuses – Dan Gillmor on anger and activism
- processing the loss of Aaron Swartz – danah writes a fantastic piece that captures both what it was like to know him and explores what he got caught up in (and why we’re angry)
- Legal Case Strained Troubled Web Activist – WSJ covers Aaron’s last days
- Aaron Swartz Faced A More Severe Prison Term Than Killers, Slave Dealers And Bank Robbers – see the EFF on how broken CFAA is
- Aaron Swartz’s Lawyer: Prosecutor Stephen Heymann Wanted ‘Juicy’ Case For Publicity – eat a bag of dicks Stephen P Heymann. Hope it was worth it.
- On humanity, a big failure in Aaron Swartz case – oh yeah, you too MIT.
Marty Weinberg, who took the case over from Good, said he nearly negotiated a plea bargain in which Swartz would not serve any time. He said JSTOR signed off on it, but MIT would not.
- Aaron Swartz, Asking For Help, 119 Days Ago – sigh, sadness
- Aaron Swartz was ‘killed by the government,’ father tells mourners
“Steve Heymann had shown no interest in justice,” Swartz’s girlfriend, Taren Stinebrickner-Kauffman, 31, told the Los Angeles Times on Monday. “His only interest was a notch on his belt, another young kid he could claim to put away. But I think as the case wore on, as it became clearer how weak his case was, he became more and more of a bully.”
- Lawmakers slam DOJ prosecution of Swartz as ‘ridiculous, absurd’
- I’m Rep Zoe Lofgren & I’m introducing “Aaron’s Law” to change the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA)
- The Criminal Charges Against Aaron Swartz – Part 2: Prosecutorial Discretion – Orin Kerr has an interesting writeup and the comments on the post and the HN discussion are both worth reading and thinking about. I do think the key is the systemic issues raised: the much more heinous crimes that aren’t prosecuted (HSBC), the de facto policy making that happens from prosecutorial discretion, the de facto punishment for indictment (either plea bargain or spend millions at trial and face a 99%+ conviction rate). While Aaron civil disobedience might have been aimed towards open access, instead what he really shone a light on (and what chewed him up) was the maw of our “justice” system. Also, I think Kerr’s analysis highlights at least two glaring contradictionss. Kerr repeatedly argues that his values are not neutral but judged against “Democracy” (more accurately, Legalism; which at this point is barely/vaguely democratic), however by that rubric, any/all civil disobedience/injustice (from the Civil Rights movement, etc) should be 1) punished fully against the letter of the law, even if it’s wrong/ridiculous, etc and 2) that the rubric for prosecution/punishment should be based on what would be necessary for “special deterrence” – as mentioned by a commenter, by that rubric, federal prosecutors would be morally justified in arresting and holding in detention indefinitely (or, presumably killing) political dissidents. Taking a step back, to something (slightly) less absurd, as put by gnosis:
“What punishment was the minimum necessary to deter Swartz from continuing to try to use unlawful means to achieve his reform goals?”
Let’s say no punishment would deter Swartz. Would that justify a sentence of life in prison?
- Aaron Swartz and the Corrupt Practice of Plea Bargaining
- U.S. Attorney breaks silence, defends prosecution of Aaron Swartz – they’ll do it again (and again) and there’s nothing you can do to stop it. I think it behooves everyone to fully take into account what American Justice means.
- The Prosecution of Aaron: A Response to Orin Kerr – in-depth response to Kerr’s analysis that I find a lot to agree with
- After Aaron: how an antiquated law enables the government’s war on hackers, activists, and you – if you’re online and reading this, it’s unlikely you’ve never committed a felony under the CFAA. You just haven’t been charged (yet). If you read the comments, ignore the troll Modred189, who apparently has nothing better to do in life than argue for the prosecution on all the Verge’s articles on the topic.
- Aaron’s Army – Carl Malamud’s fiery call to action at Aaron’s SF memorial service.
- Swartz didn’t face prison until feds took over case, report says
Raw Nerve – some of Aaron’s best writing.
F2C2012: Aaron Swartz keynote – “How we stopped SOPA”