This last weekend I attended the Aaron Swartz Memorial Hackathon at NoiseBridge. You can see my project Cents Us Dollars Them.

Danny O'B gave a speech entitled Aaron's Army. These are my notes


Don't be afraid to email/ask experts

It's a web of links. That's a metaphor for us all being connected. Aaron cold emailed Larry Lessig and others (Timbl?) which is how he initially got involved with Creative Commons and W3C.

Don't be afraid to reach out and connect with people. The web provides that channel.

Aquire narrow domain specific knowledge

Aaron knew about RDF and Python. He was learning about the legal system. Become an expert at something and use that knowledge as a leverage for change.

The revolution will be A/B tested

Brainstorm, build, test, iterate. Our tools make it easy to see what's working and build on it.

Be independant of institutions

The cost of building an institution is drastically going down. If you don't see an institution that fits you then create one and wrap it around yourself/organization.

It seems like Aaron accomplished so much because he so quickly and easily created institutions (infogami, reddit, jottit, demand progress, etc).

However when you're independant of institutions you need social institutions (noisebridge etc).

Self care

Literally the last thing in the world to do is kill yourself. This includes self preservation by eating well, resting propertly, etc. We lost 70, 80, maybe 1000 years of work from Aaron. We can't afford that.

The highs and lows of success/failure are emotionally intense. Consider Aaron working on RDF, creative commons, reddit, PACER, JSTOR, all in that compressed time frame.

The web is connected through links. We're connected. Make sure that you're not working alone and that other people aren't working alone either.


I've seen the greatest minds of my generation destroyed by RDF

People mentioned

Braham Cohen

  • Created Bittorent
  • Cypherpunk
  • Mojonation

Len Sassaman

Larry Lessig

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28 January 2013