Aaron Swartz, who is credited with developing RSS 1.0, and founding Infogami, which merged with Reddit in the popular site’s early days, was found dead in a Brooklyn apartment. According to various reports, police say he committed suicide by hanging. He was only 26 years old.
In 2011, Swartz was arrested for the alleged systematic downloading of millions of documents from JSTOR with the intent to distribute them. According to The Tech, he was allegedly using the MIT network and a laptop hidden in a basement closet in an MIT building. He pleaded not guilty just this past September.
Swartz had worked for Avaaz Foundation founded DemandProgress.org to help combat SOPA/PIPA.
Philipp Lenssen at Google Blogoscoped has an interview with Swartz from 2007 in which he talks about his time at reddit, and his exit from the company:
For Christmas, I went with some friends to Europe. Towards the tail end of the trip I caught a cold and holed up in my old apartment in Boston for a week. I headed back to San Francisco over the weekend and when I came in Monday morning I was asked to leave. I spent a little while trying to figure out what had gone on, but without too much success. Eventually, I decided that I should just accept this as an opportunity. And not look a gift horse in the mouth too hard.
I was with the Reddit team back when we were coming up with the idea, in the months before the first Y Combinator Summer Founders Program started. We eventually began working together full time around that November and started a port of the site from Lisp to Python shortly after that.
There were three founders – me, Steve, and Alexis. Steve and I did the programming and Alexis handled promotion and customer service and office management and business development and the myriad of other tasks that came up. Christopher Slowe also worked with us part-time as he finished up his physics Ph.D at Harvard.
It was an exciting time, but working at an office job was quite different.
Danny Sullivan at Search Engine Land remembers Swartz as one of the earliest Google bloggers, indicating that he was the first person to have a blog exclusively about Google, called the Google Weblog.
Swartz’s trial was scheduled to begin in April.