This Has Not Been A Good Week For The Hacker Community


The Internet lost a few great minds this week. [Aaron Swartz], confronted with an upcoming federal trial for his actions in downloading and releasing public domain academic articles from JSTOR, hanged himself this week. As one of the co-developers for RSS, the Creative Commons license, and slew of other works, [Aaron]’s legacy expanded the freedoms and possibilities of the most important human invention since the book.

Perhaps overshadowed in the news by [Aaron] is [Fabio Varesano], the man behind FreeIMU and Femtoduino. He died of a sudden heart attack at the much too young age of 28. The RC helicopter/plane/drone and HCI/physical computing communities lose a great mind with [Fabio]’s passing.

There is talk on the Dangerous Prototypes forum of continuing the development of FreeIMU, a project it seems [Fabio] worked on alone. We’d love to see someone pick up the reigns of the FreeIMU project, hopefully after doing a run of the current hardware and donating the proceeds to [Fabio]’s family.

29 thoughts on “This Has Not Been A Good Week For The Hacker Community

  1. RIP to both, and condolences to their families. Back in the day it was the greatest musical talent that died young. I guess it is the internet of things. Happily I have floundered sufficiently in every endeavour I have attempted to be safe from early death.

  2. It appears that I have noticed that quite a number of activists have suddenly died. Hmmmm? This is starting to sound like a little like Germany around the 30′s.

    If only we could read our future like we read the past. We would often find that the future is is that crazy impossibility. However, we can read the past to gain hints of the future.

  3. It’s a sad day indeed when a Federal DOJ trial can push a brilliant mind to such a final ending. My condolences to Aaron’s and Fabio’s family and friends. And it is another sad commentary that someone so very young with such a brilliant mind leaves us at such an early age. Fabio’s work in RC helicopter/plane/drone and HCI/physical computing arena’s will be sorely missed.

  4. I’m sad to hear about Fabio as well.
    I was about to publish my IMU design on our website (which is quite alike the FreeIMU board), and I am planning on updating it very soon to use the latest InvenseSense IC. So I guess I didn’t know I was already working on continuing his work…
    You can find photos of the board on my twitter (@izsh1911)

    I’ll share the schematics, gerbers etc. soon on our blog


  5. RIP to two true kindred souls, who burned it at both ends in different ways to progress the knowledge for us all. To me there is no better way to spend ones life. Utmost respect to both them and their families.

  6. Loss of words…. Poor guys, My thoughts and condolences are with their families. I am sure Arron’s family is well off, but don’t know much about Fabio’s family. I would surely donate some bitcoin to his family for support.

  7. if this suit really pushed Aaron that far then somethings is wrong with the legal system. his death was the fault of the government and a reminder of the corruption it brings. may he rest in peace as we fight in his place.
    on the flip side of the coin…
    Fabio’s death is ultimately by the hands of the pushy and impatient people pressuring him to “get-er-done” and release all of his hard work (for free mind you), culminating in the heart attack that killed him. god help us all…

  8. I can certainly relate. I had a family member kill himself last year rather than face a rigged legal system with a public defender. His job fired him, the moment they heard of the trial, then his wife divorced him and took what little he had left (all of this before any evidence had even been released or presented), finally, the night before his trial was to begin and likely end, he put a bag of nitrogen over his head and ended it.
    How many more people must die to keep the lawyers in their million dollar houses?

  9. Yet another great loss in our community, there have been many other unknowns that have past as of late and to all of then I wish peace. To the families and loved ones of the lost, my thoughts and condolences are with you all.

  10. While I previously was aware of the contributions both men had made RIP. In the case of Aaron Schwartz there forever be one group that will label him a criminal. In the event the material he loaded, and released was in the public domain there will be that group who will see him as only doing something our government, and universities should doing.

  11. Had Aaron Swartz been convicted of this crime, it would have set a very dangerous president, one that would have irrevocably damaged any future freedom and access to information. He wasn’t a coward by committing suicide, he was brave in the manor that must be honored. He gave his life for an ideal that will now be looked at and remembered through out time. I only hope that everyone who learns of his sacrifice realizes how close we came to the precipice.

  12. RIP Fabio, I was following your work we exchanged few mail. You’ll be missed. Same goes to Aaron a true genius, never had the occasion to know him but his achievement are enormous.

  13. I just don’t want to believe Aaron hung himself, I just don’t understand why he’d do that and I highly doubt he was facing jail time for the JSTOR incident. I don’t mean to be a conspiracy theorist here but doesn’t anyone else find this extremely odd? At any rate, I’d like to extend my condolences to Aaron and Fabio’s families. Rest in peace you two and thank you for all of your contributions, you’ll be missed by the community.

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