Aaron Swartz is the founder and director of Demand Progress, a nonprofit advocacy group with over a million members. He is also a contributing editor to the Baffler magazine and his writing has been anthologized in The Best Software Writing and The Best Technology Writing. His piece "Image Atlas" (with Taryn Simon) has been exhibited at the New Museum. He studied sociology at Stanford University and was a research fellow at Harvard's Center for Ethics. He co-authored the RSS 1.0 specification, used by millions of websites to publish updates; cofounded the startup Reddit.com, now one of the top 100 websites in the US; and architected the website OpenLibrary.org, which provides free access to millions of books. "In the technology world," The New York Times observed, "Mr. Swartz is kind of a big deal."
Aaron Swartz has had a computer since before he was even born. By the age of thirteen he created his first web application -- programming a system with essentially the same idea as Wikipedia -- which went on to make him a runner-up in the ArsDigita Prize for web applications developed by young people.
Shortly after that he built the first modern news aggregator and co-authored the RSS 1.0 standard for news aggregation. He also joined the RDF Core Working Group at the World Wide Web Consortium, the standards body for the Web, and worked on the Semantic Web, writing popular guides as well as specifications.
He joined the founding team of Creative Commons, a non-profit dedicated to strengthening the public domain and providing alternatives to "all rights reserved" copyright, where he worked on their web site and developed their metadata system.
He then spent a year studying sociology at Stanford University, before taking a leave of absence to co-found Reddit.com, a popular technology news site. The site was receiving millions of visitors a month when it was purchased by Condé Nast, the American publishing empire.
Aaron left Condé Nast after the acquisition and begun a new project, Open Library, whose goal is to create a wiki with a page for every book. He also co-founded a new startup, Jottit.com, which makes it incredibly easy to start a website. In his spare time he maintains and mentors a number of free software projects and writes for a variety of magazines.
His current project is watchdog.net, a website that collects a wide variety of political data sources, from demographics and pollution reports to campaign contributions and lobbying records, and combines them into one easy-to-use website. It also provides tools to take action based on what you learn, by writing your representative and launching campaigns with friends.
He has worked with Tim Berners-Lee and Lawrence Lessig, spoken at numerous conferences, including Comdex, WWW2002, and the O'Reilly Open Source Convention, taught a class at MIT, appeared in publications from the Chicago Tribune to Boing Boing, appeared twice on the front page of the Boston Globe, and been profiled in Wired and Newsweek.