Farewell Mr Swartz
It was with great sadness that we learnt of the untimely death of Aaron Swartz, late last week.
Where do you begin to summarise Swartz’s achievements? The list is a considerable one, spanning a wide range of outcomes, but impacting almost everywhere and everyone. Swartz co-authored the now widely-used RSS 1.0 specification (at age 14), was one of the three co-owners of the popular social news site Reddit, and - more recently – founded Demand Progress, which launched the hugely successful campaign against the internet censorship bills SOPA and PIPA.
Swart’z How to Get a Job Like Mine should be required reading for anyone young who wants to learn from another who has travelled the well worn path of life’s achievements, outlining the journey he embarked upon which - unsurprisingly – involved a considerable amount of hard work and effort. Swartz summarises the article with three sound pieces of advice. Firstly, nurture an inquisitive mind:
Be curious. Read widely. Try new things. I think a lot of what people call intelligence just boils down to curiosity.
Secondly, say yes, throw yourself in at the deep end and learn:
Say yes to everything… I attempt a lot and even if most of it fails, I’ve still done something.
Finally, and this more than anything rings true in an age that’s moving so fast it’s often hard to keep apace:
Assume nobody else has any idea what they’re doing either. A lot of people refuse to try something because they feel they don’t know enough about it or they assume other people must have already tried everything they could have thought of. Well, few people really have any idea how to do things right and even fewer are to try new things, so usually if you give your best shot at something you’ll do pretty well.
Sage advice from a gentleman who will be sorely missed.