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Memorial at Cooper Union Honors Life of Web Whiz Aaron Swartz

By Jess Wisloski | January 19, 2013 2:50pm | Updated on January 20, 2013 8:30am

EAST VILLAGE —  The suicide death of Aaron Swartz, the 26-year-old web genius credited with helping develop code for early RSS feeds and founding news hub Reddit, resonated in New York City, where the precocious developer and web activist had lived over the last years of his life.

On Saturday, a two-hour memorial service, held at Cooper Union in Manhattan, paid tribute to the young man who was devoted to promoting freedom of information on the web.

Organized with friends and family, who started a web site to accept contributions of fond memories as well as donations of money and programming code, the memorial was one of many held across the U.S. commemorating Swartz in the days following his Illinois burial.

Swartz was found January 11 in his Brooklyn apartment, by his girlfriend, Taren Stinebrickner-Kauffman, who is also an online activist.

Ben Wikler, a close friend and ally of the late Aaron Swartz, and internet activist, introduced the ceremony, which was filled with close friends and business partners sharing humorous and touching recollections of the mercurial and very private man.

Other speakers included David Segal, a former Rhode Island State Representative and executive director of Demand Progress, a group dedicated to progressive policy changes on the national scale, which Swartz was involved with; David Isenberg, founder of Freedom to Connect; Edward Tufte, professor emeritus at Yale among others. Damian Kush, of OK Go, performed at the service.

Stinebrickner-Kauffman also spoke at Saturday's memorial, which took place in the Great Hall on East 7th Street, between Third and Fourth Avenues.

The independent radio and TV news program Democracy Now was also broadcasting a live feed of the service for those not in Manhattan on Saturday.

Swartz was lauded as a web activist for his adamant devotion to creating free access to information on the internet.