Aaron Swartz

How Aaron Swartz Helped Build the Internet

With his contributions to RSS coding and the Web application framework, Swartz made some of today's more expansive Internet possible. But what Swartz also helped create was a philosophy of the Internet, one that remains the subject of great controversy almost 20 years into its life: the libertarian idea that information wants to be free.


Swartz attended Stanford University. During his freshman year, Swartz applied to Y Combinator's very first Summer Founders Program proposing to work on a startup named Infogami designed as a flexible content management system to allow the creation of rich and visually interesting websites or a form of wiki for structured data. After working on Infogami with co-founder Simon Carstensen over the summer of 2005, Aaron opted not to return to Stanford, choosing instead to continue to develop and seek funding for Infogami. As part of his work on Infogami, Swartz created the web.py web application framework because he was unhappy with other available systems in the Python programming language. In early fall of 2005, Swartz worked with the founders of another nascent Y-Combinator firm Reddit, to rewrite their Lisp codebase using Python and web.py. Although Infogami's platform was abandoned after Not A Bug was acquired, Infogami's software was used to support the Internet Archive's Open Library project and the web.py web framework was used as basis for many other projects by Swartz and many others. When Infogami failed to find further funding, Y-Combinator organizers suggested that Infogami merge with Reddit,