Be Curious

by Christopher Paul on January 15, 2013

If you follow the news a lot – especially if you follow the tech sector – you’ve heard that Aaron Swartz, a uniquely talented young man, took his own life at 26. Many believe an over zealous prosecutor and the threat of jail drove his depression deeper pushing him over the edge; there are calls to reform the law and the prosecutor to be punished in some way for their seemingly unfair actions. The whole tech world is still in mourning.

Swartz is credited with working closely on the RSS 1.0 spec, and was the sole beta tester for Markdown which high performing writers use to code and easily format text (like the code I’m using in Poster to write this piece). He started Demand Progress and was active in all sorts of causes promoting internet freedoms and free access to information. He started this career at 13 or 14. He was brilliant in a way that many fear will never be seen again.

Because of his death, many people have shared their memories and impressions of Aaron. Because I never met him, I couldn’t comment on him other than to agree that, after reading so many tributes, he was loved, will be missed, and his contributions to humanity won’t end with his legacy. However, John Gruber posted a quote of Aaron’s I really like. It speaks to not just who he was but who we should all strive to be: curious.

If you watch little kids, they are intensely curious, always exploring and trying to figure out how things work. The problem is that school drives all that curiosity out. Instead of letting you explore things for yourself, it tells you that you have to read these particular books and answer these particular questions. And if you try to do something else instead, you’ll get in trouble. Very few people’s curiosity can survive that. But, due to some accident, mine did. I kept being curious and just followed my curiosity.

Let’s take his advice:

Be curious and follow it.

via DF and Dave Winer

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