Aaron Swartz, College Student

Aaron Swartz has been such a key part of the blogging (and web services, and XML syndication) world(s) for so long that it’s always a shock to remember that he’s so young. To wit: he’s starting undergrad at Stanford this month. Today’s update finds him making some of the discoveries many of us made ten years ago, like how professors don’t always understand your insights; parties are sadly funny when you look at them as anthropological rituals (and don’t participate); and how phony patriotism is used to build group identities.

(I will note, however, that it’s grimly funny to find a leading proponent of RDF, the leading (and still mystifying) XML-based semantic taxonomy, and of Atom, which proposes an alternate notation and representation for the syndication data presented by RSS, totally baffled by the transition from the Dewey Decimal System to the Library of Congress system.)

But the series is still highly readable. The alienation of a smart autodidact confronting his peers in the brew of the most intense period of peer interaction—well, it’s awfully familiar to me, and I suspect to many of my readers as well.