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429 Too Many Requests: I don't like repeating what everyone else is saying on this weblog, and I don't have much to add to the general outpouring following the death of my friend Aaron, but I have to say something, because you can't say goodbye if you don't say anything. His death was awful, our loss great, his crimes (assuming any crime was committed at all) minor, and their prosecution farcical. I feel like a lot of what we're going through is our frustrated desire to see Aaron's case properly litigated, to see our friend vindicated, and I have no experience with that stuff, but I do have two personal stories to share. Two points where my life intersected with Aaron's in ways I haven't talked about publicly.

  1. Beautiful Soup was partly inspired by xmltramp, an XML parser Aaron wrote because he was frustrated with other XML parsers. I've been thinking a lot about this, and this is why my initial mourning of Aaron took the form it did, because screen-scraping—the use of an automated agent to replace a human-driven web browser—seems to have been at the core of the prosecutor's belief that this was a blockbuster case, more akin to a bank heist than a defaced storefront.
  2. In 2005 Aaron wanted me to join his startup, Infogami. He showed me a prototype, a NewsBruiser-like blogging site. I was looking to quit my job at CollabNet, but I didn't take Aaron's offer because I was comfortable in San Francisco and really didn't want to move across the country. (In a Twilight Zone-level twist, in early 2006 I'd end up moving to New York, which I now like a lot better than San Francisco.) Aaron tells the next part of the story here. He couldn't find a partner and eventually ended up merging Infogami with Reddit[0], which was then sold to Conde Nast in 2006.

    Back in 2005 there was enough of the college-era me left that I would have seen this outcome as a big missed opportunity. I still had some desire, left over from the dot-com era, to win the startup lottery. But of course the Reddit merger happened because Aaron couldn't get a partner for Infogami. And my life over the next couple years, including my secondhand reading of Aaron's experience at Reddit (he was fired soon after the Conde Nast acquisition) made it clear to me that I would not enjoy winning the startup lottery any more than Aaron did. I count this among the most important things Aaron taught me.

I've cut a lot of what I wrote here because I don't want this entry to be a bunch of stuff about me and my opinions and what I think. But I'm the one who's still here. Aaron is gone, and all that's left of him is the parts we can share.

[0] I can't let go of these little technical inconsistencies between what I'm seeing now and what I remember. It looks like during the merger, Infogami stopped being a blogging site, and its framework (which became the first Python version of Reddit) was renamed "Infogami". Or maybe "Infogami" was the framework all along, and the blogging site was only one application of the product; I don't know.


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