I was saddened to see the news that Aaron Swartz had committed suicide. Such a tragedy. Swartz is known for a wide-range of things, such as helping create Reddit, RSS and being an internet activist. But I remember him most as one of the earliest Google bloggers.
The Google Weblog went up on March 17, 2002, two years before Google launched its own official blog. I mentioned it to my own readers soon after as a new site that was about all about Google. Aaron, in speaking to Philipp Lenssen of Google Blogoscoped in a 2007 interview, remembered it as being the first blog focused entirely on Google:
To your knowledge, was that the first blog focusing exclusively on Google?
I think so. I looked for others before I started it.
I certainly remember it the same. I’d been writing about Google since the company started in 1998, blogging (although we pretty much didn’t really call it that, then). But my writing had been focused around Google as a search company, not about the phenomenon it would become.
Aaron wrote after his first visit to Google that he was more interested in small technical features about Google than the big picture stuff the popular press was latching on to:
At lunch we discussed my goals for the weblog. I like breaking stories first, but I’m more interested in putting together all the news in one place (which I owe to all the people who send me news). We noted that the things I’m interested in are very different than the normal press. They went wild over Google’s deal with AOL, I went over the details Google’s new redirect-on-no-matches feature.
But ironically, the very existence of his blog, one entirely devoted to Google, was a harbinger of Google’s departure from being just a search engine and into the giant media and technology company it is today.
Aaron later, off the Google Weblog and on his own blog, wrote about those big picture issues. One piece I remember most was about how Google’s many benefits and campus life were designed to help employees keep feeling like kids, so they’d never want to leave the Google home.
Aaron’s last post on The Google Weblog itself was about Google’s now-defunct SearchMash experiment that went up in October 2006. He obviously went on to much bigger things beyond documenting Google, and it’s sorrowful he’s not going to continue on that path.
Image of Aaron Swartz in 2008 from Wikipedia.