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News seen on the web and about the web. From Monday to Friday at 8.20 am Paris time.

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Latest update : 2013-01-15

Internet prodigy Aaron Swartz commits suicide

Well-known US cyber activist’s suicide shocks the web. The sale of shark fins in China outrages net users. And Facebook reunites two sisters after seventy two years apart.

Internet prodigy Aaron Swartz commits suicide

Considered one of the pioneers of the internet and an all-time protester for free information sharing online, Aaron Swartz was found hanged on Friday in his New York apartment. He was 26. Despite his young age, this IT prodigy widely contributed to shaping the Internet as we know it today.

He was only fourteen when he co-developed the RSS feed, which is used today by most web sites to diffuse content. Furthermore, Aaron Swartz helped launch projects such as Creative Commons free licences and the Reddit foundation, which has since gone on to become one of the US’s most popular sites.

But the young computer specialist was also a staunch defender of net user freedoms. In 2011, he led the revolt against two anti-hacking law bills judged freedom-destroying by their critics. Mobilisation which caused US lawmakers to back down.

However, his attachment to free data movement on the internet meant he encountered several run-ins with the law. Aaron Swartz was under investigation and faced a heavy prison sentence for hacking and posting online almost five million scientific articles sold on the JSTOR site.

A situation which may have contributed to his suicide, according to his loved ones, who set up this site to pay homage to him and who remind the public that Aaron had suffered from depression for several years.


Outrage at shark fins drying on Hong Kong rooftop

These photos, taken in Hong Kong, have shocked numerous environmental activists around the world since their publication last week. Shots and videos diffused on his site by Alex Hofford, a photojournalist and marine conservation expert, show tens of thousands of shark fins drying on the roof of a building in the run-up to the Chinese New Year celebrations. A scene which was quick to generate a major wave of indignation online.

According to Hofford’s estimations, around four thousand sharks are thought to have been savagely killed to build up such a stock of fins. A product whose sale remains legal in China, despite the ecological catastrophe it represents, as recalled by the marine biologist.

The images have caused many net users to express their disgust faced with such a scene. On Twitter, messages calling on the Chinese authorities to put an end to the sale of shark fins or to rally to protect the species have flooded in in recent days.

And net users do not plan to stop there. A petition has been created on the Change.org site, appealing directly to the Hong Kong authorities. The text urges the local government to set the example by stopping serving shark fins at official banquets. A request which has enjoyed success online, with over seven thousand signatures already being collected.


Facebook reunites sisters after 72 years apart

Separated for seventy two years, they have just been reunited thanks to Facebook. Hedija Talic and her elder sister, Tanija Delic lost contact in 1941 when the family fled their village in Bosnia at the start of the Second World War. Living two hundred kilometres apart for all these years, they were finally reunited thanks to their children, who recently contacted one another through Facebook. The two women in their eighties now hope to trace their brother who is thought to have emigrated to the States.

 

Sagaki Keita’s doodle art

On his site, Japanese artist, Sagaki Keita offers a discovery of complex works which he has created in ink and pen. Work which upon first glance pays homage to some of the world’s most well-known monuments such as the Eiffel Tower or the Statue of Liberty. But upon closer examination, these drawings are in fact made up of a multitude of tiny manga characters in particular. Highly detailed illustrations which sometimes require several months’ work.


Video of the day

A huge roll of paper and a small pair of scissors; these are the instruments Andrew Huang used to compose this piece of experimental music. One more opus in the repertoire of this young Canadian, who regularly uses everyday items to make music.

By Electron Libre

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