Phil Agre Has Gone Missing

Philip Agre was an associate professor of information sciences at the University of California at Los Angeles, and for years he ran a popular technology e-mail list with thousands of subscribers. But one day the 49-year-old scholar just stopped showing up on the campus, and now colleagues have deployed Twitter, Facebook, and the Web to try to find him.

Last month the university police department put out a missing-person alert for Mr. Agre, whose absence was reported to authorities by his sister. The alert says he abandoned his apartment and his job “sometime between December 2008 and May 2009.” It also notes that he suffers from “manic depression.”

The scholar apparently had many professional contacts but few close friends. An expert on privacy, he was always guarded about his own, say those who know him.

“In his personal life, he never wanted to discuss social things,” said Charlotte Lee, an assistant professor of human-centered design and engineering at the University of Washington who worked under Mr. Agre when she was a doctoral student. ‘When his behavior got more erratic, nobody felt close enough to him to help, and we thought we'd help by protecting his zone of privacy,” she said. “Respecting that zone of privacy is what allowed him to slip away.’ ” (The Chronicle of Higher Education)

As someone who was a participant in and subscriber to his ‘Red Rock Eaters’ mailing list for the duration, I am reposting this to spread the word. He is certainly someone who would know how to drop off the grid if he wished to, but I worry that something more dire has happened to him.