Where’s Phil Agre?

I wrote the post below about Phil Agre seven weeks ago, but somehow never put it online. Now I read via the Great Grimmelmann that Phil Agre Is Missing and there is a web site dedicated to finding Phil Agre.


It seems I am not the only one wondering Where's Phil Agre?.

Phil was an incandescent presence in the early Internet studies world. He was a brilliant but erratic presenter. Mostly brilliant, once in a while just boring. But mostly brilliant. Scary brilliant. I remember being on a panel with Phil, we met for dinner or something the night before, he had a talk planned and written out. I saw him the next day carrying around a bound set of lined paper, like one uses for a diary, and writing in it, covering every line, page after page. Finally I asked him what he was writing. “I had a different idea for the talk.” And indeed the talk he gave was nothing like the one he'd told us about the day before, but it was brilliant.

Phil also ran RRE – the Red Rock Eater, a set of links and notes that had thousands of subscribers, back at a time when that was a lot of subscribers.

Where does the name Red Rock Eater come from?

Bennett Cerf's Book of Riddles.

Question: What is big and red and eats rocks?

Answer: A big red rock eater.

Why such a funny name?

I wanted something as un-computer-like as possible.

Does the word “red” in the list's name have a political meaning?

Absolutely not.

Then one day, some time in 2003, he stopped posting to RRE, and more or less around then vanished from the conference scene. I miss him. I hope you're OK, Phil. There's a folder in my inbox waiting for you.

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