Jim Gray is missing
February 2, 2007 9:51 PM   Subscribe

"Urgent . . . Jim Gray" Jim Gray is a well-respected researcher at Microsoft, and has been called "THE SQL Guru and Architecht." Last Sunday night he went out on his boat, and has yet to return. Read the touching story about how Silicon Valley's "best and brightest" are using all their technological savvy to find their colleague and friend. Godspeed. (previous post on Jim Gray here)
posted by Kibbutz (26 comments total)
the previous link is screwed up.

here's the correct link
posted by pruner at 10:02 PM on February 2, 2007

Grazi, pruner.
posted by Kibbutz at 10:05 PM on February 2, 2007

Interesting. Are they actually paying people on mechanical turk?
posted by delmoi at 10:13 PM on February 2, 2007

I've been following this story. The Coast guard search has been comprehensive, including possible places the boat or liferaft may have drifted to. It seems that Gray and his boat just vanished into thin air.
posted by vacapinta at 10:19 PM on February 2, 2007

This one has been a puzzle, its been all over the news but then, I'm 70 miles from San Francisco.

Even if his boat sank, there would be debris, the lack of anything is extremely unusual.
posted by fenriq at 10:31 PM on February 2, 2007

Jim is a great guy. I was really saddened to hear this news. He just doesn't seem like the sort who'd go out and intentionally get himself lost/sunk/etc. I very much hope he will be found (or just return), but the odds seem to be running out. When I worked with him, I never had the impression that he was some major contributor to the field. He was just a guy who answered my questions (even the really stupid ones, in hindsight), and gave insight when asked. Now that I see these stories (he wasn't one to ever talk about himself), I realize what a loss it is if he really is gone. If I were the praying type, I suppose I would be. :(
posted by avriette at 11:01 PM on February 2, 2007

not very nautical myself, but i love nautical mysteries. hope he's ok. apparently there's no signal coming from his boat or cellphone, which makes it a small target in a great big ocean. wondering if he might have faked a disappearance. let's say (hypothetically) your marriage has gotten dull or outright hostile, you don't like working for microsoft anymore...he was going out there to scatter the ashes of his mother. you aren't gonna disappear on your mama when she's still alive to worry and grieve, but once she's gone, all bets are off. prefer to think of him in a tropical hideyhole with a little hacienda, sipping a margarita, rather than as fish food because i like nautical mysteries to have romantic resolutions.
posted by bruce at 11:18 PM on February 2, 2007

I'm sorry, I just can't take another story about a super wealthy tech dude getting killed while enjoying a vacation. I'm really sorry for this guy's friend's and family if he's gone, but I'm fucking repulsed at how much more the world cares if a wealthy person dies than anyone does when a poor person dies. You have the money and time to become a nautical hobbiest, in other words, you take up a hobby that is inherently dangerous, and the world dumps resources and energy and attention to you if you disapear, but if you're just a poor kid who happened to be walking down the street at the wrong time and you get randomly shot, who gives a shit.

You can argue that he made more important contributions to the world than most people did, but he also had the opportunity to make those contributions.
posted by serazin at 11:40 PM on February 2, 2007

Occam's razor would suggest that global warming is to blame for his disappearance.
posted by pruner at 11:40 PM on February 2, 2007

serazin, it's because he has rich and brilliant friends. They're using their knowledge and resources to find someone they personally know and care about. (The Coast Guard would do the same search for anyone in a lost boat.) J. Random Kid on the street has friends, but they're not rich and, thus, can't command the resources that this guy's friends can.

It's not some deep social problem... it's just people looking for someone they care about. There is nothing sinister here. And if you don't like to hear about it, then you go right ahead and don't care.... but you're being just as evil as everyone else who isn't caring about J. Random Kid.
posted by Malor at 11:51 PM on February 2, 2007

J. Random Kid doesn't get media coverage or a post on metafilter. Also, many more public resources do go into protecting the wealthy than the poor.
posted by serazin at 11:55 PM on February 2, 2007

serazin, you live in a world where all technology useful is trained towards finding a fellow human being who made some of that technology possible. This is coincidence, not irony.

Now put that aside, along with your keyboard, and wish success to everyone in harm's way.
posted by hal9k at 12:32 AM on February 3, 2007

I just have to wonder if it's going to be one of these....
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 2:00 AM on February 3, 2007

This is coincidence...

posted by fairmettle at 2:05 AM on February 3, 2007

J. Random Kid doesn't get media coverage or a post on metafilter.

That's because J. Random Kid wasn't a Turing Award winner and part-creator of the entire concept of relational databases and the SQL language, on which just about every single business in the world today relies, particularly the financial world.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 2:09 AM on February 3, 2007

serazin: I'm sorry, I just can't take another story about a super wealthy tech dude getting killed while enjoying a vacation.

You know he went out to scatter his mother's ashes and not for some joyride, right?
posted by DakotaPaul at 2:09 AM on February 3, 2007

Hoping that the guy is found alive and relatively well, this is a golden opportunity to involve relatively powerful people into SAR projects that could benefit Coast Guard et al.

Yet I find it curious that a guy like him didn't leave with one of these onboard, he is exactly the kind of guy I would expect to be prepared somehow with some tech.
posted by elpapacito at 2:32 AM on February 3, 2007

A blog which is tracking everything. You can also help search through satellite imagery it seems.
posted by edd at 3:35 AM on February 3, 2007

This reminds me of a top level-senior coworker of mine who went missing just like this. He was a popular super nice guy. We searched for him, our large employer even gave everyone (hundreds of employees) two days off to help the search. We looked everywhere, didn't find him. then....Two years later he was found flipping burgers at a cheap hamburger joint in Florida. He said he got tired of the rat race.

edd. Thanks for the link to the search/tracking blog site.
posted by BillsR100 at 6:58 AM on February 3, 2007

The satellite imagery that you can help sift through is being coordinated through Amazon's Mechanical Turk.
posted by intermod at 7:47 AM on February 3, 2007

If I ever go missing, it will be of great comfort to know that my colleagues - the vast army of copy editors out there - will likewise collectively leap into action, consulting AP Stylebooks and Chicago Manuals in a feverish effort to correct misspellings, align tenses, supply concise headlines and revise, revise, revise until, at last, I am saved.

(I hope they find Jim Gray.)
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 8:55 AM on February 3, 2007 [2 favorites]

I met Jim Gray once. Of course he was incredibly smart and impressive. He was also nice and friendly and his professionalism helped defuse what could have been a very tense business meeting. He impressed me.
posted by Nelson at 9:25 AM on February 3, 2007

I don't understand the bias against the man in the above comments. As I said, I knew he worked for MSR (and thus had done something of note), but the only thing I knew about him was that he understood clustering (HPC) and databases. Other than that, he was just a very nice guy. He just didn't talk about it, draw attention to himself, or anything I've come to expect from that sector of the industry. I'm not sure that there would be some massive all-hands search had I gone missing, but I also don't think that the effort is being conducted due to his being wealthy, or just because of his contributions.

And for fuck's sake. Saying he was on a joyride? I thought slashdot was the place people threw ad hominems without reading "TFA." That is seriously sick, serazin. And to preface that vitriol with "I'm sorry, but..." Who are you kidding?
posted by avriette at 10:56 AM on February 3, 2007

It may not be totally relevant to this post, but I just want to back up serazin.

It's sad about Gray, and touching to see the effort by his friends and colleagues. But it's true that the rich have more opportunities to look out for their own - alive and dead. And society, the media, us - we tend to view some individuals as more valuable for others, which is a problem. That's not to say that anyone grieving over Gray is elitist or undemocratic.

Probably a topic for a separate post. Or not, since the point is so self-evident.
posted by univac at 11:47 AM on February 3, 2007

*Resolves to befriend Coast Guard. All of it.*
posted by dhartung at 1:24 PM on February 3, 2007

It must have been pirates.

I blame linux.
posted by jeffamaphone at 9:23 PM on February 3, 2007

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