Sunday, October 11, 2009

Disappearing in the Digital Age

Wired magazine ran a cover story in September about disappearing in the digital age, which profiled a guy who tried to fake his own death. It also went through a lot of the ins and outs of trying to erase your past - and how the people trying to find you do that.

But an interesting postscript to the story was a $5,000 reward to anyone who could track down Evan Ratliff, the author of the story. He had agreed to try to disappear after the article appeared. If he could stay hidden for 30 days, he'd earn an extra $3,000. The recap of the hunt for him is here.

Ratliff was eventually found but the story of how that happened is a worthy article itself. And that's what Wired will be publishing in their December issue. Ratliff is talking to everyone involved in hunting him down and it should make for interesting reading.

Who hasn't imagined just disappearing for good at times? It may be for romantic reasons, or just the urge to chuck it all and start over. But it appears that doing so is not as easy as it once was. As Google and other social media sites catalogue more and more of our digital lives, it's just going to get harder and harder to disappear.

Not that I was considering it of course...but still.

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