November 21st, 2009

ronin

"Author Evan Ratliff Is on the Lam. Locate Him and Win $5,000."


1. Crossing the Bay Bridge, I glance back for a last nostalgic glimpse of the skyline. Then I reach over, slide the back cover off my cell phone, and pop out the battery. A cell phone with a battery inside is a cell phone that’s trackable.

About 25 minutes later, as the California Department of Transportation database will record, my green 1999 Honda Civic, California plates 4MUN509, passes through the tollbooth on the far side of the Carquinez Bridge, setting off the FasTrak toll device, and continues east toward Lake Tahoe.

What the digital trail will not reflect is that a few miles past the bridge I pull off the road, detach the FasTrak, and stuff it into the duffle bag in my trunk, where its signal can’t be detected. Nor will it note that I then double back on rural roads to I-5 and drive south through the night, cutting east at Bakersfield. There will be no digital record that at 4 am I hit Primm, Nevada, a sad little gambling town about 40 minutes from Vegas, where $15 cash gets me a room with a view of a gravel pile.


http://www.wired.com/vanish/2009/11/ff_vanish2/

It's a fun little article. I think they could have cut out a couple of pages without losing too much, but it's still worth a read.

Reading this article, and seeing all the elaborate trouble people are willing to go to locate this guy purely for fun, reminds me very strongly of Clay Shirky's idea of a society-wide "cognitive surplus".