Next week we’ll be talking about the privacy implications of new media. Its easy, when addressing this topic, to talk in dire terms, about the death of privacy, the paranoia of total surveillance, etc (and pretty easy, also, to dismiss it all as a “what’s the big deal, I’ve got nothing to hide” issue). Not to play into that, but this article just appeared in the London Times, about a man who, for the purposes of a film on privacy, tried to disappear completely, and hired detectives to try to find him. Its a fun read, and it does help to set the stage for thinking about contemporary privacy concerns, which are more about all the data traces we leave behind, and the way little bits of information can be aggregated.
Jean-Paul Flintoff, “Can you disappear in surveillance Britian?” Times Online, April 17, 2010
Just a few months ago, there was a similar experiment documented in Wired, where the pursuants were not detectives, but anyone on the web who wanted to join the game.
Evan Ratliff, “Writer Evan Ratliff Tried to Vanish: Here’s What Happened” Wired, Nov 2009