Writer Evan Ratliff pondered the same question while writing an article for Wired magazine about people who for various reasons had tried to start over with completely new lives . A few months later he found himself a willing volunteer to find out firsthand what the experience entailed. With a 24 hour head start, $2000 cash stuffed in his belt and a fake office to set up in Las Vegas he drove his Honda Civic across the Bay bridge, then out of California in a bid to disappear entirely. Leaving behind family, a girlfriend, and any semblance of a normal life for a month while assuming an entirely new identity.
The magazine periodically published clues and made accessible to their online community all the information a private investigator might be privy to, as well as placing a $5000 bounty on Evan's head. His travels took him across the country a few times, his disguises changed almost daily and online groups spontaneously emerged to track and document his every move. Amateurs and professionals from coast to coast took to the chase disseminating all the details they could uncover, staking out airports and bars, even trying to glean details from acquaintances as varied as his cat sitter.
In the end it wasn't nearly what Evan had expected when he began.