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Vanish by Evan Ratliffs - Essay Example

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 This essay discusses the case Evan Ratliff’s account of the month he spent attempting to live under a fake identity while thousands of Wired readers tried to hunt him down and win a $5000 prize. The big question Ratliff was trying to answer was one he had written about extensively before…
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Vanish by Evan Ratliffs
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Download file to see previous pages First, while the idea of someone living a life on the run is certainly exciting, Ratliff wasn’t for the most part being physically chased. The people “hunting him” were largely doing so from their homes, in front of computers, writing code and scanning through Twitter accounts. That’s not very exciting and extremely technical to explain. Secondly, there are really two stories to tell – Ratliff’s story and those of the people who were hunting him down. Since Ratliff himself is writing this article, how can he do that? How can he technically be two places at once?
Ratliff immediately tackles the problem of making a very technical story gripping by opening with his “getaway,” not unlike the way it’s been seen in “man on the run” movies from The Fugitive to The Bourne Identity. It starts with a first-person explanation of his “escape” and gives no reference at first to this being part of a magazine-sponsored contest. He uses words loaded with intrigue like “fleeing my life” and “going on the lam” (1). He details all the steps he takes to “confuse investigators” and calls an oil change on a car he is about to sell “another head fake” (1). This is an exciting language that catches the reader immediately. What could just be a scene of an average guy getting an oil change, picking up business cards, and shopping at Best Buy becomes the set-up for an ingenious plot?
This language also makes the sections with all of the technical explanations easier to understand. Most of the tracking down of Ratliff would be done by people sitting alone in rooms, in front of keyboards, using lines of code and IP address tracking software. Too much technical jargon – even in a publication like Wired – does not make for an interesting story. But just as he heightened the tension during his pre-escape shopping trip with his use of word choice, he does the same when describing one of his trackers.   ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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