Chip Title
In the spirit of Surveillance week, we thought it would be fitting to investigate just how much information any ordinary private citizen can find out about another ordinary private citizen. We thought it would perhaps be more interesting—even fun—if the private citizen under our watchful eye was the noted Hotwired fiction writer Ned Brainard. Hiring a private investigator sounded glamorous but, since we are private citizens on a budget, we thought we'd simply enlist the talents of an ordinary San Francisco snoop. Our agent, Clandestina, had no budget, no special equipment, and no information about her subject. And just look at all the neat info she got! (Of course we would never publish the really juicy stuff—but considering his credit card balances and other debts, we hope Ned takes the time to check out Ken Kurson's financial security article in the December 20 issue of STIM.)
1 Ned's real name, widely believed to be "Chip," is actually Albert.  
2 Ned has a Structure credit card. (For those of you who don't know the store, it's vaguely reminiscent of the early 80's mall store Chess King. Or, as Clandestina put it, "a Montgomery Ward's boutique.")
3 Ned has never declared bankruptcy in any state, nor does he own any property.
4 Ned lives in a nice neighborhood in San Francisco. We learned the names and addresses (and some phone numbers) of all of his neighbors, their median income, and their median rent.
5 We also got his birthdate, Social Security number, height and weight, DMV record, and all of his past addresses going back to Jersey City. (Hey Ned—I live only blocks from your old place in NYC!) More amazing still, Clandestina obtained his entire credit report including balances on each and every credit card, student loan status, etc.

Your favorite Flux fiction!But the best, most AWESOME BONUS thing we got was Mr. Brainard's original query letter applying to work at Wired, Inc. In it he describes himself as "truly a member of the Wired generation." Who could say no to that? And of course they didn't. In fact, scrawled across the copy of the cover letter we received was a cryptic note, perhaps from the father figure of said generation, Louis Rossetto himself: "has some promise." And look how that promise has been fulfilled! Flux is an important part of digital culture.

The moral of the story? Even the life of a pseudonymous gossip columnist can become an open book.   </end>