Is It Real Or Is It Jaffe?
Jaffe, a new-media marketing consultant and famous author, told Over the Line he was sitting at his computer when he saw a virtual Rabbit take a watch out of its waistcoat pocket, look at the watch, and then pop down a large rabbit hole under a virtual hedge.
"In another moment, down I went," said Jaffe "never once considering how in the world I was to get out again. The rabbit hole went straight on like a tunnel for some way, and then dipped suddenly down, so suddenly that I had not a moment to think about stopping myself before I found myself falling down a very deep well, when suddenly, thump! thump! down I came upon a virtual heap of sticks and dry leaves, and the fall was over."
Living in a virtual world has been pretty good so far, according to Jaffe. "For one thing, I got to add about a foot of height to my avatar, and now have the body of an NFL linebacker. I was also going to endow myself with an encyclopedic knowledge of new-media marketing, but then I realized I already have that."
Mrs. Jaffe says that the house is considerably less messy with her husband now living in the computer, not leaving his socks and underwear about the bedroom and his wet gym clothes hanging off the bathroom doorknob. "The kids think it's pretty cool to show off their Dad like they do the Chinese fighting fish in the bowl next to the computer," she said. "Joseph turns himself into a virtual Sponge Bob or NBC Universal executive to amuse the kids."
After several days of wandering the rapidly changing Second Life landscape, "you have to be careful," said Jaffe. "All of a sudden some Fortune 500 company will toss up a storefront right in the middle of your bike path." He's launched a virtual new-media marketing firm called crayon to keep occupied. "You'd think it would be really fun to be Tom Cruise or Osama bin Laden, but after a while the novelty wears off," he said.
Jaffe noted that he has signed up a wide variety of virtual clients--from the Nigerian Oil Ministry to the Squamish Five to 19-year-old Bronx teenage rapper Cory Gunz. "The great thing about working in the virtual world is that you can have virtually anybody as a client and don't have to do virtually any work. Not unlike some first-life consulting businesses."
The hardest part of his virtual business is taking his virtual clients out to virtual three-martini lunches on the small weekly stipend of L$ (Second Life's official currency) that he and all residents get. "Whoever set the stipend limit thinks we should be going to Olive Garden or Outback, I guess," said Jaffe.
Asked if and when he plans to return home to Westport, Jaffe simply smiled and answered, "When the press runs out."