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Sunday, 2 January, 2000, 11:13 GMT
Planning for a year online

Maddox at home Bare walls: DotComGuy settles into his new home


An American man is planning to spend the year 2000 living entirely through the internet in an attempt to prove how much of the world now operates online.

Mitch Maddox, a 26-year-old former computer systems manager, moved into a house in Dallas, Texas on New Year's Day and plans to stay there until 2001.

He says he will live exclusively online, ordering food, clothing, household goods and anything else he needs through the internet.

He will communicate through e-mails and an online chat service, as well as providing a 24-hour live video feed from dozens of cameras around the house.

"Our vision is that new online shoppers will go to our site to learn how to utilise e-commerce," said Mr Maddox, who legally changed his name to DotComGuy and set up a company, DotComGuy Inc., to run the operation.

Promotions

When he first broached the idea to his brothers, "they laughed so hard it was six months before he shared it with anyone else," according to Mr Maddox's website.


Control Room A control room in a nearby flat monitors the output from DotComGuy
But when he started shopping for furniture for a new flat, he found the process slow and frustrating.

As he started to complain that he could do his shopping much more easily online, the idea for DotComGuy resurfaced and gained momentum.

The site says it will offer promotions and discounts at online retail outlets.

As well as webcam coverage of Mr Maddox's daily life, the DotComGuy website provides audio and video feeds, tips on how to shop online and a diary of life in the house.

So far, Mr Maddox writes that he has chatted with visitors to the site and promises a review of his grocery supplier.

Mr Maddox will not be completely isolated from contact with real human beings during his year as DotComGuy.

He can receive visitors in person, but cannot leave the premises himself.

Incentive

DotComGuy Inc. will pay Mr Maddox a salary of $24 in January, but his remuneration will double every month as an incentive for him to last out the year.

A number of firms are sponsoring Mr Maddox in the hope of obtaining publicity and boosting their online operations.

Similar experiments have been undertaken before - the ABC TV programme "Good Morning America" housed two New Yorkers in an "e-cave" for a week last year with a refrigerator, $500 a day, a computer and Internet access - but Mr Maddox has vowed to live off e-commerce longer than anyone else so far.

On his first day, the webcam was showing Mr Maddox sitting on the floor of an empty room chatting online with visitors.

Among DotComGuy's first online purchases were shampoo, toilet paper, cleaning supplies and a take-away meal.

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