The challenges of Ecommerce were laid bare by four volunteers who survived more than four days after starting with only a credit card, an online PC and a bathrobe.
The four, sequestered into separate rooms in a spartan central London youth hostel for 100 hours, clothed and fed themselves, communicated and accomplished a personal task using only the PC and a credit card with a £500 limit.
Their Eordeal was relayed by Web cameras to a dedicated page on Microsoft's MSN.co.uk site. Microsoft and the University of Hertfordshire sponsored the stunt.
Emma Gibson, 30, passed the time researching emigration to Australia; Glyn Thomas, 45, planned a forthcoming holiday and played Net chess; Robin Katz, 46, upgraded her Internet investigation expertise; and Martin Kennedy, 67, researched his family tree.
The first day was impaired by a stream of press photographers, but confidence in Ecommerce was bolstered by the arrival of food and toiletries Ebought from a supermarket.
Gibson later bought a top and skirt; Katz ordered stationery and a microwave oven; Thomas ordered books for his nieces; and Kennedy bought clothes, books and a Walkman.
But by Wednesday, two of the four were still in bathrobes. The next day Gibson applied for a job, Thomas bought flowers for his sister in Cardiff, Kennedy was reading a book on t'ai chi and Robin had her microwave.
The university plans to release a report on the experiment later this year.
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