After the Web hype
Net Starlets of the Past
By Konrad Lischka
Part 4: A Computer Scientist in a Film Costume
It should be an unusual costume that he wanted to score with at Penguicon 2003 -- a convention of open source, science fiction, and fantasy fans. So the computer scientist Jay Maynard made his costume himself: a glowing plastic armor on shoulders, back, and arms, with leggings and a skintight white suit. The heroes of the computer world of the movie "Tron" looked similar -- only without the belly, the glasses, and the moustache of Maynard.
Indeed the computer scientist won the prize for the technically best costume with this outfit -- and documented his construction minutely on the net. After references in web magazines like "Slashdot", Maynard's page became very famous very fast. He gave his first interview in May 2004 on the US talk show "Jimmy Kimmel Live", in between Maynard has a Wikipedia entry. "Three or four months it was very intense", he recalls today: "I had to deal with it every day." Today he still gets requests from TV stations.
These first weeks were bad, when "thousands of people on the net commented my costume and said mostly negative things." Maynard himself wrote in the Wikipedia about himself: "His overweight exterior and his skintight costume were subject of much derision on the net." In between another, less harsh Wikipedia author has eliminated this sentence.
By now the tone has changed and become friendlier. Maynard says today: "After the first phase, which made me very sad, the feedback was mostly pleasant. I met several nice people through it." After three years Maynard comes to a positive conclusion of his net fame. Only once it has earned him money, for the talk show appearances -- "a nice five-figure sum" at least. But more important for him is: "I am much more self-confident in public. After TV has shown this nationwide, nearly nothing embarrasses me."
Without his costume only few recognize him on the street. Maynard still lives in his 11000-people community of Fairmont, Minnesota.