Monday, May 3, 2010

Who Is Markie Macdonald Private Eye?

She's Scottish, she's an IT manager and she's the best virtual gumshoe in the biz. Oh and she may not be a she. Last week I followed the case of British couple Amy Taylor and Dave Pollard who got divorced because Dave was having a virtual affair in Second Life. The story got a lot of yuks in the national press and became the butt of late night jokes. I didn't get too excited about it until I read this piece in The Guardian which mentions how the suspicious wife finally got proof of her husband's philandering activities. She hired virtual detective Markie Macdonald to uncover the truth. Who is this flame haired Jessica Rabbit-esque spook? The Times explains in a 2005 article:

By day “she” is an IT manager of unknown gender somewhere in Scotland. By night she manages and pays an international staff of 12 private eyes who keep her Second Life offices open 24 hours a day. Markie has earned about £50 in real money in the past few months. “It started as word of mouth,” she said. “We have people in love and getting married in SL and getting married is a commitment not to be unfaithful. I could see people who were married in SL paying for dances, sex, etc, and thought ‘I wonder if their partner knows’.” . . .“Honey traps” are the agency’s preferred method: an attractive male or female character flirts with the target and then a sleuth photographs the couple in flagrante or, because this is a very different world, teleports the suspicious spouse right to the scene.

With a little further digging I found out via New World Notes that Markie had come across Dave and Amy before. In fact Amy hired Markie in 2005 to vet Dave and see if he was the sort of person who would flirt with someone else's avatar. He barely passed that honey trap test but Amy was so pleased that she invited Markie to the virtual wedding (alas, she couldn't go). Wagner James Au of NWN has an interview with Markie and pictures (virtual ones) as well as a recounting of the 2005 investigation here. I'm not dissing Markie's detecting skills in the slightest but Dave does not seem to be sharpest pixel on the screen having apparently fallen for the same honey trap on THREE separate occasions. Still, I'll bet Markie has quite a few other interesting stories to tell and if no one's said it to her before, let me be the first: you should write a book.
(I recycled this post from two years ago and, alas, as yet, Markie hasnt taken my advice)