Work at “The Office,” Virtually

If you’re a fan of the NBC program The Office because of its unsettling verisimilitude, you may be happy (or scared) to know you can sign up to work there.

DunderMifflinInfinity is the month-old online division of the cheerless paper concern, and a reported 100,000 people are now on the playroll (to coin a phrase). DMI has become a massive social network, a sort of FaceBook where nobody will “friend” Dwight, a Second Life for people underpaid in their first one.

NBC is really putting the online division to work. People apply to set up “branches” whose “employees” [no more quote marks, sorry] do various office tasks to make SchruteBucks. These are redeemed for virtual desk accessories. Branches compete for corporate’s attention.

The effort is led by Ryan Howard, the erstwhile Scranton salesguy, who is recast as a cruel corporate titan pushing the Infinity staff to higher and higher production.

This is fun stuff for fans, and one of the more inspired and original social networks built to support a TV program fan base. Alas, the site material is written by the junior varsity, and it lacks that unnerving je ne sais quois that makes the show so good.

As for user-generated stuff, it is–stop us if you’ve heard this one before–a mixed bag. Some branches get the joke more than others, as their videos show. Some employees are clearly drinking on the job (the bar party in Dundalk, Md., is highlit by one of the fans falling on her butt, and it does not appear to be staged). Some are guilty of not-funny office pranks, but some are hilarious tributes to the spirit of the show.

Oddly, if you apply to join, there may be a two-week wait before you are “hired” at a branch. It’s not clear if this is a failure in NBC’s to handle the site’s huge popularity, or whether it’s all part of the joke about DunderMifflin’s incompetence.

Unsettling verisimilitude indeed.

Explore posts in the same categories: media, NBC, social networks, The Office, video, Web 2.0

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