I finally finished a book that’s been sitting in my “Throne Repository” for several months, so today I’d like to share The Making of Second Life: Notes from the New World.
The Making of Second Life: Notes from the New World
This book chronicles the growth of Second Life through the middle of 2007, as witnessed, researched and interviewed by former Linden staff journalist Wagner James “Hamlet” Au. It covers everything from the basics of Second Life to reviews of Linden Labs business practices — and, yes, furry sex.
In summary, I found it to be a relatively pleasant read (with a few dry spells). If you’re interested in commentary on user-generated content or the growth of virtual worlds, or if you’d like to know more about Second Life in particular, it’s a reasonably good introductory read. If you’re already an online worldbuilding samurai, there are some fun anecdotes, but you might feel that the book is recapping things you’ve heard in 3 years of blogger journalism on SL.
There are no gigantic surprises in this book. A very quick primer on the rise of virtual worlds from MUD, through Habitat, through Ultima Online, and presents Second Life as the pinnacle of virtual world acheivement. Au takes a strongly pro-SL stance from the outset, rarely questioning a future vision where Second Life is the platform for virtual worlds. Absent is any serious discussion of some technical issues (*cough* scalability *cough* client performance). There are some heartwarming anecdotes (the crack-house squatter who became a professional third-party SL content developer, the inevitable “we met in SL, and then really got together” story, and umpteen tales of awesome entrepreneurship), and recaps of many of SL’s least-proud moments (harassment, racism, and protest).
Want to hear about Randy Farmer’s viral grenade incident? How about the Tax Revolt of 2006? Coining some fun terms like “Bebop Reality” to describe a world where aliens, cartoon characters, and humans can engage in everything from combat to couture, Au paints the story of a good half-dozen “major world events” that help the uninitiated to understand the world, citizens, and culture of Second Life.
The Making of Second Life in many ways feels like another take on the types of experiences portrayed in My Tiny Life in its madcap tour of elements of SL’s virtual society. If you’re curious about business possibilities in SL, or if you want to hear about camping chairs and green dots, then this might be the book for you. It’s a read I recommend for any SL or VW afficionado whose reading queue is on the thin side this summer, but I wouldn’t go to heroic lengths to squeeze the book in.