Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Book Review of Unofficial Tourist's Guide to Second Life

Well, I should start this post with two bits of information. First I have not read the book entirely (and am not sure I will). Second, I am writing a book myself so I have every reason to poo poo this one. With these key points said, here is my initial take of "The Unofficial Tourist's Guide to Second Life".

First, kudos to Paul Carr and Graham Pond for getting something out in the second slot (to my knowledge this is the second book on SL). Books about SL seem to be poised to fall like rain in the next several months and making it into the #2 slot is a nice accomplishment.

Second, the price point and form factor are very interesting. The book is less than $10 (Real $ that is for all you L$ junkies) and about the size of a paperback book. It feels more like a crossword puzzle or Sudo book you might grab for the plane ride.

Third, the book is not in color. I'm not sure books on SL should be allowed that are not full color, but that is IMO of course. There should at least be some warning on Amazon.

All of this could be overlooked, until I actually opened the book and started reading. Did anyone who really knows SL review this book at all? Let me give you some examples and I'll let you be the judge.

The first sentence of the Introduction opens with "Imagine a world in which land can be bought for less than a dollar". Right off the bat this is just plain WRONG. I'm not sure land could ever be bought for a dollar, even first land ran you about two bucks while it lasted. [I stand corrected on this point, it is possible in very very rare occasions to find someone who just wants a renter for their property to cover their tier and sells the land for $1L]

The first sentence of the third paragraph contains this gem "With all the possibilities of the real world, minus such irritating restrictions as gravity, taxation, and physics, it's no wonder..." OMG, SL has gravity, taxation, and physics! I pay property taxes every month!

So, I made it through the Introduction, and am currently two pages into Chapter 1, which opens with "In a nutshell, Second Life is a virtual world created by computer programmers". Well the platform was certainly created by computer programers, but to say the world was created by computer programmers is to fundamentally miss the point of SL which is resident created content.

I'll leave this review at that. Unfair certainly as I did not make it past page 19 of over 200. I'll keep reading and report back if I can make it through this one.

Update: May 21, 2007. Well I have almost made it through the entire book and while I still feel that it delivers low marks on accuracy of SL itself, I must say I am impressed by the breadth of areas the authors have visited and cataloged. If you are bored with SL and frustrated with Search and just wondering what new thing to do or new place to visit, this book will certainly give you some ideas.

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