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My Tiny Life: Crime and Passion in a Virtual World Paperback – January 20, 1999


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Holt Paperbacks; 1st edition (January 20, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805036261
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805036268
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.2 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,157,860 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

This is the story of one user's experience at a virtual-reality community called LambdaMOO. A MOO--short for multiuser dungeon, object oriented--is a virtual place where participants can construct human-like graphical representations of themselves to interact in a simulated world. Author Julian Dibbell begins by relating the facts surrounding the case of Mr. Bungle, a character who committed the crime of "virtual rape" in this fantastic electronic world, shocking LambdaMOO's members. However, the thread of discussion about this case is minimal and the book ultimately becomes Dibbell's diary of his "research" of this virtual world, which grows gradually more obsessive, and how it affects his RL (real life).

Dibbell offers glimpses of his RL between rich, colorful, and entertaining chapters describing the online community's gossip, his interactions and relationships with the other members, and his first experience with cybersex. What is interesting is that the brief snatches of RL are bland and boring, written in a kind of script format with little more than stage directions for descriptions. This device, plus Dibbell's discussions of his dreams about the MOO, show the reader how deeply involved Dibbell becomes in this community. The turning point comes when Dibbell's membership at LambdaMOO threatens to ruin one of his closest RL relationships. --Cristina Vaamonde

From Publishers Weekly

It is a world that inhabitants dub "tiny," but its role in their lives is large. In the online community of LambdaMoo, Netizens occupy virtual living rooms and hot tubs, form close friendships and make mortal enemies, trade witticisms and discuss their lives for as many as 70 hours per week. Dibbell's account of this group is similarly large and ambitious. He eschews cliche and, in rich and active prose, frames a world that raises new questions by blurring the line not only between cyberspace and real space but between speech and action, intimacy and distance. What, for example, is the proper punishment for a virtual rapist, who wields only words as his weapon and sits hundreds of miles from his victim? Yet, for all its sociology, Dibbell's book never wanders too far from the personal. In its most compelling passages, the author contemplates fumbling toward virtual ecstasy and its impact on his real-space relationship. In a tone oscillating between invested and detached, Dibbell has written a sprawling, dazzling book, accessible to the least initiated and full of insights for the most wizened. If a complaint can be leveled, it's that he limits our view of the actual goings-on in Lambda, sacrificing the chaotic charm the book might have had without this filtering. Still, Dibbell's insight, intelligence and emotional depth make his interpretation one to behold and savor. Agent, Mark Kelley.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

3.0 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By NANCY R DEUEL on January 19, 2000
Format: Paperback
I was the character that Dibbell called "Laurel" in his book. I was "there" though the entire story he describes, reading what he read in real time, although I never "spoke" with him (on-line or off). His book is remarkably accurate, although he does not have all the facts straight of the people behind the LambdaMOO characters. He deserves a lot of credit -- he got it closer than anyone else possibly could have.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 2, 1999
Format: Paperback
Unlike most books on cyberculture, which either dryly recount someone's meteoric rise at an Internet start-up, or seek to explain the unprecedented growth of new media and to predict its endgame, this book is actually a page-turner. I couldn't put it down. In fact, I read part of it while sitting on a giant rock in a palm oasis in the middle of the Borrego Springs desert. What makes My Tiny Life a page-turner is how effectively Mr. Dibbell turns the typed-in shorthand of the LambdaMOO residents into the epic drama of a metropolis in a state of ascent or decline, depending on your point of view. Mr. Dibbell also presents himself in a brutally honest light, detailing his inner demons and conflicts and peccadilloes, as his obsession and entanglements grow. He writes with little regard as to where this book will place him in the pantheon of the new media elite. He eschews the usual smart-*** cynicism for real analysis that while sometimes layered in college dorm late night semantics, is not altogether dismissible as this new form of communication tries to understand itself.
See the full revew at BETA Online...
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 28, 1999
Format: Paperback
This book is an instant classic of an emerging genre -- the computer memoir. Mr. Dibbell's personal accounts of his experiences with LambdaMOO are fascinating, not only for those unversed in the ways of the online world, but also for "virtual oldtimers." Whether or not the reader agrees with his opinions, his frank and sometimes painful descriptions of his life, both on- and off-line, are compelling and sincere. To view his story as a definitive history of the development of LambdaMOO would be to miss the point. Through his soul-searching, the author presents us with a very human account of what most would consider an entirely technical subject. Dibbell is a rarity -- a computer-literate humanist. Required reading for everybody.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 27, 1999
Format: Paperback
I found this book compulsively readable. I was a regular on LambdaMOO at around the same time that Dibbell was, and I found his descriptions of the experience of MOO-ing (what it's like to be there and participate in various ways) quite accurate. As for his version of MOO history, I wouldn't take it too seriously, but then, he makes it pretty clear that the motivations behind and significance of the events that he recounts are disputed. What impresses me about this book is the way it captures the feeling of being in the MOO, and the analysis of the issues that got raised in various conflicts.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By John Mosman on March 24, 1999
Format: Paperback
The book is indeed a page turner. Online life and community presents opportunities and problems that are similar, yet different than RL. Julian's account was very subjective, but he opened himself up sharing the experience and the results on his RL relationships. If you accept that MOO users controlled what he experienced while online, then Julian could only report the experience. If his experience was so controlled, then it does support the Power Elite theory. I was fascinated.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Hawk on December 15, 1999
Format: Paperback
Aside from his own personal, short-term journeys in and out of LambdaMOO and fairly mundane conflict and resolution with his significant other, which provide part of the hook to the reader, Dibbell writes in an engaging way about the sociology of the MOO community. Of particular interest are the immediate and long term reactions of the community to acts, virtual though they may be, that affect the fabric of the MOO society. The book's inability to fully demonstrate the complexity of the MOO society, demonstrated by MOOers' castigation of the work, is irrelevant to the points made by the author about the relationships of the wizard power class to the other, parallel MOO societies, and to the constituent class. The strong reactions of members of the MOO society to events and characters that are perceived as harmful elements, and the attempts to call for, impose and/or resist virtual law and order in an unruly and perhaps ungovernable society provide the real conflict. Dibbell's observations of the tensions of anarchy and order in the MOO unfold in counterpoint to the author's RL events and relationships, which are described in MOOspeak, but which must inevitably follow societal rules and expectations of long standing.
I found it to be a page-turner well after the narration of the motivating event was finished.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 25, 1998
Format: Paperback
Mr. Dibell arrouses our curiosities in the realm of virtual ethics with his gripping, nitty-gritty narrative of cyber life and passion. Dibell's cyber experiences at "Moo" call for a re-evaluation of human morals in the coming age. This work will certainly stand as a timeless classic, captivating the thoughts of gereations to come, especially as our world becomes evermore wired.
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