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The Making of Second Life: Notes from the New World Hardcover – Bargain Price, February 26, 2008

4.5 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews

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Hardcover, Bargain Price, February 26, 2008
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

For those unfamiliar with the hype or the ridicule, Second Life is a massively multi-user online world, a vast simulation created by ordinary loggers-in using 3-D graphic-design tools from the site's proprietor, Linden Labs. Posing as animated avatars, Residents ramble or fly through the videoscape; they socialize with other avatars, create art, have sex, build cities, open shops and nightclubs, spend Linden Dollars (redeemable for real dollars) and fight wars, all while seated at their computer screens. Au, a journalist who chronicled the site as Linden Labs' reporter-avatar, visits the usual dot-com–saga touchstones. There's the shoestring startup by eccentric geeks; the pilgrimage to Burning Man; the bloviating visionary founder, Philip Rosedale (I'm passionate about Second Life because there doesn't need to be a God); the marketing gobbledygook about Leverag[ing] Metaverse Brands. Au celebrates Second Life as a seedbed for unfettered cybercapitalism, a liberating outlet for the masses' pentup creativity and a lucid dream that erases the virtual-real divide. Alas, in his telling, Second Life's ongoing fantasia—the monkey now perched on the wing screamed 'DIEEEE' as he strafed a well-armed babe in a bikini—feels very much like a recounted dream: creative, certainly, but rather tedious and patently irrelevant. (Mar.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Au, who has written feature articles for the Los Angeles Times and online magazines such as Salon, acted as the embedded journalist during the first three years of the ever popular online world Second Life. As opposed to other virtual realities, such as The Simms, the residents of Second Life have the full power to cocreate themselves and the environment in which they live, building entire cities that morph continuously as members expand on each other’s work. The epitome of Web 2.0, where users take an active role in creating content, Second Life has all the features of real life and more: money, real estate, bars and other hangouts, deeply developed personal relationships, even a quirky version of sex. Possibilities are only restrained by the imagination. Au charts the course of the evolution of Second Life from an idea in its creators’ minds to the megahit that it is today, with many surprising revelations on the possibilities that unfold within this virtual reality. --David Siegfried

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: HarperBusiness; First Edition edition (March 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061353205
  • ASIN: B002XULY8M
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,108,875 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
It can be hard to justify buying a book about a place as fluid and temporal as Second Life. In a world with a constantly-shifting, user-created landscape, what could one write that will be of any use in the next few years?

Given this challenge, Wagner James Au crafts an excellent book about the history and nature of Second Life. Leveraging his status as a former employee and virtual embedded journalist, Au shares with the reader his well-researched subjective viewpoint into a world of fluid forms and fluid personalities. Touching on such topics as the economy, socialization, politics, the nature of self, and the interaction between the real world and the artificial one, the book weaves a narrative that is one part company history, one part personal experience, and one part industry commentary.

While the book overall is an interesting read, I found myself having to swallow some significant typos and informational errors. This is a pet peeve of mine, and I feel the book really could have used a second editorial pass and some fact-checking (for instance, the 3D embedded content viewer inDuality ([...]) is made by Pelican Crossing, not Penguin Crossing). Print is not the web, and sadly, once one publishes an edition of a book with this many errors, it's published forever.

But if you have a tolerance for typos and a willingness to do your own fact-checking (which will be necessary anyway, given the changeable nature of the subject matter), this book is a good read and can serve as a starting point for further forays into the field of 3D interactive worlds, and Second Life specifically.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I've been part of the SL community for 8 years and I really enjoyed this book. I recall being part of a political debate that Wagner was hosting in SL and really enjoyed the experience. This brought back a lot of memories.
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Format: Hardcover
Wagner James Au, as both journalist and end-user, is privy to two intertwining histories: that of the California startup Linden Lab and the rapidly expanding online virtual world of Second Life. His "The Making of Second Life: Notes from the New World" is a largely anecdotal account of these two histories. Whether by eye witness or a careful, thorough reading of Second Life's periphery blogosphere, Au does a nice job of synopsizing key moments in the evolution of Linden Lab and Second Life. He also qualifies his reporting by theorizing characteristics of human behavior in avatar form, i.e. his concept of Mirrored Flourishing where the user improves his or her physical world standing through interaction with virtual worlds. "The Making of Second Life" would benefit from closer reliance on empirical social science statistics and surveys---rather than largely anecdotal observations---for drawing conclusions about behavior in virtual world. However, despite this aside, Au's work is rife with rich, colorful accounts of the larger-than-life personalities and events in Second Life. It is an invaluable primer for anyone interested in Second Life history from an author who has been there since its inception.
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Format: Hardcover
The Making of Second Life is THE book you want to read before any other book about Second Life. Whether you are a 'Second Lifer' or just a curious review reader without any Second Life experience- this book is a must read for anyone even remotely interested in simulated 3d experiences of any kind or even ways of transcending the human embodiment into flesh. It will give you a great insight into what Second Life is (do NOT assume upon the name!), and how Second Life became what it is today. From the conception of the idea, formation of Linden Lab, first residents experiences, romance, protests, war...a fantastic and upbeat read that doesn't ever stray away into 'too much geek talk' or leave you with questions unanswered. Wagner James Au (virtually responsive to the name Hamlet Au) has made a great contribution to the history of human virtuality by writing this book. Thank you.
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Format: Hardcover
A very comfortably understandable read, even for the non-technarati. As a very involved resident of Second Life I very much enjoyed this insider look at the beginnings and build up of what has become Second Life. It goes over the people involved, the expectations of the software platform and it's users, and obstacles, and the often unexpected outcomes that overturned a lot of preconceived notions of what people thought was going to happen. Because Second Life is always changing, there is some dated information, but a nice added chapter to bring people up to date on the most recent events and changes. I enjoyed the read, and would recommend this to anyone really interested in Second Life. I've already loaned it to friends who use Second Life and have gotten favorable responses. As a hard back book it's a bit pricey. So a note to the author/publisher: Hey! Fancy putting a digital publication for sale inside of SL? For a less weighty fee? Right now I'm sending my hardback copy to a few SL active friends who might not otherwise get a look at it.
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Format: Hardcover
In 2001, two years into its life, the staff of Linden Lab sat huddled around in a circle and asked themselves one question: "What is this company about?" It sounds like something you would want decided well in advance, but this hazy openendedness seems to typify the spirit behind the strange phenomenon of Second Life.

Fortunately, for the uninitiated, and the mildly interested (like me), there is a book that tells you all you need to know. I was surprised at myself for liking it, but it gives an interesting insight into the process of building a successful dotcom. Deep and meaningful it isn't, but it does more than just portray events in Second Life, and landmarks on the way to making it the world's biggest (?) online community. It begins with the story of the startup, the connections and friendships, the doubts, the constraints, and the skeptics, before giving a topic-by-topic coverage of the metaverse itself. Even in the early chapters, there is a certain lack of pure narrative, so even though Au has seen inside the offices of Linden Lab, he tells relatively little of the story of the business, which might have made the book more interesting. Nevertheless, we do gain some insight into the mind of Philip Rosedale, the visionary entrepreneur behind Second Life, although I'm sure there are better business biographies on the market.

When Au covers the stories within Second Life, there are the usual ones about those who have made real money from the metaverse, and the rather extraordinary, including one about an in-world private investigator who gets paid to catch cheating husbands within the virtual world.
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