A few months ago, as I began taking a closer look at Second Life, I started looking for journal articles and books about it. One of the first things I noticed was that there was a clear heyday of Second Life literature from around 2008 to 2012. While there have been articles and books published since then, most of the literature falls in that time frame. There could be a few reasons for this. Maybe the fascination with Second Life tapered off. Maybe people felt the existing body of literature was sufficient. Maybe Second life hasn’t changed enough to warrant subsequent works. It’s beyond the scope of this post to ponder those possibilities, but it’s proper to point out.
Despite the dearth of recent publications about Second Life, I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge the large community of Second Life denizens who blog, vlog, and participate in forums. They make it fairly easy to find up-to-date information about Second Life activities.
When I was looking for literature, I bought several books Second Life in particular and virtual worlds in general, and now that the semester is over, I can start to tackle the to-be-read pile. The plan is to read them and write reviews over the summer. While I suspect most will be valuable in their own way, some of them will be less than impressive. That includes the book being reviewed here: How To Get Yourself A Second Life: A Guide For Newbies.
When purchasing this book, I didn’t pay attention to the page count, and perhaps I should have. With only 40 or so pages, it’s quite thin. It was published in 2012 and written by Daniel Harris. In the Introduction, he wrote that he joined Second Life in 2006, so by 2012 he could probably be considered as expert as any. The book was self-published using CreateSpace, which is fine, but reading through the book it’s apparent it would have benefited from an editor. For example, n the introduction, the author wrote, “…I am one of the many inhabitant’s of the online environment known as Second Life.” A decent editor would have caught the error where he used inhabitant’s instead of inhabitants. The latter is plural, while the former is singular and possessive.
Aside from minor quibbles over the poor editing and the author’s style of writing, it is informative. Much of it still stands up, such as the sections Five Things To Do Just After You Get Started In Second Life, How Do I…?, Tips For Noobs #1: How To See What You’re Doing, Tips For Noobs #2: How To Dress Yourself, Part One: Clothing Layers, and Tips For Noobs #3: How To Dress Yourself, Part Two: Attachments. The fact that these sections still hold up points to the slow pace of change in Second Life, at least in some respects.
However, there are also some sections that are outdated and could stand to be updated. The section Ways To Get Inworld: Second Life Viewers is one page, and half of that is taken up by logos of third-party viewers. Despite showing their logos, in the text he merely points out their existence. He doesn’t name them, describe them, or evaluate them in any way. Most of the text on this page describes the original SL Viewer, but points to the then “upcoming” Viewer 2. As of this writing, the most current version of the Second Life Viewer is 18.104.22.1688266.
Other aspects of modern Second Life are completely missing. There is no mention of Voice Chat. Linden Homes and Premium Perks are also absent. These are features that didn’t exist when the book was written, but are important for current “noobs” to know about.
I don’t think the book is a total loss, but I don’t think it’s worth the seven dollars I spent for it either. The book would probably be worthwhile if the author took the time to rewrite it to reflect the current state of Second Life, and if he hired a good editor. It has the makings of a worthwhile book, but it isn’t one yet. If someone was new and asked be to recommend a resource to find out more, I would point them in the direction of the Second Life Community instead of this book.