As I mentioned in dispatch #2, I ordered Second Life: The Official Guide. To be honest, I didn’t have high hopes for this because I had done a lot of reading online and thought that this might be a regurgitation of all that. I was wrong: this was worth the purchase.
Rather than be a step-by-step manual, I would term this book an immersive Second Life experience, without the actual virtual in world activity. I found that I could start reading the book almost anywhere and learn much more than I thought I knew, which I suppose is good, if humbling.
You will still need to find more material if you want to start coding in LSL, but the sections on places to visit (“The World Tour”) and how to make money were particularly enlightening. I was somewhat skeptical when I saw that there were testimonials from people about their SL experiences because I thought they would be too warm and fuzzy. This section, like most of the others, felt honest and straightforward to me. In particular, the constant admonitions that you will not make enough money to live on should be appreciated and understood by all potential in-world entrepreneurs.
This book is unabashedly pro-SL in its approach, but it is not one long piece of marketing collateral. I do think that they could have done a better job discussing some of the land issues for newbies. The cost of land in SL is currently quite high and I sense (and you can see in some places) a real backlash beginning. Even with the “first land” program, ownership rules might need to be modified to avoid a future world that is too divided between the “haves” and “have-nots.”
Second Life is not the first virtual world and nor will it be the last. This book is a good snapshot of what it is in 2006 and gives some ideas about where it might go. I think it will become dated rather quickly, so annual updates will probably be needed.
If you want to come up to speed quickly on SL, understand why it is becoming popular, and learn how you can maximize your experience, this book is a very good investment.