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My Tiny Life: Crime and Passion in the Virtual World Paperback – Jan 1999

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Paperback, Jan 1999
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Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Henry Holt & Company (Jan. 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805036261
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805036268
  • Product Dimensions: 15.5 x 2.7 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,405,646 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Amazon Review

In the early 90s, writer Julian Dibbell dwelt in LambdaMOO, at a time when a virtual rape took place--forcing the stirring of what he calls a tinysociety.

A MOO, or MUD object-oriented (MUD for multi-user dungeon), is an online role-playing game where players share virtual space, build rooms and interact socially. Dibbell watched, listened and participated while the community--for such the conglomeration of players had become--debated what action to take against the "rapist": whether to "toad" him (shut down his account) or simply subject him to some form of virtual shunning.

Dibbell, who also writes for Village Voice and Time magazine, chronicles his time in LambdaMOO in My Tiny Life, alternating between various RL (real life) locales and his life in VR (virtual reality). But the book offers more than just a timeline of virtual conversations and some racy cybersex encounters. Dibbell examines not only the evolution of politics on the MOO-- "Labmdamocracy", as he puts it--but also how the MOO fitted into the context of concomitant technological developments.

The book's biggest drawback is that it reads like a series of magazine articles strung together, and the RL sections attempt give you the feeling you're in a real-life MOO by repeating phrases like, "The Author is here". It seems unduly pretentious: since the author is narrating the story, do we really need to be told this? Nevertheless, the book is beautifully crafted and well worth reading.--Liz Bailey --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


'Highly recommended.' (- Times Higher Education Supplement) 'If you like complex narratives of Utopia defiled, this is for you.' -- - Mail on Sunday

'Spectacularly well written . . . compelling reading.' -- - Evening Standard

A gnostic parable of a fall from Nirvana' -- i-D

An intriguing read.' -- - Daily Telegraph --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
When this book was written, soon after the Internet was "born", I, like most people in my part of the world, was limited by finances - not all of us had the advantages of our American friends, not all of us could log in from work. Huge telephone bills and horrible little low-baud modems meant online time was strictly limited. I was then and am now, jealous!
In this book Julian, a journalist, describes his experiences with living in (for several hours a day) what was basically the very first Multiplayer Virtual World (at least the first to use computers as a medium) - he was able to justify this by calling it research for this book.
It's a fascinating read. The world he describes is a real, whole world, constructed purely by words. The "world" program describes to the player what is around him, a room, a garden - and she then describes what she does. Compared to today's Multiplayer Online Worlds or MMOs this sounds limiting but it is actually limitless! And the pure focus on words rather than the visual, or on the game or puzzle as in today's environments, (examples are A Tale in the Desert, EVE Online, Second Life, or There) means social interaction becomes the ONLY gameplay. In most modern MMOs the official gameplay, in my experience, is about killing more beasties to get money so that you can buy better gear and kill harder beasties. While there is some social interaction the "game" element limits and controls it. Money drives the virtual worlds as well as the "real" one.
Of course a world constructed by words is not new. A good book does that! But this is a world in which there are OTHER LIVE HUMANS.
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Format: Paperback
This book is superbly written. I can't remember what drew me to getting hold of and reading this book but I am glad I did. It may have been a vague interest in the concept of virtual worlds that is sure to become more and more important to with the advance of technology. I concede that not everyone would get into this, but it worked for me.

Virtual worlds must be of great interest to sociologists and psychologists. It is astonishing how the virtual world takes on many of the attributes of a real world, including politics.

I even created my own account in this virtual world and was amazed to find it there, just as the author had described it. I didn't stay long, but I did get chatting to someone who had known the author (by his virtual name) and didn't think much of the book; I suspect he hadn't read it or didn't appreciate good literature.
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By A Customer on 5 April 1999
Format: Hardcover
This is the story of the author's travels in a text-based landscape. What I didn't expect was how intoxicating a vision it would be - you can make your home in the roof-space of an opera house entirely contained in the jewelled eye of the trout on the cover of 'Little, Big', and the body you wear can be seven-foot and freckled, or small, plump and with tawny fur - or either on alternate days. I followed the events with interest, and ended the book much more tempted by LambdaMoo than when I began, and also more wary - and respectful. I have friends who have online relationships which I never quite understood - I guess now I'm closer.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 23 Nov. 1999
Format: Paperback
The temptation to yell "GET A LIFE" throughout this book is almost overwhelming, yet I had to finish it. It was weirdly compelling. I kept expecting it to turn out to be a novel rather than a true account, and even now I can hardly believe that anybody would choose to spend large parts of their lives in the 'virtual' world described in the book. Ultimately Dibbell did not convince me to come to a conclusion other than that people who spend a minimum of 30 hours, and sometimes up to 60 hours a week, logged on to their computers playing this game are seriously wacky. Still, it is at least thought-provoking.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 23 reviews
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
"Laurel" speaks 20 Jan. 2000
By NANCY R DEUEL - Published on
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.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Interesting work of cyber enthnography 2 Feb. 1999
By A Customer - Published on
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...
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Fascinating 29 Jun. 1999
By A Customer - Published on
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.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Okay, it's biased, but who cares? 27 Dec. 1999
By A Customer - Published on
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.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Provides a good sense of online communities 24 Mar. 1999
By John Mosman - Published on
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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