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Being Virtual: Who You Really are Online (Science Museum TechKnow Series) Paperback – 4 Apr 2008
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Glossy and very personal view on virtual worlds and the people who inhabit them highly enjoyable to read PopularScience.co.uk
From the Author
Nobody could accuse either the media or the general public of ignoring virtual worlds, but while much has been written about the technology behind them and both the opportunities and threats they present, one thing has been noticeably absent: the stories of the people who inhabit them.
Using my own personal journey to find my identity online after a brain disease robbed me of my own (and left me in a wheelchair for 8 years) nearly twenty years ago, I decided to write a book that follows the search for the answer to that ever present question of 'who am I?' into the virtual realm of 21st century 3D immersive environments.
By combining the testimony of experts in the field to answer questions such as 'can an avatar be raped?' with the real life back story of some of the most fascinating characters to inhabit Second Life, There.com, World of Warcraft and other worlds, I have been able to paint a picture of identity in this digital age. Throwing my own story into the mix holds it all together, as I searched for a sense of belonging and worth at exactly the same time as the very first virtual communities were starting to appear across the Internet.
This is not a textbook, nor a technical reference work. However, of the 20 books I have had published over the last couple of decades it is by far and away the best read I have written as well as being the most satisfying and personally empowering project I have ever undertaken.
To quote Michael Wilson, writing in the foreword to Being Virtual: "As these environments become more and more commonplace, understanding how they fit into our lives becomes more important, whether we use them to communicate, or whether we know other people who do so. As a part of the fabric of our day-to-day lives, like email, instant and text messaging, understanding the real people in the environments is as important as understanding the environments themselves. Being Virtual is the first book to focus on the real content of virtual worlds: the people who inhabit them and their stories. Because no matter how different you may be from your avatar, it is you who invented it, and it is in some way reflective of who you are. Being Virtual brings you the back story behind the characters, and helps us begin to understand the true impact of these environments on today's society and, interestingly enough, vice versa."See all Product description
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Not all of the stories of are from persons with disabilities. The others are from self-seeking souls looking for the right vehicle for self expression, which they find online.
The personal touch of the book is well balanced with an informing narrative that qualifies the book as a primer for Second Life and other Virtual World platforms. The cover of the book speaks to this element and, unfortunately, only this element. If I were to judge the book by the cover, which I initially did, the autobiographical element was not something I expected to encounter within these pages. They appeared almost as easter-eggs that wanted to be found. In that sense, the book cover is the only liability.
I'm not sure what the mood is these days on Second Life. But Winder's presents the best argument so far that this is more than just mere novelty.