Second Life – The Official Guide has the official Linden Labs seal of approval, and is being hawked from the SL website via a link to Amazon. The book has a sort of textbook like feel, with out the annoying summaries and end of chapter quizzes. The author, Michael Rymaszewski, has written a number of strategy guides, including Fallout tactics, A post-nuclear tactical combat game: brotherhood of steel. Not sure what his past work has to do with SL, but hey, had to check him out.
The guide is broken up into three sections. Part 1, “Getting a Second Life” is the place to start ones acquaintance with SL, there are some basic do’s and don’ts (etiquette) and an overview of avatars. Nothing that wow – just good solid intro info written in a very approachable format. Chapters 2 and 3 introduce how to configure your machine for SL and getting around SL as well as a tourists view of SL (look ma, neat stuff).
Part 2, “Living a Second Life,” gives you the low-down on SL economics, customizing your avatar, land ownership and building things (prims) in SL. Chapter 8 is particularly interesting because it was co-authored by Corey Ondrejka, the CTO at Linden and Ben Batstone – Cunningham, a long time SL programmer and scripting hero.
I have not looked closely at Part 3 “Success in Second Life.” Scanning it however, it looks like more “neat stuff” and little of interest to educators. Chapter 9 is a compendium of folks the writers find interesting for various reasons. Chapter 10 is all about making money in SL. Chapter 11 has more resident profiles (tons of ‘em scattered throughout the book). Chapter 12 is SL “cultural” timeline and Chapter 13 takes a guess at the future of SL.
Appendix A, “Real-Life Education in Second Life” is the chapter that I had the most hope for, at least as a way to better orient myself to what’s happing in SL related to education. Written by Pathfinder Linden (RL John Lester), this brief section of the book offers a few general tips (seen elsewhere, but I cant remember where) on how to get started as an educator in SL. I’ve already reviewed a few of the SL Ed resources including SLED email lists and SL Education websites (the link to my site). Pathfinder Linden also suggests joining he SL Education group in-world.
Having given you some basic hook-ups on SL Education, this section also includes the standard fare on buying land in SL, educational discounts on islands for educational endeavors etc. Next up, a few high-spots on education destinations and other resources like the SLED Picayune and more than a few libraries in-world as well – more on these in a follow-up post here soon.
Appendix A ends with a list of successful strategies for educators working in Second Life. Good stuff – again, more on this later here on my blog. All things considered, this section would have been a lot more helpful at the very beginning of my SL adventures. Helpful for sure now for other reasons (e.g. scripting tips etc.), but not much for someone looking for SL educational resources.
I have the CD that came with the book to – but cant play around with it now… I’m in the middle of Mac upgrade HELL. The MacBook I recently got via work does not run the SL client (or SPSS, or other stuff my trusty old G4 ran). Crap! More on this later – when I rail on the technology issues that are in some ways possible barriers to using SL as an platform for educational research. For now, I’m wrangling my way off the MacBook and back to a G4.
My final take is that there is only one major fault with the guidebook – there is no index, which makes searching through the book difficult and tedious. Plus, how hard is it to build an index nowadays? Annoying. So, would I recommend the book? Yes, but, you may want to get it from your local library and give it a once over before you spend $35 at Amazon.