The Unofficial Tourists’ Guide to Second Life – factcheck

My friend Nick was kind enough to lend me his copy of The Unofficial Tourists’ Guide to Second Life by Paul Carr and Graham Pond, and couldn’t help point out a few interesting inaccuracies as he did so.  Here is my open letter to the authors, in order to correct some minor problems…

Page 115 – 116 (under ‘Shopping and commerce’), the history of IBM in Second Life is told. IBM’s CEO is named as Edward Palmisano (that would be Sam, actually).

“At the time of writing, the IBM island Hursley, is being kept strictly under wraps, so we’ll have to wait and see what IBM has in mind for its vast virtual market.”

I can only assume the wording must have been written a while ago, since we’ve been quite open about what goes on at Hursley island since September 2006 and the IBM cluster of sims since December 2006.

Even worse…

“Incidentally, the vast majority of groups in Second Life are free to join. Because it’s not about money – it’s about community. IBM Employees Worldwide, however, costs a Linden tenner. Make of that what you will.”

What I make of it is that ‘IBM Employees Worldwide’ is by no means the official IBM group, or the only group for IBMers. Searching Second Life for ‘IBM’ groups gives an amazing array of groups but not all of them have been created by IBM or even IBM employees. In fact, anyone can create a group, and while the goal of bringing people together is a good one it’s unfortunate that there’s a joining fee. Personally, I would never join a group in SL that charged for the privilege.


Page 219 (under ‘Useful Second Life websites’) gets listed. Yay. Embarrassingly, it’s introduced as

“The home of Roo Reynolds, the man tasked by IBM to spend much of his first life in Second Life…”.

Eek. Eightbar is very much a group effort, but I can’t let that introduction pass without pointing to Ian ‘epredator’ Hughes, by far the most prolific writer here on Eightbar. Introducing this blog as “the home of Roo Reynolds” is true, but gives a very incomplete picture. Anyone who knows the story of Eightbar will know that it was Ian who got me excited about virtual worlds and since the earliest days he’s been a hugely influential part of Eightbar and IBM’s work in Second Life. He’s also the guy behind Wimbledon in Second Life, something for which I somehow also get credit in the same paragraph.

Other than that, it looks like a relatively interesting book. I shall pick through it properly soon. It’s always going to be a challenge to create a rough guide to such a diverse place as Second Life, but Paul and Graham do a decent job of covering some of the interesting areas. It manages to introduce the subject of Furries, Svarga, Dublin, Darfur, Jessie, Luskwood, Gor, Tringo, Aloft, Midnight City, Pontiac/Motorati, Copybot, Teledildonics, and lots more besides.

For future reference, I’m always happy to proof-read any copy that authors are thinking of writing about IBM in virtual worlds. 🙂

6 thoughts on “The Unofficial Tourists’ Guide to Second Life – factcheck

  1. Hi Roo,

    Thanks for taking the time to read the book. I’m sorry that some errors crept in. No excuse, of course, but the nature of the material meant that we were working to a freakishly tight deadline. We tried to check everything absolutely thoroughly, but I guess the odd thing slipped through.


    ‘Edward’ Palmisano: D’oh! That one’s pretty unforgivable. Will make sure it’s fixed in any future editions.

    Hursley Island: yep, we wrote that part prior to the island coming out in the open. I’m afraid that one’s down to publishing lead times.

    IBM Employees Worldwide: Yes, sorry, should have made it much clearer that it was an unofficial group.

    Home of Roo Reynolds: that one’s down to me. I know it’s not just your blog, but because I was introduced to it through your contributions, I always think of it as yours. But yes, I should have made it clearer. Sorry, sorry – will update to give Ian full credit in future editions.

    Hope you enjoy the rest of the book. Obviously, the intended audience is the complete newbie – and hopefully it will encourage a few more people to give SL a try. But obviously, being aimed at newbies gives us arguably more of a duty to be absolutely accurate as they’re less likely to know when they’re being unintentionally misled.

    Thanks again for taking the time to look through the book. We may well take you up on that offer of proof reading for the next edition!



  2. Good afternoon,

    We’re running a video advertising campaign for a well-known drinks brand and would be interested in buying some advertising or advertorial space on your blog. Sorry- couldn’t see where to get in touch (the email address does not work)

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    Yvonne Smeets

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