I finished reading Second Life: The Official Guide last night. I am perhaps not a good guage of how good the book is, since I’ve already drunk the Linden kool-aid. That said, I found it to be an entertaining and informative read from cover to cover. My only real complaint is that it’s not longer.
I would have appreciated a bit more technical detail on scripting, animating, texture creation, and machinima making. However with the technology always in flux, perhaps they were worried about dating the book too quickly.
As a relative n00b, I appreciated the cultural timeline section (Chapter 12) as well as the profiles of prominent residents (Chapter 11). The "making money" chapter — which I’m sure is the first chapter many newbies turn to — I thought was refreshingly discouraging to would-be Ansche Chung’s. As one resident stove Lu is quoted as saying,
It is possible to make money in SL, but it’s like living in a poor country where the exchange rate to the dollar is terrible. The most I can make in a day is about L$1,000, or approx. US $3. I’d rather do a day’s work in real life and get paid £150.
I’m going to paste that in a notecard and hand it to any newbie who asks me how they can get rich in SL.
All in all, I’d highly recommend Second Life: The Official Guide for someone who is interested in virtual worlds or a relative newcomer to SL. It’s a breezy and witty fly-over of the choice things to do, see, and create in the ever-expanding digital realm. For an experienced resident or developer, there is very little here that you couldn’t find on the web or from experience in-world. But it is an attractive dead trees book that you might want to have handy when a friend or relative asks you what this Second Life thing is all about.