Coming of Age in Second Life: An Anthropologist Explores the Virtually Human
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Coming of Age in Second Life: An Anthropologist Explores the Virtually Human

3.53 of 5 stars 3.53  ·  rating details  ·  189 ratings  ·  18 reviews
Millions of people around the world today spend portions of their lives in online virtual worlds. Second Life is one of the largest of these virtual worlds. The residents of Second Life create communities, buy property and build homes, go to concerts, meet in bars, attend weddings and religious services, buy and sell virtual goods and services, find friendship, fall in lov...more
ebook, 336 pages
Published May 14th 2014 by Princeton University Press (first published April 21st 2008)
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Tom Boellstorff's Coming of Age in Second Life intrigued me the very moment I picked up the text. Boellstoff's uses a clear and informative tone to describe and explore the virtual human. The text is easily digestible for anyone interested in learning more about virtual life. Through his knowledge and charismatic voice, he takes the reader with him on his journey from the beginning in a true Coming of Age fashion.

While he claims multiple times to be unbiased and an anthropologist observing the...more
Shonell Bacon
It's rare that someone takes what is deemed an academic book to bed as her nightly reading, but Boellstorff has a voice and writing style that is fit for a number of readers--from the academic to the lay person wanting to know more about virtual worlds. It's the kind of voice and style that I'm interested in and that I hope to have in my own academic works. Anyone who is a fan of virtual worlds and Second Life specifically will enjoy the in-depth descriptions that are available in this work, fro...more
Before I read Boellstorff, I registered for Second Life and spent a few hours in the last week just to see what it was about. I remain absolutely clueless. I'm trying to imagine what real life circumstances would attract me to spending any significant amount of time in this world, and I suppose I can think of a few. If I were confined to a bed, socially isolated, or stuck in a truly miserable job with plenty of free time at my desk, or if I wanted to have a virtual affair, I suppose Second Life...more
Olea Morris
Really good! Using it as the basis for my final paper for a graduate seminar on anthropological theory. Kind of a "methodological experiment" to see if the ethnographic method applies to virtual worlds -- have a feeling that this is sort of where anthropology is going to go in the future with the intensification of social media and other virtual worlds
In his book Coming of Age in Second Life, Tom Boellstorff makes a statement that he wants to treat Second Life as a virtual world “in its own terms.” His rationale for this is that “there do exist distinct cultures in virtual worlds, even though they draw from actual-world cultures” (18). I find his approach towards virtual worlds not only provocative but also strategic. While it presents a fresh perspective in observing new media culture, it also aptly serves his purpose to map Second Life cult...more
I continue to broaden my reading in internet studies. This is an ethnography by a Professor of Anthropology who spent two years in second life during its early years. He uses traditional ethnographic tools as he explores this "thriving alternative universe" which is as meaningful to its natives as the "real world".

I know from my own experiences with early online community (Lambda Moo) that Boellstorff does not deeply delve into the social life of participants. He notes many times in his prose th...more
This is a bizarre book, not for its subject matter but for the degree to which Boellstorff seems intent on reproducing Margaret Mead's approach to Samoa--treating Second Life as a bounded cultural isolate, worthy of understanding in its own terms. Given that the man's partner, Bill Maurer has presided over the death of language, this sort of almost positivist unreconstructed Boasianism is not a little surprising--maybe they have a Jack Spratt and spouse thing going on when it comes to high-flown...more
Argues that virtual worlds are not just representations or simulations of the "real" world, but have cultures in and of themselves. Moreover, these cultures have stratifications, patterns, and meanings that have been documented in by anthropologists since time immemorial -- complete with citations of books written in the late 1800s. All this is true, and the book is packed dense with references but it feels more like riffing than an argument. It makes gestures at topics like gender, class, etc,...more
margot lane
Though Boellstorff adamantly tries to keep anthropology as a serious thread throughout this book, he does a terrible job of keeping to current and actual methodological anthropology research. Though an interesting argument and topic, he seems to forget his anthropological perspective in turn producing what is essentially an interesting albeit thoroughly engrossed advertisement for Second Life and virtual worlds. Just okay. No true ethnography here though...
I can't speak to this book's significance within the field of anthropology or its methodological soundness, but it serves as a well-informed and well-written introduction to Second Life for a non-participant such as myself. The references back to classics of ethnographic research are charming, and the bibliography is truly excellent. This book also does nothing to dispel my impression that Second Life manages to be simultaneously boring and creepy.
Interesting study of the author's experiences in Second Life. He did spend quite a bit of time in-world to do the research for this book, and so this digs under the surface appearances of the "typical" virtual-world denizen. He describes some interesting new themes which are specific to virtual worlds.
Darya Conmigo
I enjoyed reading this ethnography a lot! It is written in a rather accessible way while still offering a fair amount of theorizing on the subject of virtual worlds and anthropology's role in studying them.
Meriterebbe di essere tradotto in italiano. Tom -attraverso Second LIfe- costruisce un quadro interpretativo fantastico per capire come ci comportiamo in rete, anche (e soprattutto) fuori da Second Life.
Beth O'Connell
Excellent look at the overall culture of Second Life. I'd like to find something similar where the fieldwork was done after 2009, when SL's numbers started to drop.
I'm half way through this book and it is fascinating. I love Tom's Indonesia work--he is one of my favorite anthropologists out there right now.
so many times I have thought ... "hey .. that's me !!!" :))
Mina Lavender
Beautiful, but sadly out of date.
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