Monday, March 28, 2005


Bringing Cory Doctorow back in-world-- and bringing his new book with him.

What began as an online book club has evolved into a kind of virtual Gutenberg project. Somewhere between early and mid July, famed Boing Boing blogger and award-winning science fiction writer Cory Doctorow will be re-appearing in Second Life in avatar form, to discuss his new novel, Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town. Cory did Second Life's first in-world Book Club almost two years ago, and it was a massive success, with some 120 Residents jammed into the auditorium. This time, Cory very generously offered to send me a ASCII version of Someone Comes to Town, so that, after it hits the stands in physical form, the novel can also be read by Residents in-world.

However, I didn't want this version to be just a very long text file on a notecard, so I challenged Residents to come up with a way to turn Cory's entire 320 page tome into an actual, three-dimensional book in-world-- a book with text transposed to a readable typefont, on 3D pages that you can actually turn, in a physical form you can set down and open in front of your avatar. I suspected something like that was feasible, because variations of such books already exist-- Trent Hedges' SL Graphica, for example, is an in-world magazine with text and illustrations, and pages that flip, when you click them. (Thanks to Francis Chung's scripting skills.)

So for the next couple months, in preparation for Cory's appearance, Residents will be creating book prototypes, and submitting them to me for an in-world expo, so the community can choose which one provides the best in-world reading experience. Within 48 hours of the announcement, one Resident had already submitted a screenshot of his own prototype (bottom screenshot), which sharp-eyed readers will recognize as the opening page to Doctorow's Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, the novel he discussed with Residents at the first Book Club. The one to win the most votes at the Expo will get the honor of publishing Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town in Second Life. (Though of course, my personal hope is that this also helps launch a mini-explosion of virtual book technology in-world.)

More details on the appearancel of Doctorow and his book as we enter Summer...

UPDATE, May 16: First prototype described here.

Posted at 03:41 PM | Permalink


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Hey Hamlet, that's exciting, I'm looking forward to this book.

But since Cory is so so liberated copyright wise, can't we all have the honour of publishing Someone Comes... in SL?

Posted by: Alfa Rubio at Mar 28, 2005 9:18:17 PM

this app broke my comment - supposed to say: '' 'listen in to (insert some lame-ass podcast here) as Cory talks about the immorality of digital rights management''

Posted by: Brian at Mar 29, 2005 9:06:19 AM

Whatever it was, it's gone now. No personal attacks are allowed here.

Posted by: Hamlet Linden at Mar 29, 2005 11:11:36 AM

What exactly is the copyright status of what residents of Scond Life create out of his book? Can they be sold off-line or in-world? Is Cory granting a Creative Commons copyright here?

Posted by: Oliver Ennui at Jun 15, 2005 9:57:48 AM

Copies certainly can't be sold off-world, and the agreement is that they won't be sold in-world, either, but rather, given away to whoever wants to read 'em.

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