At the moment, I'm about a fourth of the way into My Tiny Life by Julian Dibbel. It's an exploration of community, both virtual and real, and contains the author's experiences inside a MUD, way back in the day.
While the book is interesting both for it's subject and its content, what I find most intriguing is the sense of nostalgia its bringing up in me.
Back in the day, I participated in one particular online chatroom/MUD/forum almost religiously. I would sign in first thing in the morning when I got to work and would hang out all day, checking in with things between calls at work and chats with co-workers and the like. Nothing too unusual.
But when I first moved overseas, the only internet access was a dial up and I would get charged long distance rates as well as phone time, sometimes resulting in phone bills of a hundred to two hundred dollars. So connecting to various cyber locales became something of a no-go.
Time moves on and I lost connection with all the virtual characters I knew online and then with most of the RL people behind them and I didn't worry about it to much.
A while back, I got introduced to Second Life and tried that out for a while. I enjoyed it, but my poor little laptop just does not have the power for sustained forays into the virtual. Not to mention that I got a little creeped out. Not by the people, what few I met were fun and interesting and worth talking to. No, I got creeped out by the emptiness. I got tired of flying around looking at all the cool stuff and never seeing anyone. It was just too weird.
But now, while reading this book, I find the urge to go back. And, in all honesty, I've kept my SL account on the off chance that the place livens up, which I'm sure it will, given enough time.
So. Two thoughts: One, I'd be very curious to know if any of the few of you who read this blog travel through Second Life or World of Warcraft or an unlisted IRC channel or any other virtual place.
Two, if you have a chance, and if you've ever enjoyed one of the virtual spaces, give this book a read. You might be surprised by how much you enjoy it.