Review : Hello world - Hello, world
TravelsinvirtualityLike the virtual realm that Sue Thomas explores in Hello World, this book is a shifting, multifaceted thing. It is entertainment, it is education, it is experiment, it is collaboration, and it is a journal. Some of these things are successful, but others are not. And so I shall follow Thomas's lead in the book and splinter this review into three sections. Each shard will address a major component of the work, beginning with those that succeed most fully, and ending, reluctantly, with those that fail.
Hello World is a memoir and travelogue, a memoir of "a life online." As such, Hello World is fascinating, almost hypnotic. Thomas travels all over the physical world, and all over the virtual world, visiting sights and sites of intrinsic and historical interest. She describes what she sees, tells us how the experience affects her, and recounts how past travelers have marked these conceptual landscapes. Thomas invokes Thoreau throughout the book, and the comparison is apt: As Thoreau's observations of the activity around Walden Pond always told us as much about him as they did about the nature he studied, so, too, Thomas's observations reveal much about herself. The intensity of her love for cyberspace is manifest in her attentiveness to the detail of each virtual experience.
The review is generally positive but at the end I am criticised for ignoring
...other fairly recent works of cyberculture, such as Marie-Laure Ryan's 2001 book Narrative as Virtual Reality, which analyzes virtual reality and reading, or theorists like William Mitchell or Stephen Graham, who discuss the implications our embrace of cyberspace has on the material world. Most directly, Thomas's work overlooks previous work from people like Ken Hillis...
and he ends by saying:
Hello World is a fascinating artifact of digerati culture, although it is not a very critical text....full text
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