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Exploring and Building
Virtual Worlds on the Internet

Bibliography of Recommended Reading

This bibliography includes both fictional and non-fictional references for the student of virtual worlds. It is quite a varied selection, providing a kind of primer reading list. As there are precious few books about avatars (the one you are holding is one of the very first) the references listed below deal with general issues about life in cyberspace and our relationship with our own identity. The books listed below are written for a wide audience and will not scare you off with nerdy acronyms or programming languages. For your further investigation I have provided web page URLs where you can find out more about the books and their authors.

There is a much more extensive bibliography listed on the companion Web site to this book, at: It is part of the Advanced Course at Avatar University and is also listed on its own. I will be updating the book Web site (and hopefully writing more books) to assist you as you get deeper into your study of this exciting new medium of human contact.

Short Bibliography of General Reading

Benedikt, Michael, ed. Cyberspace: First Steps. (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1991). The seminal classic work on the structure of Cyberspace and the societies that could emerge within it. No traveler in digital realms should go forth without this one.

Gibson, William: Neuromancer (New York NY: Ace Books, 1984) ISBN: 0-441-56959-5
Almost ten years before Snow Crash, Neuromancer was the original avatar drama, kind of like the Old Testament for us converts. Note that William Gibson wrote this classic on a manual typewriter, having little personal experience with computers, so it is a pure creation of his imagination, unsullied by the limitations of working systems.
Step into the light at William Gibson's yardshow at: and visit an unofficial but very useful homepage at:

Haraway, Donna:A Manifesto for Cyborgs: Science, Technology and Socialist Feminism in the 1980's in Feminism/Postmodernism Linda Nicholson, Ed., (New York 1990, Routledge), pp. 190-233. Gives you a modern interpretation of why we all are becoming cyborgs. Also see Jenny Cool's essay on it at:

Lem, Stanislaw: Mortal Engines (New York NY: First Harvest/HBJ, 1992). ISBN:0-15-662161-4
Want to know what artificial intelligences and "bots" might be like in a future Avatar Cyberspace? Polish writer Stanislaw Lem wrote some of the best science fiction on this theme.

Levy, Steven: Artificial Life (New York NY: Pantheon, 1992). ISBN: 0-679-40774-X
What will happen when life gets into Avatar Cyberspace? What will you think when you come to find your beautiful home on the digital range overgrown by a virtual form of kudzu? Avatar worlds may be the best place for digital biota to evolve. Steven Levy will give you a very interesting history of the artificial live movement and its pioneers.
Visit Steven Levy at his home page at:

McCloud, Scott: Understanding Comics (New York NY: HarperCollins, 1993). ISBN: 0-06-097625-X
The toons can tell us a lot about how to make avatars and their worlds. Scott McCloud will open your eyes to the power of toons to express ourselves in Cyberspace.
See the many faces of Scott McCloud at: and an interview on the digital future of comics at:

McLuhan, Marshall, Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man. (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1964). The original cyber-cultural thinker. Find Part I, Chapters 1-6 on the web at:

Negroponte, Nicholas: being digital (New York: Knopf, 1995). ISBN: 0-679-43919-6
As the director of the MIT Media Laboratory, Dr. Negroponte has a first hand look at where the digital revolution is taking us. Will we wear digital clothing, will Cyberspace emerge from our computers to surround us? Dr. Negroponte will open your mind to these questions. With avatars, you might also say: hey, I am being digital, but what about my digital being?
Tour the MIT Media Lab at:

Nisker, Wes "Scoop": Crazy Wisdom (Berkeley: Ten Speed Press, 1990). ISBN: 0-89815-350-6
Scoop Nisker can answer your question: "how do I behave in avatar cyberspace?" with some pretty crazy wisdom. It is, after all, a crazy place, somewhere between a dream and a hallucination. Good advice from Nisker might be to not take yourself so seriously during your digital and personal brief allotment of time on this planet.

Pearce, Celia, The Interactive Book: A Guide to the Interactive Revolution (Indianapolis IN: McMillan Technical Publishing, 1997). An overview putting interactivity in historical and cultural context and tracing the history of interactive multimedia and design principles from the author's experience over the past 14 years.

Pesce, Mark: VRML, Browsing and Building Cyberspace (Indianapolis IN: New Riders, 1995).
Read how the original visionary and co-creator of VRML, the Virtual Reality Modeling Language, sees his invention being used to create a planetary management system. Enter the world of VRML through the fascinating mind of Mark Pesce.
Visit Mark Pesce Home Page at:
Read Mark's regular columns at:

Powers, Michael, How to Program Virtual Communities, Attract New Web Visitors and Get Them to Stay (New York: Ziff-Davis Press, ISBN: 1562765221)
A superb guide to building and running virtual communities, covers everything from text-based MUDs 2D chat environments and virtual worlds. Gives you what you need to start building virtual communities, structuring their activities, and managing their resultant societies and economies. His book also contains a good history of MUDs and early virtual community. Visit Michael's book companion Web page at:

Rheingold, Howard: The Virtual Community: Homesteading on the Electronic Frontier (New York NY: HarperPerennial, 1993)
The original source on virtual community. Howard Rheingold will take you on a tour of a wide range of virtual communities that came before the rise of Avatar Cyberspace. Look here for a definitive treatment of The WELL.
Experience Howard's brainstorms at and at Electric Minds home page at

Stephenson, Neal: Snow Crash (New York NY: Bantam Spectra, 1992) ISBN: 0-553-56261-4
The Bible of the avatar Cyberspace movement. If you haven't read it, you haven't seen the light, brother!
A compendium of Stephenson's online references can be found at:

Stoll, Clifford: Silicon Snake Oil (New York NY: Doubleday, 1995). ISBN: 0-385-41993-7
Getting scared about where all this is taking us? Worried that avataring will remove us even further out of our real neighborhoods and ruin our kid's social and learning skills. The grand poo-bah of Internet luddites Clifford Stoll will really give you something to think about!
See Town Hall's pages on Clifford Stoll at: and his own (!) very simple homepage at: http://www.OCF.Berkeley.EDU/~stoll/

Turkle, Sherry: Life on the Screen: Identity in the Age of the Internet (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1995). ISBN 0-684-80353-4
Professor Turkle has been studying and living life in virtual realms about as long as anyone. This very readable book complements her earlier work The Second Self. These books focus largely on MUDs, MOOs and other text-based communities but there is a great deal of relevance to Avatar Cyberspace.
Visit with Professor Turkle at:

More extensive bibliography of books, papers and articles

Find a much more extensive and constantly updated bibliography on the book companion Web site at:

© Copyright Bruce Damer, 1997-98, All rights reserved.