Monday, March 15, 2010


I had seen this book here and there, and it kept nagging at me. It seemed to me there was something very important in the idea of a book about authenticity -- and I'm glad I did buy it, too -- it proved to be a kind of linchpin for my Beyond Facebook talk. Anyway, I finally finished reading it. It has a lot of material in it, but for me the core idea is this -- at this point in time (circa 2010) Americans are craving authenticity like never before, because they are so cut off from reality, or as Gilmore and Pine put it so well, "cut off from self-sufficiency." The book contains a taxonomy of the authentic, as well as many examples of how to make your offerings seem more authentic (use earth tones, tap into nostalgia, etc.). Some of my favorite parts are about the confusing conflicts between the fake and real, which point out how reality and authenticity are a state of mind more than anything else.

Now - say I was going to go for a PhD -- if I were, I have a feeling that what I would try to do would be to show that the fifteen properties of living structures that Christopher Alexander puts forth are the keys to authenticity, for what seems more real than living structures?

Anyway, this was an eye-opening book for me, and really helped me understand some important things about my industry. I found much more benefit in the front than in the back, but others may see the book differently. If I ever do a second edition of The Art of Game Design, I will likely want to include a Lens of Authenticity.

PS - I'm pleased to say that Joe Pine sent me some info about his next book, and, well, it's insightful in whole new ways. I hope it comes out soon!

1 comment:

  1. Jesse - I really like the concept of incorporating authenticity into a service or product, as well as the idea that people are seeking the "real" in an increasingly virtual world.

    I found this blog after seeing the video of your speech at DICE, which frankly blew me away. First, because the rationale you detail in assessing the underlying psychology behind the success of Facebook games was the exact thought process that motivated me to quit my job in January and start a company to address a related opportunity.

    Second, because of the world you describe towards the end of the speech, and the extent to which you envision potential overlap between actual and augmented reality. It was an extension of the shorter-term vision we're currently focused on developing a service around.

    I'd appreciate the opportunity to speak with you about the service we're creating, and to get your feedback and advice on our approach. The company co-founder is a Carnegie Mellon grad if that helps :)

    Best regards,
    Bill Bing