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!