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Virtual Insanity

Could the virtual world get any wackier? Second Life, the online community seen as a pioneer in next-generation social networking, has clamped down on unregulated banks operating within its virtual realm.

A report today in the Financial Times reveals that Linden Lab, which operates Second Life, has tightened up its "in-world" financial regulations after a run of defaults by banking institutions offering interest rates unobtainable in the real world.

With around 12 million registered users, Second Life is clearly much more than some geeky nirvana where nerds act out their fantasies. It's being used as a business tool.

More and more corporations, particularly in the storage sector, are now exploiting Second Life as a way to network, recruit, and even market their products. In 2006, for example, IBM used Second Life to a host a "town hall" meeting in Beijing, and Big Blue makes extensive use of the platform for internal meetings.

It gets freakier: EMC has hosted virtual job fairs within Second Life and Sun opened an "in-world" pavilion for its technology a little over a year ago.

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