Virtual Insanity

Strange goings on in cyberspace as Second Life gets tough on virtual banks

January 11, 2008

2 Min Read
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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.Second Life certainly overcomes the distance challenges that make doing business a hassle, although there is something eerie about a totally virtual world, particularly when there is nothing wrong with email, IM, and even the good old telephone.

I must confess that I have not yet created my 'avatar' and taken a stroll through Second Life, partly through fear that the virtual James will have an infinitely better lifestyle than the real one. How depressing would that be?

Brave new world of social networking or not, I am keeping my feet firmly in the physical world, at least for now.

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  • EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC)

  • IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM)

  • Linden Lab

  • Sun Microsystems Inc.0

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