Besides 3D avatars, one thing that intrigued me about Second Life was virtual money – and the ability to buy it and convert it back to real money. I guess this was one of the main reasons for the success of Second Life within the corporate world – after all, it was the first remarkable social network with a currency. Moreover, this is in my opinion, a great enabler for research on digital citizenship – risks, rights and (perhaps) duties – and the main interest point from my perspective.
Now Ning, a social networking platform which provides its users with the ability to create their own social network, introduces "credits" – fictional money that can be used within the system to buy virtual presents – for oneself or for other users, in the same way as it happens with the ubiquitous "gift" applications on Facebook. Except, as I said, the fact that gifts in Ning come with a virtual price.
As a brilliant example of this, The Brooklyn Art Project issues a collection of mini Virtual Art Gifts, which can be added to one's profile. As any respectable piece of art, BAP virtual art gifts are made available in limited quantities. I'm very curious about what users'creativity will create in this and in other spaces, but I guess that we won't see a massive virtual economy until Facebook introduces virtual money – and, based on the amount of problems it created to Second Life two years ago, I'm not so sure this will happen soon.
I've created a Ning space for this blog, with the only purpose of experimenting with ideas. If anybody is willing to give it a try (it's empty now) – you're welcome!