Check out the run on banks in SecondLife and these posts on whats happening to the virtual economy. Apparently a 2L bank, Ginko Financial, promised accounts with 100% interest. When it couldn't come through (which, if it had, would have had an interesting inflationary impact), customers...er, avatars, lined up at ATMs to get their money out. All this happened around the same time a ban on in-world gambling went into effect and then there was a stock exchange robbery. (I am not making this up)
Wow. Real world financial collapse in virtual worlds. What does this mean for philanthropy in virtual worlds? The build up to this and its potential implications are discussed in this great article from Technology Review.
This will be fascinating to watch. I've commented (frequently) on the way private ventures flourished in SecondLife, well before either a public sector or an independent sector took hold
(hence one of the challenges/opportunities of trying to launch philanthropy in-world).
Will the response to all this be a call for regulating financial institutions (a public sector)? Will the avatars collectively organize to monitor and control financial institutions (independent sector)?
Its not just space we're playing with either - its time. Planning now for future historical study, the good folks at the Library of Congress are including virtual worlds in their digital preservation efforts. This means that events like this one now occurring in SecondLife,will be saved for the future, so historians in the real world can help us to look back and understand what happened. Or something like that.