Hello,

We noticed you're browsing in private or incognito mode.

To continue reading this article, please exit incognito mode or log in.

Not an Insider? Subscribe now for unlimited access to online articles.

A View from Erica Naone

Virtual Currency

Are Linden dollars real money?

  • August 8, 2007

Are the Linden dollars I discuss in my article on Second Life’s economy real money? Linden Lab itself seems confused by this question. The company has encouraged people to think of the Linden dollar as real money by running the Lindex (where Second Life residents can trade Linden dollars for U.S. dollars), and by including a section on its website about business opportunities in Second Life. But it also carefully avoids legal responsibility through the language in the company’s terms of service: “Second Life ‘currency’ is a limited license right available for purchase or free distribution at Linden Lab’s discretion, and is not redeemable for monetary value from Linden Lab.”

What I take from this is that Linden dollars are real money as long as Linden Labs allows them to be. For as long as they have an exchange rate with U.S. dollars, I can transform a virtual income into a real-life income. On the other hand, depending on Second Life for income is a risky illusion. Linden Lab’s terms of service notifies users that the company can pull the rug out from under a virtual savings account at any time. No virtual income is safe as long as it depends on the whim of a single company.

This no-man’s land – where money is real, but only as long as it is allowed to be real – is fascinating to me. I sometimes wonder if so-called real money is also a shared illusion – the difference being that real money is backed by governments rather than companies.

AI is here.
Own what happens next at EmTech Digital 2019.

Register now
Want more award-winning journalism? Subscribe to Insider Basic.
  • Insider Basic {! insider.prices.basic !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Six issues of our award winning print magazine, unlimited online access plus The Download with the top tech stories delivered daily to your inbox.

    See details+

    Print Magazine (6 bi-monthly issues)

    Unlimited online access including all articles, multimedia, and more

    The Download newsletter with top tech stories delivered daily to your inbox

/3
You've read of three free articles this month. for unlimited online access. You've read of three free articles this month. for unlimited online access. This is your last free article this month. for unlimited online access. You've read all your free articles this month. for unlimited online access. You've read of three free articles this month. for more, or for unlimited online access. for two more free articles, or for unlimited online access.