I think exploitation is relative term. All businesses exploit in some way or another, otherwise how would they make a profit? Especially with the sale of goods, what something costs to make and what it costs to purchase that same thing are never equal so someone must be spending more than the item is worth. In the Castranova article, the Norrath provides a seemingly different kind of economy, but can it really be that different? The main difference that I can see is that Earth money and virtual money blend together to form some sort of transformational economy. It isn’t really the same as using money between different countries but it can employ similar effects depending on what the exchange rate is. The portrayal of economy in this article looks at the innovation and social repercussions of an online society and the economy which it embodies. The freedoms it allows its users seem to outweigh the restrictions as many people spend more time in the online platform than online ones.
The Dibbell article was much more interesting to me and discussed a more applicable way of making money. I would never spend real money to have someone collect coins for me on a game like World of Warcraft but I can understand why someone would want to get paid for doing something like that. The portrayal of economy in this article shows how much money Li makes in coins, yuan, and dollars. For 100 gold coins, he makes $1.25, or 30 cents an hour. His boss makes $3 and the retailer makes $20. This type of economy can be understood though supply and demand, and a sort of digital wholesale type production. This phenomenon happens in the physical world so all that is being altered is that the first chain happens online. When something online is considered desirable and worth money, then it makes sense to sell it for profit. Just because it is not tangible physical product it does not mean it is not a commodity. After all, money has meant different things over the history of the world and in reality it’s just paper and coins that stands for very little actual worth.
The linden lab article as a business release really promotes IBM and Second Life more than it does anything else in my opinion. The fact that the ROI was $320,000 shows that big companies like IBM know how to make money (and save money) in pretty much every way possible. The article promotes the success of their annual meeting and the flawless execution, not to mention the money. It’s hard to say what was exploited here but we can be sure that Second Life and IBM certainly made multiple kinds of profit from this interaction.