Why Gaia is the next MySpaceNICK DOUGLAS — The GigaOM blog yet again cuts through the bull, this time about online social networks, with a story extolling Gaia Online. The underhyped online site for kids and teens claims 300,000 daily unique visitors spending an average of two hours a day on the site. (Hitwise says MySpacers spend about 30 minutes each.) I spent at least that during some college days (shut up); it was an addicting forum. But it's now an immersive little world — it feels like playing Paper Mario — that rewards regular users with virtual money and accessories for their avatars. (Inflation turns long-time users into millionaires, though Gaia money can't be exchanged for real cash.) Gaia used these incentives to run a promotion for the film The Last Mimzy, getting over 10% of their users to participate. Those kinds of results beat MySpace's 50-cent-per-thousand banner ads and Second Life's microeconomy to hell. Of course, Gaia doesn't have to compete with these sites, since it's sufficiently different than both (halfway between, actually). It'd be hard to kill this company. A shame for would-be buyers that this growing company seems so self-sufficient.