NICK 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.
One-line one-to-many messaging service Twitter is aflame during the South by Southwest Interactive conference. The techies, bloggers, and various citezenry-of-media are pumping the service with constant web, IM and SMS messages. Twitter staffers Jack and Alex tell me that the site, which normally carries around 20 thousand messages a day, broke 60 thousand a day this weekend. This traffic boost should add a strong layer of new permanent users. In the next year, Twitter could make a Facebook-sized blowup among the general public.