Putting together some thoughts, on Steve Crosson's talk of Virtual Countries
And from reading on Tribe that social software networks are now getting large investments. (Though you have to join Tribe and the "Social Software Intellectuals" tribe to read it.)
What are the business models for social software networks? One thing that strikes me. Is it likely we'll see social software services becoming buyers' co-operatives or mutual societies? For example, could premium Tribe membership also buy Tribe members health insurance? Or might insurers and bulk-buyer clubs and building societies start using social networking software for their members? I'm sure the demographics of Tribe and Friendster etc. include lots of young and freelance professionals who need to buy these kind of things (unless we get decent socialist governments back) but who don't currently think of it. And who the insurance industry fails to reach.
On ThoughtStorms: VirtualWelfareState I'm taking this further. What about social network service as virtual state? With membership fees as a form of redistributive taxation?