Part social network and part 3D virtual world, Kaneva also throws in a dash of YouTube, with media sharing for pictures and Flash video. I received news of the service today, but Kaneva has been kicking about since late 2004. Essentially you begin with a standard social-network profile, then earn prestige points to work your way up a site leaderboard until you're invited to join the 3D social world, which launched its beta in April of last year.
Points are given as rewards for adding content to your profile and interacting with other Keneva members. Once you join the 3D world (which looks quite similar to The Sims and Second Life), you can hang out (virtually) with other Kaneva users and even interact with each other's shared media, which can be ported into the 3D world.
As a social networking site, Kaneva is very similar to MySpace, with preset profile themes akin to Trig (covered last month). It's got all the usual bells and whistles, with friend requests, comments, embeddable widgets, and interservice e-mail. What's a little creepy is how many friend requests and "raves" (basically personal Diggs) I got within mere hours of signing up with Kaneva. There are over 100,000 Kaneva users, and without having even a dab of content on my profile I had received 16 comments and a dozen friend requests--more than my Facebook profile has received in several weeks. Either people are madly attempting to spam new profiles to get invites to the 3D app, or there's just an active, friendly community. Based on the terseness of the rave comments, my guess is the former.
As for the 3D app itself, it's free (for now), Windows-only, and requires a fairly speedy processor with 3D acceleration. The combination of the virtual world with your real-life profile is interesting, but I can't help but think some people without capable PCs are going to feel a little left out just using the profile service.
Kaneva seems like a bold move, attempting to forge one community with what is essentially two completely different services, but people seem to be using it. Whether it will "turn" Second Life and MySpace users is questionable, but for now, blending the two services looks to be Kaneva's biggest draw.