Friday, June 22, 2007

MacArthur Foundation to push the possibilities of Second Life

It's hard to tell from this picture but about 200 people packed a sim to hear MacArthur Foundation President, Jonathan Fanton, and Founder and CEO of Linden Lab (makers of Second Life), Philip Rosedale launch MacArthur's experiment to use a virtual world to help create a better real world.

The discussion came across as quite groundbreaking with these two from quite different backgrounds recognizing the potential of working together and introducing a major philanthropic effort in a expanding virtual platform. It was especially encouraging to hear Philip quoting Pierre Omidyar and referencing Muhammad Yunus in describing how SL is transparent environment that empowers individuals.

Over at, we've talked a lot about the possibilities of non-profit efforts in SL. Despite the great success of Relay for Life, the population of Second Life may be still too small for most efforts to efficiently raise funds or recruit from the existing population.

I think non-profits efforts can get the most benefit from SL by using it to create virtual conferences and ongoing meetings so that people around the world who are already interested in a effort can connect, exchange information and work on real-world tasks together.

This morning about 25 people from around the world - primarily speaking French along with some English and Spanish - met at the Camp Darfur exhibit in Better World Island to organize anti-genocide efforts.

Jonathan Fanton suggested the possibility of supporting the use of SL to lobby the US to join the International Criminal Court. This might be a great test case to see how SL could be used as an organizing tool - connecting international members with those in the US and connecting organizers within all 50 states to coordinate their efforts to recruit members in the real world and activate them to put pressure on their representatives.

(Disclosure: my employer Omidyar Network, is an investor in Linden Lab - and as a former employee I own stock options.)

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