Launching a Year-Long Exploration: Philanthropy in Virtual Worlds
6.22.07 | Today we announce support to the USC Center on Public Diplomacy at the Annenberg School to begin a year-long exploration of the role of philanthropy in virtual worlds. During the coming 12 months, the Center on Public Diplomacy will support a series of discussions in virtual worlds about the concept of philanthropy, help us share what we and the organizations that we fund know and are doing in areas such as affordable housing preservation, community and economic development and urban policy, global conservation and human rights, and provide awards for in-world innovations.
With this blog post, and our launch event today, I would like to invite the philanthropic and virtual world communities to join us in these conversations and ongoing activities. As I mentioned in my post ten days ago, later this morning I will step into Second Life to host a wide-ranging discussion with Philip Rosedale on the role of philanthropy in virtual worlds. As many of you know, he is the founder and CEO of Second Life, the largest virtual world in existence. For MacArthur, what is noteworthy is not just the robust growth of virtual worlds, but also the potential of virtual worlds for social, cultural and political interaction and the exchange of knowledge. At the event later this morning, Philip and I will be present both as avatars and through live audio. Check the event information page for details.
At MacArthur, we are cautious about claims that technology can solve longstanding social problems. We recognize that it is easy to get caught up in awe and admiration of the new, especially something as novel as virtual worlds. As we investigate the possibilities of Second Life and other metaverses, we also will consider the inevitable unexpected outcomes and unintended consequences of virtual worlds.
When we first considered working in virtual worlds, we were tempted to build a replica of our historic foundation building, located in Chicago, in the virtual world. We now believe that the best way to start is to participate in the virtual world by engaging in discussions of serious social issues, working with others to act on their philanthropic impulses, and encouraging innovation and new ideas through grant awards. There is much to be learned as foundations develop strategies around the opportunities and consequences of engaging in virtual worlds. We invite you to join us in exploring how new technologies might be used to learn more about and address pressing social problems.
- Jonathan Fanton
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