So I’m finally in Chicago (after an excruciating 3 hour delay in Newark), gearing up for the 2007 Second Life Community Convention. The whole idea of a physical gathering of people who have only met via their digital representations is intriguing in itself. How do you react when confronted with the mundane corporality of someone who you have only known as a nine-foot tall purple dragon or a samurai robot?
My specific interest is how non-profits, educational institutions and foundations are learning to navigate in this space. Through the support of MacArthur Foundation and the leadership of Global Kids, a non-profit / philanthropy “thread” was added to the four main themes of the 2007 SLCC (social, business, machinima and education.) Representatives from various groups will be talking about how they are incorporating virtual worlds into their work as educators, activists, fundraisers and grantmakers.
Some questions I have going in in my head right now:
- What kinds of groups are the best placed to be “early adopters” of virtual worlds for their work? Which sectors — environment, human rights, peace, religion, service-oriented? What size organization –- national membership group, beltway thinktank, local community center?
- What kinds of non-profit activities are more easily translate to virtual environments? Education, fundraising, membership development, staff management, activism, coalition-building?
- What would meaningful philanthropic engagement look like? Where could grantmaking make a difference in the development of this new “virtual public sphere”?
I’m anticipating some interesting answers to these questions over the next couple of days. For now, off to bed…