Today was a good day. I was the event producer for the successful public launch of MacArthur Island in Second Life, featuring a conversation between the avatars of Jonathan Fanton, President of the MacArthur Foundation, and Cory Ondrejka, co-founder of Second Life now at EMI. Over 150 avatars, plus another 20-some viewers of the live webcast, gathered to participate in this discussion on the future of virtual worlds and philanthropy.
Mr. Ondrejka and Mr. Fanton both spoke very well from their respective and unique positions as a virtual world visionary and a philanthropic pioneer. They described quite movingly the potential of these technologies to promote the public good, spur new kinds of collaborative action, and capture people’s imaginations towards a better future. And Connie Yowell of the MacArthur Foundation did a fantastic job moderating the discussion, fielding to Mr. Fanton and Mr. Ondrejka a wide range of questions from the virtual audience.
The whole event was quite the team effort, involving most of the Global Kids Online Leadership Program staff, several programmatic, communications and technical staff at the MacArthur Foundation, the virtual world video producers at Treet.tv, and master machinimatographer Draxtor Dupres. I’m extremely proud of the work that everyone did, and I think the success of the event is testament to the skills and dedication of everyone involved.
I also think that we were lucky.
Having done a few of these things now, I’ve learned that you have to hope for the best and be ready for the worst. With 150+ avatars in our two sims, they could have easily crashed either or both of those sims. Given the highly public nature of the event, we could have been griefed or particle attacked. Our audio stream could have failed or degraded anywhere between the speakers’ mics and the final outputted audio stream in Second Life. A hundred other compelling, competing virtual and real world events could have lured avatars away from our amphitheater.
All those things have happened to me at events that I have organized in the past. So we talked through and planned for the various contingencies of griefer attack, Skype failure, lack of audience, etc. Which proves the adage that it never rains when you bring your umbrella.
I'm so happy that everyone stepped up and performed in the clutch, particularly my colleagues Joyce, Tabitha, Barry, Krista, Amira, and Shawna. Go team!
Best comments from audience:
Wrigley Kidd: I'm not sure who the bear is….. just an average bear interested in philanthropy
globalkids Bixby: Please welcome Jonathan Fanton and Cory Ondrejka.
Grace McDunnough: (was secretly hoping to see the flying spaghetti monster)
Chimera Cosmos: Yes! MacArthur "gets it" better than any foundation!
Grace McDunnough: That was the fastest hour ever