Community Member Profiles: Jackson Soderstrom/Dan Michel

Jackson Soderstrom
Dan Michel…

Goal for Second Life:
Increase awareness of hunger in America and our org, raise money and build a community both in RL and SL for the issue

Benefits to Organization
SL provides another avenue to build that hunger community and being in the beginning stages of nonprofit involvement in SL not only will we see immediate benefits but we will discover benefits as we and SL evolve (similar to when the internet first boomed)

Advice for Getting Started:
Dive in, try it out – again like the internet, you can stumble and pick yourself up learning from your stumble. one more thing on advice – take one step at a time. SL is huge and no need to conquer every goal at once

Written by: kanter

An Invitation to Participate. Survey: Engagement of Second Life by Educational Institutions

An Invitation to Participate. Survey: Engagement of Second Life by Educational Institutions

All educational professionals currently using Second Life are invited to participate in a survey: Engagement of Second Life by Educational Institutions. The purpose of the survey is to identify and describe the extent to which educational organizations are engaging Second Life at an institutional level.

An increasing number of educators, at all levels of the industry, are using Second Life for instructional purposes, and a tremendous number of institutions reportedly are engaging Second Life. However, no information exists describing the nature and extent of institutional engagement. To what extent are institutions, in which educators are using Second Life, engaging the technology at an organizational level as indicated by: development or revision of policies and guidelines; engagement strategic, organizational planning; commitment of financial and personnel resources; establishment of quality standards; implementation of student and faculty support and training programs, and deployment of an institutional Second Life Campus.
If you have any questions regarding the survey, please contact Chris Duke at chris (at) muveforward (dot) com or via Second Life as Topher Zwiers.

Written by: kanter

Virtual Worlds: The future or a fad?

Back in December after Clay Shirky’s piece on Second Life, Stan who writes the PacificRim Exchange Blog took out his "I’m Sticking With DOS" buttons from the attic to make some points — maybe something about keeping an eye on the future horizon.

Allan Benamer has written a post called Why Project Agape’s Cause Is Better Than Second Life.  I think the title should have been more aptly "Why Project Agape’s Cause Is Better ROI for Fundraising Than Second Life in 2007!"   Nicole Wallace’s frames the post with these e questions:

What do you think? Is Second Life a passing fad, or is it something
savvy nonprofit groups should be watching and participating in?

Now this should set the stage for an interesting debate!

Ruby Sinreich notes in the comments, it isn’t an either/or:

"It’s not like we have to choose either/or! Second Life is great for enabling rich learning experiences, creative expression, and complex interpersonal interactions."

Susan Tenby writes in the comments about the special qualities of Second Life:

There are few places where the security issues and the individual time of a member are rendered less significant. The boundaries of SL allow you to have access to many whom you wouldn’t be able to meet with in the real world (for example,business executives, celebrities and those in remote locations). It also allows you to create experiences that the
two-dimensional web would never be able to produce (for example, walking through a human heart or experiencing schizophrenia as if you were the schizophrenic.) As soon as we have web directly enabled on Second Life (or whatever other virtual world takes it place), you will be able to have a seamless experience between your satellite office and your web documents.

It comes down to understanding what is the best tool/strategy to
reach an organization’s outcomes and having an eye on what is on the horizon and what is being learned today

My feeling is that although we’re still in the early
phases of virtual worlds, we shouldn’t ignore it or label is a passing fad.  As such not all nonprofits organizations should be investing heavily in resources to implement a fund raising campaign in Second Life.  As Allan points out,
there is a steeper learning curve and will require more resources to go to scale than say a Facebook profile. 

But, what about education programs?  What about the networking opportunities?

If I were a development person, I’d certainly want to get on avatar and get the chance to
chat with Mr. Fanton directly about the foundation’s funding interests, find out what they learning about virtual worlds and philanthropy.  If my nonprofit’s programs were geared for young people, I’d want to learn from first hand experience what opportunities virtual worlds present for my organization and its programs.  Exploring a tool with a low risk experiment to
see if it is the right fit is not a waste of resources. Having knee
jerk reactions – whether to immediately reject or immediately jump in
with full scale implementation – is.

In a strange coincidence, I received an email from Jackie Marsh, a UK-based researcher looking at social media and early childhood, telling me about her blog, Digital Beginnings.  (We discovered each other via a post I wrote called "Mommy, what’s a blog?" which was my attempt to explain blogging to my pre-K aged son, Harry.)   GenWe, today’s kids, are a glimpse into the future.   And, it isn’t just social networking sites they’re using, today’s young people are exploring and using virtual worlds.   So, are virtual worlds a fad or is it showing us what is to come.

Written by: kanter

Virtual Worlds Are Platforms for Good!

I wanted to highlight a couple of observations that Lucy Bernholz makes in her analysis of yesterday’s discussion about philanthropy in Second Life by the MacArthur Foundation.   She points out why this was such a groundbreaking event and suggests a compelling new metaphor for philanthropy:

Imagine if philanthropy sought to be an "empowering platform for individuals (and organizations) to make change."

to really be a platform for individuals, where the participants decide how to do things, where the successful organizations are only those that help residents succeed, where feedback loops are tight, fast, and respected – these are new ways for philanthropic institutions to act. A good start, a conversation with anyone who could get there, was made today. I hope the Foundation and its partners are successful in achieving their goals: listening to new voices, providing means for isolated groups to get together, offering support for creative solutions "in world" that might transfer to "real life." The conversation started – lets hope (and help) it continues.

What is interesting to me about this concept of a platform for change that is very different from say – campaigns on social networking sites like Facebook or the use of widgets and charity badges on blogs for personal fundraising campaigns — is that while Virtual Worlds are empowering individuals — we are empowering collective action. 

Here’s an update on the  round up of coverage:

Written by: kanter

MacArthur Foundation Event Live Blog Post

I just came from an historic and ground breaking event.  I don’t know if I’m still shaking from the excitement or the hour long multi-tasking frenzy of listening to a live audio feed, seeing a stream, reading a chat history, answering ims, and taking notes!

The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation hosted its first discussion in Second Life to explore the role that philanthropy might play in virtual worlds.    For context, see the event announcement and today’s New York Times article.    Jonathan Fanton, above next  to my Second Life avatar,  engaged in a discussion with Philip Rosedale (Linden) of Linden labs about the role of civil society in virtual worlds and answered questions from the more than 200 avatars that packed the space. (although there was a little bit lag, there was not a major crash and the audio feed was perfect – kudos! to the USC folks)

MacArthur hopes to gain insight into how virtual worlds are used by young people, to introduce the foundation to an audience that may have little exposure to institutional philanthropy and to take part in and stimulate discussions about the real-world issues that it seeks to address. 

Here’s a quick summary of my notes:

In Fanton’s welcome, he noted that it is easy to get caught up in the novelty and hype of virtual worlds, but whatever the complexities, "we think they will grow and become integrated into our daily lives."   He said that MacArthur hopes to make investments to help nonprofits and civil society organizations address serious issues.  They hope to reach out to residents and spark conversations about philanthropic work and to give advice and assistance to residents who want to advance charitable causes.

The discussion started with Fanton and Linden asking questions of each other. 

Fanton:  "Our first instinct was to create an island and a replica of our office building in Chicago and announce ourselves. We got advice not to do that.  We’re trying a year of conversation about how to enter the culture in Second Life and the role of philanthropy.  What’s your advice?"

Linden:   Second Life is a world being built by the people in it. Faster than real world.  A place where individuals are empowered to use relationships and tools to build the world.  What I’m seeing – companies and organizations that come in and are successful are those that are able to contribute something to the world itself.  Something to make the virtual world better and empowering the community in a unique way.

That’s what we are about in the physical world.  Foundations don’t do it directly but via nonprofits.  If you think about what a foundation has to offer, money for sure, we’re also good at convening people.  We’re good at connecting and giving advice.  I can imagine a counseling service for young people who are interested in internships.    We could make the introduction.  We hope that when we enter Second life we can connect and empower.

I’ve been reading recently about newspapers and articles that aren’t entirely positive.  Can you talk about security and pornography issues?

You mentioned pornography.  Open spaces like the Internet are always going to be about empowerment and you need to have tolerance.  I don’t see a way of fixing and I don’t want to fix it.  We as the stewards of
this new medium, we should not control people’s choices.   Second Life can be the aggregate of public good – we’ll give people the tools what they want to see or not see but not control what people see.

There were some excellent questions from the audience of over 200 gathered in the space.

Here’s a few:

Question:  What role do you see MacArthur in building credible information?

Fanton:  MacArthur is a knowledge network. We know who is doing the best research.  We have to do due diligence in grant making, so we know who to trust.     We are a resource bank for people in Second Life who want to know where to get credible information.

Linden:  Second Life is building systems for reputation and trust and can go beyond what you can do in the Real World. 

Question:  What charitable organizations have been successful in Second Life?

Linden gives the example of American Cancer Society.

Closing by Fanton was inspirational:

As MacArthur begins is journey into Second Life, we begin with some assumptions.   We assume that people in Second Life are people who care about others and who are open to most communicating across boundaries – both cultural and geographic.   People in Second Life have optimism about what can happen and feel a strong desire to come together and work.   We hope that together to make the virtual and physical worlds better. MacArthur believes that people who care and have the right information will do the right thing.  We have a role to play to work with those of you in Second Life to figure appropriate policy and approaches.  How can MacArthur harness the idealism that exists in Second Life?

Rik Riel asked an excellent question and I’m quoting from his notes:

I got to ask Mr Fanton the following question: With a few
exceptions, the philanthropic world has not been very good about
incorporating Web 2.0 tech into their giving practices. What hope do
you have that virtual worlds will be reacted to any differently?

He somewhat dodged the answer, saying that MacArthur wanted to learn
how to work with virtual worlds, to convene people and to bring virtual
projects into making real world change.

Here’s a round up of coverage:

Written by: kanter

Community Member Profiles: Xin Revolution/Michael Langford

Xin Revolution
Michael Langford

Why is your organization in Second Life?

We’re exporing the use of Second Life as part of our larger strategy for social networking and community building

What would you recommend that npos in sl check out?
Other non-profits should check out, obvioulsy, the non profit commons space, but also The Bay and Better World Island and Ubuntu. Also Angela Eclipse’s Take Action! shop

What advice to get started?

Ask for help, even if you have technology resources… SL is a microcosm of the real world and takes a good bit of effort to live in. Many tools are already available to help, the trick is finding them.

Written by: kanter

MacArthur Foundation: Virtual World Event on philanthropy on June 22nd

MacArthur Foundation President Jonathan Fanton

On June 22nd at 9:00 AM PST,  Jonathan’s avatar along with Second Life CEO Philip Rosedale  will lead a discussion with residents on the role of philanthropy in virtual worlds.

I believe that the importance of virtual worlds may be less about their growth as economies, and more about their capacity for collaboration and human development.  Activities in virtual worlds
already are supported by MacArthur and other foundations, but we have much to discover about the right role for philanthropy itself in virtual worlds.

We are interested in learning about virtual worlds and how to operate within them.  We look to the residents to help us determine how to be helpful and are eager to share our on-going work in such areas as affordable housing, urban renewal, and human rights and international justice.

The details are here.  There will be a live audio feed.

It will be interesting to see if Fanton’s avatar looks just like him or something different.

Photo Source: MacArthur Foundation Spotlight Blog

Written by: kanter

Who’s Who in Virtual Worlds

Who’s Who in Virtual Worlds! Find expertise, share expertise, meet others who are interested and working in virtual worlds, share ideas, make friends! This is a social network for colleagues working in a variety of virtual worlds to meet others and share experiences. Invite your friends and colleagues. Check it out.

Written by: kanter

Personal Fundraising in Second Life: Yonder Doesburg Raises Money for Make A Wish

Make A Wish Donation Box in Second Life

On the Web, you can become a messenger for your cause by adding a charity badge or fundraising widget to your blog or web site.  With one click, visitors can contribute dollars to your cause!  In Second Life, you can build a 3-D display and donation box where avatars can contribute Linden dollars.     That’s my avatar sitting on top of the donation box (it spins!) after making a contribution to Make A Wish.  

I was curious because this effort was not put together by the nonprofit organization, but by an individual, “Yonder Doesburg,” who decided to raise money in this virtual world for his favorite charity.   He shared a lot about what works with fundraising in Second Life.  Although the amounts raised in Linden Dollars sound impressive, the USD amounts are still modest.   But, avatars who raising money in Second Life for their causes are also spreading the word to others.

I caught up with him to learn more about his efforts:

Why are you raising money for Make A Wish Foundation?

In real life I have two nephews who both have Muscular Dystrophy or MD. MD has ruined their bodies and neither of them can walk. They live in their wheel chairs and can not get around with out them. They are 15 and 13 years old and will not likely live to 20 years old. The oldest one is very bitter. He has become anti-social and hates the world for his disease. He is fully aware of his impending death, and has a very difficult time dealing with it. It has caused a great strain on their family and those close to them. A couple years ago the Make A Wish Foundation granted their wishes and sent them with their family to Disney World. It was the highlight of their lives. For a week the boys were able to forget about their problems and enjoy life.

My motivation for collecting Lindens in Second Life is to help grant other children their wishes.

How did you get started?

I contribute to this charity in real life too.  I donate money every month through the Combined Federal Campaign. My brother in-law (the boy’s father) has an account in SL and together we designed the Make A Wish donation boxes and set up the first donation site in 2006.

In January, 2006, we had purchased some land and were playing around with ideas for what to build and make. We did the typical thing most folks do like throw up houses and trees and try out our building skills.  Often when we were on SL together, we would talk about his sons and the help many people and charities had given to them. In the past they have received a wheel chair van at a discount and the boys have attended summer camps with other kids with MD. The trip the boys enjoyed the most was the trip to Disney World.

These stories got to me, I get choked up easily, and it stays with me for a while. I had a tip jar in my avatar’s inventory, and thought it would be a great way to raise money for the Make A Wish Foundation. We put it together and built a small kiosk to place it in.

Tell me about your fundraising strategies in Second Life?

It has been pretty basic.  At first I bought small affordable plot of land and placed my Donation Cubes on them. I also purchased other plots that were selling for inexpensively and then resell them and put the proceeds towards my monthly donations to Make A Wish. These early efforts didn’t net as much as my main kiosk, but I managed to sell a couple plots and raise money for the charity.

My best collections have come from placing my Donation Cubes in the same location as the vendors I use to sell my built items. In the past I would rent stalls at popular malls or shops and place the cubes prominently in front of my vendors.  These did well for while, but would soon decrease. I think because many of the same patrons visited the same shops and I rarely received repeat donations.

I sold all my land at one point when I moved to Alaska. When I bought my new land, I decided to have only one location with a much larger Kiosk and more information about the Make A Wish Foundation. I advertise the land with a few key words.
Currently I have two locations to collect donations in Second Life. In the Sim of Iris, where I have my Make A Wish site, and in the sim of Paradise Isles. A friend of mine, Tabatha Binder, is an enthusiastic supporter of the Make A Wish Foundation and has one of my Donation Cubes in the center of her Palms Park Mall.

How much did you raise last year?

Donations for Make A Wish came to L$ 41,356 in 2006 or close to $200 USD.  I watched the exchanged rate and exchanged my Lindens for real dollars when the rate was good.
When I forward the donation money to Make a Wish,  I use my avatars name as the donor and in the comments/message place I type “From the generous citizens of Second Life”.
I gladly accept any and all donations from people while they are in Second Life. In the real world people should visit to make donations or see how they can help.

Written by: kanter