|MacArthur Island Opens|
Text and Photos by VERDE OTAARED
On May 18th, 2009 MacArthur Island officially opened in Second Life. MacArthur Island was created to support the public good and offer residents an opportunity to learn more about projects funded by the MacArthur Foundation. On the island are interactive exhibits related to some of the broad issues that the foundation supports such as biodiversity, conservation, human rights and education.
The opening event was an open discussion between MacArthur Foundation President Jonathan Fanton and the former co-creator of Second Life, Cory Ondrejka (now at EMI Music). Initially Ondrejka and Fanton asked each other questions about the future of Second Life and virtual worlds in general and how they can be used for philanthropy. During the discussion Ondrejka said that we are still in the early stage of integrating 3D virtual environments with the vast amount of information on the web. He went on to state that virtual worlds offers a chance, better than any other technology we have to foster international collaboration and reach an engaged community at a significantly lower cost than in the real world. Virtual worlds allow you to use multiple forms of communication, chat, voice, image/text display, allows interaction and generates a feeling of place. Ondrejka went on to comment that since he has been going back to using video and teleconferencing for meetings he really misses having meetings in SL.
In the second part of the forum Ondrejka and Fanton answered questions from the audience; close to 140 avatars were present on the two sims during the event. One of the attendees asked "What needs to happen to engage people in virtual worlds?" Fanton said that the MacArthur Foundation supports about 1000 organizations all over the world and "we are encouraging all of the grantees to use technology of all kinds." He said that MacArthur grant administrators can provide additional funds to grantees help them use technologies like virtual worlds where appropriate.
The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation http://www.macfound.org/ "supports creative people and effective institutions committed to building a more just, verdant, and peaceful world." One of the largest foundations in the United States, the MacArthur Foundation's interests include the defense of human rights, conservation of global resources and security, and the investigation of the effect of technology on society. The four granting programs within the Foundation are: the Program on Global Security and Sustainability with a focus on human rights, peace, conservation and sustainable development internationally; the Program on Human and Community Development is focused within the US on topics such as affordable housing, justice, education and digital media and learning; the General Program supports public interest media, digital technologies and the arts; and the MacArthur Fellows Program awards fellowships to individuals to support their creative work.
After the discussion there was a reception with piano music and an informal discussion. Avatars from UK, France, Netherlands and US chatted with Fanton and Ondrejka about nonprofit organizations in Second Life and had the opportunity to tour around the sim to learn about the work and funded projects of the Foundation.
To keep updated about events on MacArthur Island, join the "MacArthur SL Events" group in world