MacArthur Island latest contribution to exploration of social uses of virtual worlds

The MacArthur Foundation Island opened in May in the virtual world of Second Life. The island is a new laboratory for MacArthur’s two-year exploration of virtual worlds, the user-created 3D communities that allow users to connect with real people from all around the world. Participants engage using avatars, or simulated representations of their physical selves, which they can manipulate using their computer. They are a useful means for people dispersed geographically to convene on issues of shared interest, and have also been used for fundraising, spreading awareness and increasingly for education. MacArthur Island is designed as a way of educating grantees and others about the potential for philanthropy in virtual worlds and will allow grantees and foundation partners to showcase their work and connect with new audiences. ‘We are just beginning to understand the potential of virtual worlds for social good, and MacArthur Island will make it possible for us to take the next steps in our investigation,’ said MacArthur President Jonathan Fanton, adding, ‘now is the time to do this work. Philanthropy should be an active player as these new spaces take shape.’

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