Greening the Virtual World

I love building new worlds; it is the most provocative challenge for a mixed media artist in today’s horizon.

Community building in virtual space has risen to the level of an art form with the advent of multiplayer worlds with real world challenges embedded within our games. We have learned to move beyond the screen and into new lives through avatars and words typed on a page and this extraordinary new type of remotely connected community has grown to maturity in less than 50 years; less than 30 years in a mode like our current incarnation of internet with basic chat and filesharing.

Our communities are not monolithic; we are as diverse as our imaginations will let us be. Through the USC Network Culture Project we were honored to give out awards this week for the Second Life and the Public Good Community Challenge. We awarded a million lindens to five great groups building out real world solutions that benefit many, having an opportunity to touch millions more with their unique work. Ability Commons, one of the award winners, takes the ideas created in the Nonprofit Commons and extends them to create a gathering point for all living with challenges and disabilities that are looking for support.

Native Lands is a project that I am personally very happy to see win an award in this challenge. We will keep land for them at the Annenberg Archipelago and they will have an opportunity to crosspollinate with communities at Justice Commons, Aloft Nonprofit Commons, Virtual Gitmo and the Wallsickness team, Interactive Accessible Home, Texas Obesity Research Center and Ability Commons. We are thrilled that these groups are coming together to reside and grow their work around the world.

This week I had the pleasure of visiting Great Strides equine therapy organization in Maryland, one of the first nonprofits that I got actively engaged with through Second Life. They have raised quite a bit by expanding their profile beyond their local region and building a beautiful horse farm on Aloft Nonprofit Commons. Brad from GS described how Second Life allowed his regional nonprofit to go international and meet new supporters around the world who would have never otherwise encountered their work. There is a history of dynamic engagement in these spaces tracking back as far as our chat.

I’m looking forward to new adventures in community building with some of my favorite projects, environmental causes coming together for a new Nonprofit Commons and the opportunity to share a new vision of collaborative building at major virtual world conferences this fall, including State of Play in Chicago this October where we will change the way we view working together.

A good summary of the carbon footprint of flexible virtual worlds containing advanced design control and persistent identity can be found in The Content Economy’s look at Carbon-free living and energy use through virtual meetings and business engagement. In this case, I think it’s easy to be green….but I do love Kermit’s thoughts on the topic:
Green on Fire at Nonprofit Commons
It’s not easy, being green
Having to spend each day the color of the leaves
When I think it could be nicer being red, or yellow or gold
Or something much more colorful like that
It’s not easy being green
It seems you blend in with so many other ordinary things
And people tend to pass you over ’cause you’re
Not standing out like flashy sparkles in the water
Or stars in the sky
But green’s the color of Spring
And green can be cool and friendly-like
And green can be big like an ocean, or important
Like a mountain, or tall like a tree
When green is all there is to be
It could make you wonder why, but why wonder why
Wonder, I am green and it’ll do fine, it’s beautiful
And I think it’s what I want to be

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