News The New Laboratory?
posted by June 22 at 12:57 PMon
Posted by Sage Van Wing
The MacArthur Foundation is breaking new ground in philanthropy— they’ve given $550,000 to the Center on Public Diplomacy to stage events in Second Life, the online virtual world.
According to this morning’s New York Times article, the grant will sponsor events to stimulate discussions about how foundations can address real-world problems like immigration and poverty. It is also something of a testing ground for the foundation — they will offer grants and develop programs in the virtual world before rolling them out in the real one. Does this strike anyone else as somewhat creepy?
Granted, I’ve never visited Second Life and I don’t plan on having an avatar anytime soon. But couldn’t you find a better way to spend half a million, MacArthur Foundation? Is this virtual world really the new testing ground for sociologists and psychiatrists and advertising execs? Do people behave in a virtual world exactly as they do in the real one? And if so, what is the point?