Public Goods in Virtual Worlds
May 11th, 2008

I agreed to help judge the competition for Second Life and the Public Good: A Community Challenge gives real rewards. I need to say no to all offers for the rest of the summer, so I can concentrate on the social media classroom/collaboratory, but I couldn’t say no to this.

The USC Network Culture Project is hosting a Community Challenge entitled Second Life and the Public Good; request for Proposals is now available on the web at Teams and individuals can apply to win a three month grant of L$100,000 per month with land to develop their vision for real world action.

A special international language session will be held on May 12, 2008 at 9PM PST to ask questions about the new community challenge. Panelists and USC Network Culture hosts will be on hand to answer questions about this new grant cycle within Second Life on 5/12 and 5/15 at Noon at the International Island amphitheatre. Community Challenge panelists include Howard Rheingold, Rik Panganiban, Craig Wacker, Lori Bell and Randall Moss; community leaders from Second Life and social media circles.

Led by Doug Thomas, principal investigator at the USC Annenberg School of Communication, the USC Network Culture project invites the residents of Second Life to imagine new ways that virtual worlds such as Second Life can be used to make a contribution to the public good. Thomas introduced the challenge inworld: “We really wanted to put out a challenge to the various communities that make up Second Life to find ways to use a virtual world to make a difference in the physical world”.

Community Challenge proposals from groups, organizations or individuals will show how Second Life can enhance, develop, or sustain the public good. The best submissions will be selected based on how well they demonstrate the significance of virtual worlds for making an impact on society or culture. Up to three finalists will be selected by community vote to receive sizable grants for a three month development season. The Network Culture group in Second Life will help avatars track progress through the June voting cycle.

Projects may address any social need and could include conservation, human rights and international justice, global peace and security, reproductive health, digital media and learning, or juvenile justice. Finished proposals will be emailed to and should provide a clear description of how the project uses the abilities of Second Life to advance the project goals.

This Community Challenge is part of ongoing philanthropic research in virtual worlds by the USC Network Culture Project. Thomas notes “We are hoping this challenge will expand the possibilities and opportunities for philanthropy in virtual worlds. Building off the creativity and energy of virtual world residents, we also hope to challenge philanthropic organizations to start taking note of the possibilities that these spaces offer. We are really looking forward to the conversations, collaborations and new ideas that this challenge is sure to produce.”

For more information visit the Annenberg Amphitheatre on International Island at or contact Evonne Heyning, USC Network Culture events producer, In Kenzo in Second Life at

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