Virtual worlds meet prizes meet public good

Three of the topics I write about frequently - philanthropy and prizes, philanthropy and technology, and philanthropy as a single part of the revenue stream for public good - have all come together in Second Life. Procrastinating from writing, I was perusing my blog reader when I noticed Cory Ondrejka's post about the launch of Second Life and the Public Good: A Community Challenge. Here are some of the details:

"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.

We are currently accepting proposals from groups, organizations, or individuals for projects that 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. The finalists will be provided with a $100,000L per month building stipend (and land, if required) for three months to execute their proposal. The projects will be showcased in Second Life at the State of Play conference to be held in Chicago, October 2008.

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. Proposals should provide a clear description of how the project uses the abilities of Second Life to advance the project goals and should provide clear metrics for assessing the success of the project.

Proposals should include:
Proposals may be submitted to networkculture@gmail.comThis e-mail address is being protected from spambots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it by June 1, 2008 for consideration."
As I was writing about the things that make games successful, I realized that it comes down to "incentives" - prizes are one kind of motivator; feedback, fun and a challenge are others. These attributes - more than the actual mechanisms of prizes or games - strike me as key elements to consider as we try to understand how markets and philanthropy are blending. On a related note, I learned yesterday of another "paid incentive for social ideas" marketplace - check it out at bigcarrot. This fits in the realm of InnoCentive and social idea marketplaces.


Full Disclosure: Please see here for my relationships to MacArthur Digital Media Initiative, a funder of the USC Network. As part of this work, as well as through connections at CompuMentor/Tech Soup/NetSquared (on whose board I served until end 2007), I have met Cory Ondrejka and am a regular reader of his blog.


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