NONPROFITS IN SECOND LIFE - APRIL 28, 2008
ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: Welcome everybody to a very special addition of Metanomics, the
weekly show on business and policy in the metaverse of virtual worlds. As always we start
by thanking our sponsors: SAP, Cisco Systems, Generali Group, Saxo Bank, Kelly Services,
and Sun Micro Systems. Thanks also to my own institution, Cornell's Johnson Graduate
School of Management, for supporting me in this effort. And to SLCN for filming and
distributing the shows.
For those who want more information be sure to check out website, metanomics.net, our
Facebook Group, Metanomics, and you can follow us on Twitter too.
Before we get started, I'd also like to suggest you join the Metanomics Second Life group
right away so that you can participate in the backchat, which is already up and running and
continues throughout the show. This is a great way to share your ideas and pose questions.
Not just to the people who are here at Muse Isle, but also to the people who are watching at
our event partners around Second Life, including Rockcliffe University, ComMeta
Convention Center, Meta Partners Conference area, Colonia Nova Amphitheater, and the
Outreach Amphitheater of the New Media Consortium Educational Community sim.
While you're linking up to the group chat, let me introduce today's guests. Today we have
with us Susan Tenby, Senior Community Manager of TechSoup.org. TechSoup helps
nonprofit enterprises to use and build sustainable technologies systems. Serves about
350,000 monthly users from over a 190 countries. Susan is responsible for the promotion,
management and direction of the TechSoup community forums with an audience of about
100,000 unique visitors a month. And Susan has also developed TechSoup's presence in
Second Life, the Nonprofit Commons.
Randal Moss is the Director of Futuring and innovation-based strategies at the American
Cancer Society. ACS hardly needs an introduction as one of the largest nonprofit
organizations in the world with nearly a billion dollars in revenues, or since this is a nonprofit
corporation they call it "support from the public." Randal's been instrumental in bringing to
Second Life one of ACS's more public fund raising devices, Relay For Life.
Susan, Randal, welcome to Metanomics.
SUSAN TENBY: Thank you.
RANDAL MOSS: Thank you very much. It's good to be here.
ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: Let me start with you, Susan. I know how time consuming virtual
world activities can be, and I'm wondering how much of your own job, as Senior Community
Manager for TechSoup, is actually tied to Second Life?
SUSAN TENBY: Well Second Life, the Nonprofit Commons effort has really subsumed and
kind of absorbed a lot of my job. It's been a lot more than it used to be. It used to be that I
would do it kind of in evenings and weekends and my spare minutes, and it's just exploded
with popularity. So I would say now it's probably close to 50 percent of my time. But my time
is not 40 hours a week, if you know what I mean. I'm working a lot. So, yeah, it's hard to
measure percentage in that way.
ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: Yeah, Second Life does that to you.
SUSAN TENBY: Yeah. We had to hire somebody else to take over a lot of my previous job
because of this project.
ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: Okay. I was wondering when you said that the Second Life work
is subsuming a lot of your other work. How big of an aspect of TechSoup is Second Life
now? Is it still I assume relatively, you know, just a very small part of what TechSoup's
community side is doing?
SUSAN TENBY: I run TechSoup's community efforts, though my title is Senior Manager of
Online Community Development. So I run all of--every place that we are is one of our
community efforts. So it's one of a constellation of efforts for sure. And TechSoup has
several programs, and we have NetSquared, which is our Web 2.0 arm, and the Second
Life efforts kind of fall under that. We also have our software distribution program, which is
our largest program, TechSoup Stock, which is really hardware and software product
distribution, large vendors like Cisco, Microsoft, Symantec donate their products, and we
pass those along to nonprofits at 95 percent off of retail. So that's our largest program, the
software distribution program. And then we have many other programs, kind of articles and
worksheets, and we have a lot of kind of on-the-ground meet-ups. So it's one of several
programs in the organization. But it's actually become--we have a computer recycle initiative
as well and green computing. But Second Life Nonprofit Commons program has become
kind of one of the highest profile programs in the organization for obvious reasons.
ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: So in the Nonprofit Commons you have about, what, something
on the order of 70 different nonprofits, is that right?
SUSAN TENBY: Yeah, we have two sims. We have about 70 residents, which are basically
renting free offices, inhabiting offices for free. And these are just different types of nonprofit
communities. We have our first sim, which is the Plush Nonprofit Commons, which was
donated by Anche Chung studios. And we have our newest sim, which we're going to
launch formally, it's already launched, but we're going kind of launch it formally at the
NetSquared conference at the end of May with a mixed reality event and a lot of splash. And
that one is a lot more freeform. It's very different kind of feel--the Nonprofit Commons, one,
on Plush is very kind of academic university setting. And the second Nonprofit Common sim
on Aloft Island is a lot more free flowing and kind of organic, and different organizations
wanted different types of a setting.
So we have about 70 residents. We also have many different members that are volunteer
members that aren’t residents. So as a result, we have probably about 400 members
altogether, but 70 residents.
ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: Yeah, that's a pretty good group. So, Randal, you are Director of
Futuring and innovation-based strategies. What exactly is that? And why would American
Cancer Society have one?
RANDAL MOSS: Well the American Cancer Society's Futuring and Innovation Community
is about six years old. The real purpose of it is is to do two things. The first is to help our
Board of Directors when they identify long-term critical important trends to our mission, and
of course our mission is to finding a cure for cancer. And in lieu of finding a medical cure for
cancer, we are out to do as much patient service, medical research, epidemiological
research that we can do while we continue to actively look for a cure. So there are future
trends. There are things that are happening in the world that are going to impact how we are
able to do what we do. The Future and Innovation Community takes those large ideas and
we try to help develop innovative solutions to those problems.
If you can think of, you know, innovations are the answers to the big questions. So what I do
with our community is we actively work to find great brilliant staff ideas to problems that
exist. And they can be anything from process innovations, all the way up to large
breakthrough innovation and ideas. So one of the concepts that came out of this was, "Hey,
should we be participating in virtual communities?" And we provided a seed fund grant,
almost like an internal venture capital, and we allowed one of our staff members to really
investigate this in conjunction with a volunteer. And now we have the Relay For Life in
Second Life, which has been a tremendous success in building community development.
ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: Yeah, we'll be talking a little more about the Relay For Life later.
We actually have a reporter on the spot, Cybergirl Oh, who is going to give us some visuals
on that. But for now, I’d like to stick a little more with just you personally, Randal, since you
seem to be--well, I guess I’ve got my first life in my Second Life. You have life four as far as
I can tell. You just told us about one. Can you tell us a little bit about some of the other stuff
that you’re doing?
RANDAL MOSS: I believe you asked Susan the question, and I’ll give you my perspective.
Second Life, in supporting our volunteers in Second Life, I would say is about 15 maybe
20 percent of my job. It’s probably easily the most enjoyable 15 or 20 percent of my job, but
we do a lot of extensive work with our American Cancer Society staff. There’s 6,000 of
them. We have a couple of different boards of directors. I personally, as volunteer work, I’m
the Executive Director of the Second Life Community Convention, which is now entering it’s
fourth year coming up the first full weekend of September. And in addition, I am playing in
the symphony here in my hometown. I mean there’s a whole bunch of different other things.
Part of being in nonprofit is, and I’m Susan could tell is, you have to be a member of your
community and be involved in the community if you really want to help drive your own
mission. So I guess that’s what we try and do.
ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: Now you are also a blogger. You’ve got a blog called Community
Mobilization. You’ve had a series of really interesting posts about one-man nonprofits, which
is such an idea. Can you tell us a little bit about this type of very small-scale enterprise?
RANDAL MOSS: So you’re the one person that’s been reading. Thank you by the way. I
very much appreciate it. I think and I believe that the idea of the one-man nonprofit is very
interesting, and I think that Susan and TechSoup would have a lot more experience in it.
Like I said, I work for a 6,000-person international nonprofit, the American Cancer Society,
but we do actively support a number of international cancer leagues in their fight against
cancer in their home country.
The idea’s really interesting. Every person wants to feel and do something important to them
to make the world a better place, and I think that this series of posts on Community
Mobilization took a little bit of a critical look at that. What happens when you take a
collective whole effort and you break it up into small pieces, do you dilute the ability to act
on mission? Do you increase exposure for a cause? Do you gain in economies of scale, or
do you lose in economies of scale?
And, from a management perspective, and a management lens, it becomes a real challenge
to a large organization like any of the other national health or national activism
organizations. How do we let people organize events and organize activities that they
personally are passionate about, that will help to move the greater mission forward most
effectively? And I think that’s the real big looming question that exists, in terms of the
ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: There’s a professor at Harvard, Yochai Benkler, who’s written a
book; I think it’s called something like The Power of Networks. I know someone will correct
me in the backchat on the title. But he talks about tasks that can be granularized. So for
example, Wikipedia he says has been very successful because it’s possible for someone to
just carve out one tiny little chunk of a job, and they can do it and they can make a
difference. They don’t need to work really closely with other people. On the other hand, he’s
pointed out that collaborative textbooks haven’t worked because, in fact, you need to pull
something together that has a common thread running through it, and so it can’t be broken
up into these discrete tasks. Oh, I see I am getting some backchat where people are say,
“Shouldn’t that be one-person nonprofits?” Actually, I bet you were more politically correct
on the word.
SUSAN TENBY: Right. I was going to correct you, but I thought it wasn’t appropriate to
interrupt a friend. The one-woman nonprofit is the Nonprofit Commons. I’m among the many
volunteers that followed suit, but it began as one pink woman.
ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: One pink woman.
RANDAL MOSS: In that statement, I would be tremendously curious. The split between the
one-man and one-woman nonprofits just to look at the philanthropic urges and capacities of
men and women. Are there more individual men or individual women who are really out
there fighting hard to make a difference for what they believe in?
SUSAN TENBY: Are you talking about online nonprofits or Real World, on-the-ground
RANDAL MOSS: I think I'm talking about both. I think that we, Susan, you and I both have
proved that you can take an online virtual community like this and make a difference in the
Real World. So I would say both, either or, whether it be the person in Greenwich,
Connecticut, who wants to form an ecological awareness society that focuses on their very
specific niche, or whether it’s someone here in Second Life who wants to form an animal
awareness--as I see we have plenty of animals in the audience today. An animal awareness
or protection from cruelty for animals group or nonprofit here virtually. It’s a mix. It’s both,
and I think real and virtual are beginning to blend, in terms of the ability to make a
SUSAN TENBY: Mm-hmm.
RANDAL MOSS: Thanks, in part, to help from you because you’re taking these folks and
giving them the tools and the training and ability to do that, which is highly commendable.
SUSAN TENBY: Who me? Or Beyers? Okay.
ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: I’m guessing that’s you, Susan, and not me since--
SUSAN TENBY: Well, I wasn’t sure what the reference was. Yeah, actually, I mean that’s
what we’re trying to do. I mean that’s one of our goals with the Nonprofit Commons is
definitely to help nonprofits get--there are kind of--the goals are a little bit multifold, but one
of the goals is to help nonprofits get exposure so that they can better achieve their Real Life
missions, and they get exposure through having access to this community and through
these tools, kind of augmenting their regular communications plans and really seeing this as
a way, on a kind of more global level, as a way to do global business without making a
carbon footprint and without spending any money and easily connecting. So I mean kind of
increasing the volunteer base, increasing funds, increasing all aspects of communications.
So that is kind of the very lofty goal of this project. And to build community within our own
I mean I’m in the nonprofit tech community, and we are a pretty insular community, but to
grow the nonprofit tech community by going--I mean my own community philosophy kind of
is about growing community, meeting people where they’re at versus trying to just bring
everyone to TechSoup, that kind of the idea of dispersing and meeting people where they’re
at. And, if people are in Second Life, and they are, and they want to do good, finding those
people and connecting with them and helping them volunteer. I mean it’s happened over
and over again with this project where I’ve met so many interesting people working for
nonprofits and also people who want to volunteer for a nonprofit but never knew how to find
the right nonprofit, and they just happen to be in Second Life and happen to want to spend
their volunteer hours in that way.
ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: Well, one of the things Christian Renaud, of Cisco Systems, has
talked a lot about is serendipity in Virtual Worlds, which is basically Virtual Worlds are a
place. Someone goes to the Nonprofit Commons, it’s not just like going to a website that
has the names of a bunch of different organizations. You can actually bump into someone,
quite literally, and find out, “Oh, gol, you’re interested in that as well.” And, hey, maybe they
can pull together a two-person nonprofit.
Now, Susan, you recently achieved some minor fame when the Daily Show picked up on
your recent testimony to the U.S. Congress. Wiz Nordberg, of SLCN, tells me that I can’t
show the Daily Show clip but just for legal rights reasons. But, I guess, to summarize what
we have, we have Jon Stewart complaining first that you took the name he wanted, that he
had to settle for Glitteractica Cookie II, saying, “Damn you, Tenby.”
SUSAN TENBY: And the whole world followed by saying that. It's getting old.
ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: Yes. That’s right. This is going to be now your tagline.
SUSAN TENBY: Right.
ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: That’s kind of like when you break your foot and you’re in a cast,
and no one can do anything but ask you, “What’s with the cast? What did you do?” Then we
get to see Rob Riggle as the correspondent in Second Life, wearing a dolphin avatar with
boobs. So you made your own clip to respond to that.
SUSAN TENBY: Yeah, I guess the context was the dolphin for people who didn’t see the
Jon Stewart video was that they did a mock Second Life, did a mock kind of in-world
interview with a report that was a dolphin. They had a dolphin with breasts in the actual
Jon Stewart, so that’s why we decided to go with that, in terms of a response.
ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: I’m sure someone will type the link into backchat so people can
go see the Jon Steward clip, but we do have--
SUSAN TENBY: Oh, it’s also on nonprofitcommons.org. That’s our blog. So if you just scroll
down, you’ll see the Jon Stewart clip through there. The easiest way.
ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: Excellent. But we’re also going to show right here your response
clip. So, Wiz, can you pop that on now?
REPORTER: [Dolphin sounds] Hello, this is [Altum Hopvines?], dolphin reporter for the
Second Life’s network. Recently in the news, Susan Tenby reported to Congress on the use
of Second Life by nonprofits. That evening, Jon Stewart and Ron Riggle made fun of the
proceedings and Susan’s giant pink cat avatar, Glitteractica Cookie. The response from
Second Life was almost immediately. Hundreds of avatars held a protest mask-in, to show
their support for the real value of Second Life and the work done by Ms. Tenby and the
SUSAN TENBY: This is Susan Tenby, also known as Glitteractica Cookie. You might
remember me from earlier in the week. You made fun of my name. So I just wanted to let
you know I want to give you a little more context about what we really do in Second Life with
our nonprofit group, and it doesn’t have to do with dolphins and breasts.
SUSAN TENBY: Damn you, Stewart.
ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: So that is a great clip, Susan. Personally, I think Jon Stewart and
Rob Riggle need to come into Second Life for real to answer for their crime. So what do you
think it takes to get them to appear on Metanomics?
SUSAN TENBY: I’d be interested and willing to write them if you want me to ask them. I
don’t know what it takes. It’s a good question.
ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: Well, you know, it makes sense for them, for Comedy Central to
be paying attention to Virtual Worlds. Comedy Central and MTV are both Viacom properties,
and MTV has taken a major plunge into Virtual Worlds. They’ve got a virtual skate park, a
virtual Laguna Beach, virtual Pimp My Ride. So why not a virtual Daily Show. Or, better yet,
better yet, Colbert Nation as a Virtual World. I think we might have an easier time getting
Stephen Colbert than Jon Stewart. He’s pretty much Jon Stewart’s little brother, and it’s so
easy to get little brothers to do things. Basically, you just dare them.
Okay. Okay, here it is. Get that camera on me, Wiz. So here it is, Stephen Colbert, the
Metanomics-Colbert challenge. I dare you to come into Second Life and join me on my
show, Metanomics, right here on Muse Isle anytime. Feeling chicken? I bet you are because
you know what Second Life is full of? Bears. Wiz, show the bears. Show Mr. Colbert those
bears. Big ones. Little ones. Pandas. Grizzlies. You name it. We have it right here, right
now, on Muse isle, and it’ll be here whenever you’re ready. Now, Jon Stewart’s little brother,
I know what you’re thinking, “What’ll you give me?” So, Wiz, show Mr. Colbert what we’ll
have for him if he comes into Second Life, on to Metanomics. That’s right. Do we have it?
Mr. Colbert, your own eagle avatar. Look! He can fly. And if the bears get too scary, you can
always be safe.
Do you think he can resist that?
SUSAN TENBY: I don’t.
ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: I don’t know. We’ll see. We’ll need to get some viral power. And
we can give his eagle a name. Right? I don’t know. Freedom Soars or something like that.
He can spell that last name however he wants. Anyway, I’m sorry. I just had to do that.
SUSAN TENBY: That was great.
ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: That was fun.
RANDAL MOSS: I hope it works. Let me know. I want to be in the audience to see that one.
SUSAN TENBY: Yeah.
ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: Yeah, well, no one’s going to want to be Buyers Sellers II. Hey,
people from Viacom, MTV, you first. Right? Tell us why you’re in working with McKenna in
Sorry to take away from you guys because what you’re talking about really is fascinating
stuff. I do this kind of thing, in part, because we’re trying to build a community of people
interested in fairly serious matters. But you take a little flyer now and then to try to get a
higher profile. At that U.S. Congressional testimony, Larry Johnson talked about--
SUSAN TENBY: Someone is saying Eagleactica. Sorry. That’s pretty [CROSSTALK]
ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: Eagleactica! Ooh! Eagleactica we got here.
SUSAN TENBY: Sorry to interrupt. You were talking about Larry Johnson’s testimony.
ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: Yeah. Larry Johnson is the CEO of New Media Consortium, and I
was interviewing him on Metanomics last Friday. He talked for a while about how New
Media Consortium’s Second Life activities are self-sustaining. So I’m wondering whether
either of you are self-sustaining through revenue-generating activities and, if not, where you
look for funding.
SUSAN TENBY: I will go first. We are not revenue sustaining in this project, although we
really would like to be, and, frankly, we need to be. My organization luckily--kind of trusts.
I’ve been with the organization since before there was a TechSoup. I was actually hired to
launch TechSoup. I’m the only member left of the original launch team eight years ago. And
so they trust, you know, when I said that this was the place that we needed to be, and it was
going to take a lot more time than setting up a Facebook account. This is a different type of
online community and that we needed to be here. They trusted me, and they’ve invested.
And, as our president, CEO and founder told me, “You’ve been playing with house money
for the past couple years, but, at some point, we need to get this project funded because we
don’t charge the members anything.” So there is no revenue-generating kind of model in this
Nonprofit Commons project.
The mission of TechSoup is to lower the barrier of access to technology to nonprofits. And
so therefore, the mission of the Nonprofit Commons in Second Life Project is the same, and
we’re just trying to lower the barrier of access to Virtual Worlds for nonprofits, with the goal
of kind of expanding eventually into other Virtual Worlds and having--I mean we’ve
embarked upon--mean my testimony and Rik Riel’s paper, we’re embarking upon what we
think is a set of best practices for nonprofits in Second Life. But I mean it’s ever evolving.
We’re trying to get funding. I’m actually going to be presenting a little bit at the Council on
Foundations so, hopefully, we’ll be getting the ear of some larger foundations. We’ve had
some smaller foundational help and some smaller in-kind donations, as I mentioned,
Anche Chung Studios. Taking it global gave us our second sim. But we’re really looking to
sustain the project, and we are not doing any kind of fee for service, so it’s going to be grant
supported when we get the foundation--because right now, really, the foundations are
cheering from the sidelines. I mean the Case Foundation, MacArthur, Ford. These
foundations are interested and are having me come and speak to them and having us share
our efforts with them, but so far that’s been where it stopped, so we really do need to get
ourselves funded so we can grow this project.
ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: And, Randal, how about you and ACS?
RANDAL MOSS: The American Cancer Society also, unlike TechSoup, we have been
playing with house money. The American Cancer Society funds the costs involved in renting
the space for the island, as well as renting the 35 sims, give or take, for the Relay For Life.
The money that we raise from the community, and, again, it’s a grassroots event, the Relay
For Life, as well as the donations that come in, generally speaking, from residents. That
money does not go towards the management of our space. It is budgeted for in my personal
budget in the Futuring and Innovation community’s budget. The money that we bring in goes
directly towards the Relay For Life activities, and that gets applied across the world actually,
and I’m very proud to say that the first 20 percent of the money that we raised goes to
education activities in foreign countries. We run a program called the ACS University that
helps foreign cancer leagues, and cancer associations and societies in other countries learn
how to be good stewards of their own money, learn how to advocate for their own citizens
and really how to move the mission of fighting cancer in their home country. So we’re really
proud because we recognize that the internet community is a global community, so we feel
it very responsible and very proud to be helping people all over the world in their fight
against cancer through that.
The last 80 percent gets divided amongst our American regions. We have 13 of them. The
remaining 80 percent goes evenly between the 13.
But I think what’s important to realize and understand is, for the first year, we were in the
negative. Susan is lucky enough that some of her land has been donated. We paid for our
land, but our fundraising is exceptionally high. But, again, it doesn’t stay in Second Life. The
fundraising goes towards the greater American Cancer Society budget. And, in doing so, we
also recognize the need and the importance of bringing more services back into Second
Life, and that’s really a big focus for the rest of 2008. Specifically going past Relay, we’re
really looking to bring the National Cancer Information Center; that’s our 800 number, which
is 800 ACS-2345. It’s 24/7 where you can speak with a cancer information specialist. We’re
working to find a way to integrate that into Second Life so that residents can pick up a
phone and call or chat directly with a cancer information specialist, without having to leave
their community, without having to leave Second Life. So we are actively looking and finding
ways to give back to the community in appreciation and to really treat it like any other
community anywhere else in the world that we would service.
SUSAN TENBY: I have to say also that these are services that--I had cancer in 1997, and
one of my first interests in Second Life was as a cancer survivor looking for cancer support
group meetings. And I would have loved to have had--in ’97, had this been around, I would
have really been an active member, and it would have been something that I needed
because beyond the fact that support groups are usually only, at least for the kind of cancer
I had--I had lymphoma, they were only once a month. They were not very close to my
house. I would have loved to have had kind of the daily access to other people going
through the same thing and the extended resources. I mean I ended up starting my own
very crude 1997 homespun cancer community for young women at the time. And it’s since
collapsed. But I think what you guys are doing is so important is all I’m just trying to say. I
just hope that you continue growing.
ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: Well, and I hope that you are both able to find lots of sponsors.
So I know we have a lot of execs from enterprises, with money, listening to Metanomics. So
if you’re out there, give Glitter and Randal a call.
SUSAN TENBY: My email is susan@techsoup, by the way. Because, as we know, offline
in-world IMs are not always super reliable, especially if you get flooded.
ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: Randal, you mentioned Relay For Life, which has got to be one of
the most successful fundraising events of any type across Second Life. Where this has
gone, you really have to just see it to believe it. And so we have Cybergirl Oh, host of the
Real Biz show that airs every Monday at 1:00 P.M. Second Life time right here on SLCN
has pulled together a clip where she is giving people visual insight into where Relay for Life
has gone. So, Wiz, can you get us Cybergirl Oh?
CYBERGIRL OH: Thanks, Beyers. The Relay For Life was inspired by an oncologist in
Tacoma, Washington, who raised money from 300 friends and family members to sponsor
him as he circled a track for 24 hours. Since then, the Relay For Life has brought the
American Cancer Society over two billion dollars in the last 23 years. There have been four
annual Relay For Life events in Second Life. The most successful to date: the event in
2007, which was organized by 75 people, with over 1,700 avatars on 35 sims, raising
$118,000-U.S. from more than 2,500 different contributors.
Leave it to Second Life resident Racerx Gullwing, who is over here with me at the moment
to take Relay For Life to even more creative heights. Racerx is the visionary behind the
successful SLCN TV show, Giant Snail Races. Every Saturday, dozens of Second Life
residents don 15-meter-tall avatars and, well, they race. And just like Real World racing
cars, giant snails are great opportunities for advertising. JenzZa Misfit, who, by the way, is
over by that giant snail sign, owns Muse Isle and co-owns Rendezvous Animations. Every
Saturday, JenzZa races both for fun and to promote her company and her sim, with logos
plastered across her giant snail, just like a NASCAR race. JenzZa even coined a term for
In 2006, Racerx had the brilliant idea of marrying snail racing with the Relay For Life.
Hydra Shaftoe’s snail was the winner of last week’s race, beating out 62 other snails. The
race took place across 42 sims, totaling over 10,000 meters, raising 42,000 Linden.
Combine that with over 40,000 Linden from the previous race, and three more races to go,
we’re talking a very successful fundraising event. I got to tell you I’m going to get one of
Back to you, Beyers.
ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: So now, Randal, it seems to me that this sort of thing would make
a lot of for-profit organizations cringe. Here you have high profile respectable event, Relay
For Life, done I know around the country. I’m going to guess you’re going to tell me it’s
around the world as well. And here’s a goofy bunny who makes giant snails, and, all of a
sudden, it’s Relay For Life giant snail race. So the for-profit companies always worry that
they’re going to come into Second Life, they’re going to lose control of their brand. And so
analysts recommend, “Oh, go into There, or make your own world. You can limit
user-generated content.” How do you encourage this within the limits of what the ACS is
willing to see their brand used for?
RANDAL MOSS: Well, we have approached our volunteer corps, and we have what I
believe up and down, left and right the best and most dedicated and caring volunteer core
that's out there with an attitude of if you enable and empower them and educate them well,
they will do right by you, by your brand and by your mission. And, for the last four years, we
have seen that time and time again. Relay For Life is, it’s a family event. Honestly and
truthfully-- [DOG BARKING]
SUSAN TENBY: Sorry about that. Sorry about that.
RANDAL MOSS: And dogs sometimes come to Relay For Life too. And that’s very true. It is
an event that is family. It is built around caring and compassion. And when you turn that kind
of a brand loose, what you find is the absolute best in people comes out and comes forward.
And so when we say, “Hey, be creative. Be interesting. Be unique. And be PG,” it happens.
And when it doesn’t happen, we get emails that say, “Hey, there’s something that’s a little bit
maybe not exactly what you would want your brand to be associated with,” and we address
it as it goes. But it really doesn’t happen often. The community itself is very self-policing,
and we put a lot of trust in the fact that we have educated our volunteers well, that they have
organized themselves in a way that, if something less than tasteful appears, that they take it
down, or they find a way to have it taken down very quickly. Frankly, people love relay. It is
something wonderful to love. Thank goodness it’s not a brand that people should have any
sort of not fantastic feelings about.
When you go to a relay, and I’ve been to dozens and dozens of them, it’s the same
emotional feeling every time. You feel love. You feel compassion. You feel the fighting spirit
within you, and it allows you to walk away from the end of an event knowing that yes, there
is hope, there is progress to be made. And, if we continue forth, that we’re going to find
answers to the questions we have, like how do we stop cancer.
ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: It’s an inspiring message and, I guess, an inspiring medium
through which to convey it. Let me ask, I’d like to follow up on this notion of the fanciful
elements of Virtual Worlds in particular when you’re doing things in here. This is actually--I
was counting--this is my 35th show, 35th live Metanomics show since we started in
September. I have interviewed top executives from Virtual World companies, authors,
executives from a lot of Real World for-profit companies, some academics and, for the most
part, they really are scared of kind of the fanciful side. You, Glitteractica, you are my first
pink cat. So I’m wondering, I feel like most people are so worried about what I call the game
taint, that they’re not taken seriously, that they follow the advice that Chris Collins, who
works at the University of Cincinnati in the state of Ohio, she has given the advice basically,
“Look businesslike. Wear a suit,” even though it’s a Virtual World. So do you think that, in
this roomful of bears, do you think that it is really different for nonprofits, that you can stretch
SUSAN TENBY: Well, I think that’s a really good question, and I wonder why so many
people shy away from that question. I don’t understand. There’s some sort of pervasive fear
of the fun element. And I think that it would be really missing the point if people were to shy
away from the fun element. It doesn’t mean that it can’t be educational. It doesn’t mean that
it can’t be a successful tool, but to try and ignore the fun element seems almost like, I mean
there’s the elephant in the middle of the room, and it’s a 3D online world, and you can do
anything you want. So why would you want to look exactly like you already look? And I just
don’t think that it has to take away. I mean that is the whole thing with Jon Stewart. It’s like,
yeah, it’s very easy for people, who don’t understand, to make fun of a funny avatar name,
but once people get used to handles, I mean, on the web back in the day, 15 years ago, the
same comments were being made about chat rooms and how crazy, how could it ever be
used for anything serious. I don’t think it has to do with nonprofits. I think, in general, there’s
kind of a fear, a fear of the fun element taking away from the serious practice. And it just
really doesn’t need to be, and so that’s purposefully why I chose my name and look the way
that I would look if I had a choice. If I had a choice, I would look like this so there you go.
RANDAL MOSS: And if I had a choice, I would look exactly the way I look as my avatar,
which would be, I think, about 6-5, 270 and about one percent body fat and gorgeous hair.
ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: I’m surprised you’re wearing a shirt with your avatar.
RANDAL MOSS: But Susan, who knows me in a Real Life role, and we’ve been fortunate
enough to meet and spend a lot of time together at various conferences, knows that I look
exactly the way that I do in my avatar.
SUSAN TENBY: Right. And so do I.
RANDAL MOSS: But I think that it was a very hard initial first barrier to get over. That, oh
my goodness, people dress up like Wonder Woman and run around. Or, people dress up
ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: Or fly.
RANDAL MOSS: Or fly. Or people dress up like anime and manga characters. It’s okay to
have a Gundam walking in a Relay For Life. Really, honestly, it’s fine. It’s fine. Or the
Pillsbury Doughboy or a bear outfit. It’s accepting people for their self-expression. And,
looking a little bit deeper in the layer next that you find is, they may be dressed up like a
bear, but they’re there because they care deeply about whatever it is that you’re doing. And,
if you can get over that initial book cover and get into the meat of the person, then you’re
really and truly a winner. I think that this is something tragically that happens all over the
world all the time. That there’s suppositions and predispositions about people from their
appearance. And, once you really get beyond that, you learn so much wonderful stuff. I think
that is accelerated and exacerbated because, when you’re in a Virtual World, the sky,
honestly and truly, is the limit, and you can do anything, including color your skin pink and
get a cat tail or dress up like a grizzly or panda or what have you.
SUSAN TENBY: But, you know, I think there is another side to it.
ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: Oh, go ahead.
SUSAN TENBY: No, I think it’s interesting because what I’ve discovered is, there is another
side to it. I mean there’s the element where I am a very kind of creative visual person, and I
wanted to be able to express that. But then it does give you a little bit of you have to do that
explanation. I mean, for the type of person that I am and the type of work I do, the
explanation is actually important. It’s an important step in it. But, from an in-world
perspective, I know that, it’s funny, I have found that I have prejudice against avatars that
are, for example, really dark or a cloud of vapor. I mean where I don’t see a face, I
immediately think they’re a griefer. And that’s been a really interesting kind of
psychodynamic for me in-world, just as an in-world citizen. It’s like, even with this crazy
limitless nonhuman world that we exist in, there are still kind of prejudices even within that.
And there are people where, if an avatar looks peculiar in a way that--I’m not used to
hanging out with a cloud of vapor or locust and, if one flies by me, I might immediately
right-click and look at their profile and see when they were born because I immediately have
a fear that, having gone through a coupled pretty harsh griefing attacks on our sim that
brought it to a screeching halt, I have those fears. I guess there’s a balance, which is why
I’m not a totally feline cat, and I’m a humanesque cat.
ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: So you can see me. I’m the accounting professor in Second Life
that I am in Real Life. And actually, let me mention that I’m also not a great content creator.
Bevan Whitfield, who works with me on Metanomics, actually created my skin and shape to
look like a more handsome and stylish version of Rob Bloomfield.
I also want to thank Bevan real quickly for something else she did today. This is a special
Metanomics show for me, not just because we’re making fun of Stephen Colbert, not just
because I have two great guests, but because we have a special audience member: My
mom is in the audience, in Second Life, for the first time, somewhere, I think, back in the
middle. Her name is Barb. So I don’t think it’s so--
SUSAN TENBY: Hi, Barb.
RANDAL MOSS: Hi, Barb.
ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: Right. I have to join me in saying, “Hi, Mom.”
SUSAN TENBY: Hi, Beyers Sellers’ mom.
RANDAL MOSS: Yes, exactly.
ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: Now, Susan, you were talking about griefing.
SUSAN TENBY: Glitter. Call me Glitter.
ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: Glitter. Sorry about that. I really have trouble with the
RL/SL membrane. So someone whose name is very difficult to pronounce,
ManquQhpaqInca Qunhua, I think, asked the following question. It’s flipping the tables here
a little bit because they’re worried about being griefed by nonprofits or erstwhile nonprofits.
The question is: How can we make Second Life a safer place for nonprofits in order to avoid
fake charities or scams, but at the same time giving freedom and support for people
interested in doing charity work and creating new charities based only in Second Life that
could, after a certain time, migrate to Real Life?
SUSAN TENBY: I’m confused about the fake charities part. What is the concern?
ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: Having covered a lot of the financial sector in Second Life where
anyone can just pop up the name CEO over their head and say they’re running a business
and taking investments.
SUSAN TENBY: Oh, okay. I get it.
ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: The same type of thing. So let me ask: Glitter, do you vet the
people that want to use Nonprofit Commons?
SUSAN TENBY: Right. I was just going to answer with that, actually, with that point, which
is that, no, we don’t. Through TechSoup, when we offer software to nonprofits, we go
through a Guide Star. We have a vetting system. But because this is a volunteer-run
organization and I’m really the only paid staff member doing it, we don’t obviously have the
resources to be running those, and I don’t really necessarily want to. So I just kind of think
about it. Basically, the vetting is that, if somebody wants to be involved with a Nonprofit
Commons project, we give them a set, and all these steps are actually listed on the Wiki,
which is linked from nonprofitcommons.org. But we give them a set of questions that we
want them to answer and kind of those questions being like, “What do you want to do with
your organization in-world? What does your organization do in Real Life? How would you
connect the dots? What kind of offer could you provide our community because we’re really
volunteer-run? So currency being time, what could you do to help the rest of the
community? What kind of skills do you offer?”
So we’re really kind of serving social benefit orgs, and there are actually orgs that exist only
in Second Life that are part of our community and orgs that have like a transgender or
resource center, the transgender resource center has become a Real Life organization, but
that has been in evolution, and it started in Second Life, and they’re Nonprofit Commons
residents. So it’s kind of a constellation. It’s anywhere on that scale of Real Life nonprofit
like Care USA, like America’s Second Harvest. There are many others, but just for women.
And then all the way to organizations that only exist in-world. As long as they’re a social
benefit organization and they want to connect with other social benefit organizations, we
want them in.
RANDAL MOSS: From the American Cancer Society’s point of view, we have a vested
interest in making Second Life and making virtual communities a safer, I guess is a good
word to use, a safer place for people to donate money and participate with their organization
or nonprofit organization of choice.
I speak with a number of nonprofits every week who said, “Hey, it’s interesting. I want to do
this, but I don’t know how, in terms of verifying.” And I get volunteers who come up to me all
the time and say, “How do I know you’re for real?” And it’s hard. I mean it’s very hard when
you have people who are skeptical. I say, “Well, call 1-800-ACS-2345 and ask about it,” or,
“Got to cancer.org and look it up. All of our information is there.” “Well, how do I know you
didn’t make those web pages?” I mean there comes a point when you say, “I’m not going to
spend any more time. I’ve given you enough resources within a reasonable doubt.” But I
think it is very important that organizations, specifically existing nonprofits, take a number of
steps to make sure that they are protecting their donors’ interests.
I’m very proud that we’ve spent a lot of time protecting and working to protect the interests
of the people who are donating their hard-earned money to support our lifesaving mission.
You can call the 800 number, and you can get information about the Relay For Life on
Second Life. We have a page on cancer.org. More importantly, if you look over, I guess it’s
to my right, we have two kinds of donation kiosks, and we’ve taken extreme measures
working with a couple of developers so that the money that we collect goes immediately and
unquestionably to one master account that is owned and solely operated by the American
Cancer Society so that there are not any questions about, “Well, somebody raised some
money, and they said they were raising it for this organization, but it turns out they kept half
of it, and so my donation really didn’t go to help what I thought it was helping.” So we take
that very seriously. And part of that, sadly, is when we’re trying to exert a little bit more
control over donations, but we’re doing it because we care about making sure that the
money that we collect really honestly impacts this mission that we have. I hope that answers
a little bit or adds onto your question a little bit more.
ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: Yeah, I think that’s very helpful. Unfortunately, that’s going to be
almost the last word because we are running out of time. But I want to thank you both for
coming on to the show and remind my audience that they can see this show--especially
right if you’re here in the audience, it’s hard to see the show--you can watch it Tuesday,
3:00 P.M. Second Life time, at Muse Isle, right here at Muse Isle, on Metanomics Rewind.
So that’s a chance not only to catch the show, but to watch it with others who share your
interests. And that’s on Tuesday at 3:00.
SUSAN TENBY: [CROSSTALK] as well.
ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: Yeah, Tuesday, 3:00 P.M. Second Life time. So tell your
volunteers because a lot of people can’t. This is part of my day job. A lot of people can’t
make it at 11:00 A.M. Pacific time so this is something that’s a little more convenient for a lot
of people, particularly in the U.S.
RANDAL MOSS: Well, I’ll tell you this: I just put that on my calendar, and I’m going to make
a concerted effort Tuesday at 3:00 P.M. SLT, to actually be back here and to do some
question and answer if some people have additional questions that they want to ask about
how we are doing what we're doing. I’m going to do my best to put that in. It’s a little bit later
in the evening for me. But I appreciate the opportunity to be here and want to continue
giving back to your community.
SUSAN TENBY: Me too. So that’s Tuesday at 3:00 P.M. SLT. Is that what you said?
ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: That’s right. Right here. And JenzZa Misfit, who owns Muse Isle,
can work with you on the details of that. I just want to close with a brief sort of summary of
one of the themes.
SUSAN TENBY: I’m trying to get back in-world. Sorry, I crashed.
ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: Oh, that’s okay. One of the themes of the show has been Second
Life is a little difficult to work with. Right after we talked about your pink cat, we had an
empty chair there for a bit. But one of the running themes of this show, really, it’s had a
couple purposes for me. I’m doing this primarily for education. I have to admit I think
probably the person who has learned the most from these 35 episodes has got to be me, by
talking with people like you and doing the advance research and listening to what you have
to say. It’s really been fascinating. But I do have a bit of an agenda here, which is to try to
figure out whether and how Virtual Worlds can be useful for business enterprises, for virtual
entrepreneurs, for nonprofits, for educational institutions, and will they ever be taken
So I want to close, just really quickly with a news items that was brought to my attention by
Hydra Shaftoe, whom we saw earlier in the show as the eagle. This is a piece from CNN’s
iReport about college students who are talking about not being able to attend classes due to
high gas prices. And so as Hydra mentioned in the backchat in the Metanomics show on
Friday, he says, "One woman just casually mentioned she’s going to some classes in
Second Life." But the focus of the news piece was on gas prices. And Hydra says, “I see
that as real progress.” I want to agree with Hydra wholeheartedly that, really, this is a show
that is about nonprofits today. It is not really about Virtual Worlds, but Virtual Worlds are a
great new tool in the arsenal that you guys have to work with, and I look forward to exploring
more of the challenges and opportunities of enterprises in Virtual Worlds in the next 35
So, Glitter, Randal, thank you so much for coming on Metanomics. And thank you,
everyone, for helping out with your bear avatars.
SUSAN TENBY: Thank you so much. And if you have questions, please go to
nonprofitcommons.org. And, Randy, what’d you say _____ do for you?
RANDAL MOSS: Come over to the American Cancer Society’s island. If you map search
American Cancer Society, you’ll find us. Please participate in Relay For Life, in terms of
coming to team events. Look around in the announcements. There’s all sorts of amazing
things not limited to but including snail races. There’s a lot of fun, and it always is for a good
cause. Also, I would like to say I’m going to try and entreat Metanomics to come and
participate in the Second Life community conference the first week in September, six, seven
and eight, in Tampa, Florida. As far as the virtual school and virtual university, definitely a
topic to talk about there. So thanks again.
SUSAN TENBY: And if you want to know more about the Nonprofit Commons, also, I forgot
to mention that we have open town hall meetings every Friday from 8:30 to 10:00 A.M.
Randy’s been a guest a couple times. We have speakers. We have a community meeting,
and you can kind of just see. If you have questions about what nonprofits are doing in-world,
that’s the best way to find out. It’s at the Nonprofit Commons sim, Nonprofit Commons One
on Plush Island, 8:30 A.M. SLT, on Friday morning.
ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: Okay. Wonderful. Thank you both so much.
Transcribed by: http://www.hiredhand.com
Second Life Avatar: Transcriptionist Writer