Friday, June 22, 2007

Virtual Philanthropy

I shouldn't be surprised that the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation is starting to make grants (the NY Times may want you to register to see this) in the Web 2.0 space. After all, I first got involved in the Internet back in the day because the radio show I worked for needed grant money and foundations were far more interested in the Internet than in long-form documentary.

But, wow, half a million dollars to do "stuff" in Second Life is pretty amazing.

The more time I spend in the 'net, the more profound the effect I think it is having on certain groups of people, particularly the young. It is a sign that I'm getting old that I spent a lot of time saying, "Pooh-pooh, these are just websites. We all thought the Internet was going to change the world of journalism and communication back in 1994, and here we all are still watching TV." And we are, but the yoot are also multitasking like mad whilst doing it, and doing it all on a computery device instead of a televisiony device.

I don't know what it all means, and I'm still trying to get it all to gel in my brain. But something's happening and it's big. And it's not just about digital Bedouins making increasingly swank Flash menus and people talking about happiness at TED. People are interacting with each other and with the world (and the "world") around them in new and strange ways.

Lots to think about.

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