The first ever Linden Lab Innovation Award winners were announced today in conjunction with SLCC. This year’s awards focused on open source contributors who are making the Second Life experience better for everyone. Speaking to the SLCC audience in Chicago and in-world, Rob Linden described a community of talented and dedicated open source contributors, and he gave his warmest thanks to all who are helping to make open source Second Life a success. Read on to see the notes from his speech and the names of the 5 winners of what we fondly call the Hippo Awards. If you see these exceptional people in-world, don’t hesitate to let them know you appreciate their hard work as much as we do.
– – – – –
Rob Linden’s award announcement:
Thanks everyone for being here. Today, we’re presenting the Linden Lab Innovation Awards, a.k.a. “the Hippos”. These awards recognize excellence in developing the Second Life platform and community.
I’m really happy to be presenting these awards this year. When we were planning to release the source code, we knew we had a robust community of developers, and that there would be plenty of interest in tinkering, but we were still thinking we’d have to figure out some gimmicks to get people to really start participating in building a great Viewer. Once we launched, we immediately started getting great contributions, and realized that instead of focusing on gimmicks to preemptively motivate, we should instead shift our efforts to thanking people for what they had done without any expectation of reward.
This year’s Awards are a “beta” of sorts. We’ve never done anything like this, and this type of activity is always fraught with peril. We don’t want to leave anyone out; lots of people have made small contributions here and there, and those contributions really add up. But we also don’t want to let that fear paralyze us from recognizing those people who have contributed some great stuff this year. While we may not be confident that we’ve recognized everyone we should, we’re quite confident that this year’s winners richly deserve recognition for their contribution.
We’re presenting in five categories this year:
* Best Community Organizer
* Best Bug Hunter
* Best Contribution
* Best Feature
* Contributor of the Year
So, with that, let’s get started.
Best Community Organizer
This is a category to recognize non-code contribution. We were looking for someone who figures out how to be really helpful without getting hung up on just the code. This year’s winner has been a force to be reckoned with on the open source wiki. A large portion of the new LSL section has the winner’s fingerprints on it somewhere. Additionally, there’s been a ton of work in the issue tracker and in all sorts of nooks and crannies.
This year’s winner is Strife Onizuka.
Best Bug Hunter
We wanted to have a category for those who are masters of wrangling the issue tracker. It’s not good enough to just drop issues into JIRA; this person pursues them, finding the issues with the deepest impact on quality. The winner this year did exactly this. Not only did he file many bugs in JIRA, but more importantly, he helped resolve issues in JIRA, weeding out the issues that didn’t have enough information to be useful so that the important issues would stand out. While actually going in and fixing issues isn’t really the point of this award, it turns out that he’s also been very good at that, too.
This year’s winner is Gigs Taggart.
From almost the instant we published the source code for the viewer, the winner in this category has been tirelessly working to make the Viewer work for languages other than English. Quoting from the nomination, this was “for the [three] patches to enable entry of unicode/DBCS characters in the viewer. These were well executed, addressed a problem for a huge audience, were quite extensive and went in without subsequent problems.” I couldn’t have said it better myself.
The winner of Best Contribution goes to Alissa Sabre.
In this next category, I think everyone may be envisioning the Second Life equivalent of flying cars and jetpacks. But, since we already had those before we open sourced the viewer, we had to dig deeper. This new feature might be really hard to explain the significance of to someone who’s not a heavy user of Second Life, but it’s still really important and useful. There used to be a sort of social engineering attack that was possible by slamming a whole lot of notices in a residents face, and burying a Linden Dollar transfer into the middle of it.
The winner in this category recognized this problem, and came up with a simple and elegant solution. Not only did we like the feature, we also liked the way that it was implemented. He started a discussion on the sldev mailing list, solicited suggestions, incorporated the feedback, and submitted something that was a stronger submission as a result.
The award for “Best Feature” goes to Able Whitman.
Before we get to the final category, we’d like to make some additional acknowledgments. As we started accepting nominations for these awards, it became clear to us that we were missing categories. There were people that we thought really deserved recognition, but that didn’t neatly fit into the categories we chose for this year. We’d like to thank a few people, and get people thinking about new categories for next year.
We’d like to thank SignpostMarv Martin, for his prolific contribution to the Second Life Wiki, and for boundless energy in many other Second Life endeavors. The wiki is going to be an increasingly important place for Linden Lab to collaborate.
Lex Neva and Celierra Darling
Ceilarra Daring for important work in commenting on JIRA issues and figuring out what matters.
Katharine Berry has done amazing work with AjaxLife. This is a web-only service that allows access to Second Life using only a web browser. While we can’t encourage you to use the hosted version (since your password passes through Berry’s site), the code is available, and you can host your own version. It’s made us put on our thinking caps to figure out how to make it possible for sites like this to exist in a secure manner. While not based on our open source viewer, it’s amazingly cool and innovative work.
Finally, we’d like to acknowledge Jesse Malthus. Jesse was a long time contributor to libsl, and later OpenSim, and had a strong interest in viewer development. Jesse was omnipresent on IRC and a regular at open source meetings, and was always a pleasant and positive influence. Jesse seemed to always stay above the fray, and when a heated debate was running amok, would interject a humorous comment to diffuse the situation.
In April we all were shocked and saddened to learn that Jesse was killed in a car accident. Jesse Higginbotham was attending high school in Lexington, Kentucky, an active member of many clubs and organizations, and a volunteer for Living Arts and Science Center and the local Habitat for Humanity chapter. From a distance it was obvious that Jesse was as warm and kind in real life as he was in Second Life, and that the community in Lexington also realized what a huge loss this was for the world. A non-profit has been set up in his name to bring technology to young people who might otherwise not be able to afford it.
As a relative latecomer to Second Life, I wish I had gotten the chance to know Jesse better, and I’m glad I at least got the chance to be around him for a little while. It was so obvious from the stunned and saddened reaction of this corner of the Second Life community that he was such a key part of it. When it came time to honor those that contributed, his name came up often in the nominations.
We realized after the fact that we didn’t have a category that really captured what Jesse brought to the community. We imagine we’ll be adding some new categories next year as the community evolves, but we’re sure of one that’s needed. Next year, we’d like to have a category to honor those that make the best social contribution; those who make the community more enjoyable by their presence. Life is too short to waste not having fun, and we want to recognize people who make the world better by making our corner of it a little more livable. So, we’d like to announce that next year we’ll have the “Best Community Influence” award in honor of Jesse.
Contributor of the Year
And now, the Contributor of the Year. This is the model citizen, who not only contributes something useful, but goes above and beyond to contribute something really necessary. This year’s winner stormed onto the scene in May, and has been a consistent contributor of patches ever since then. He has found several stubborn memory leaks and bugs that potentially crash the viewer. He’s been a fierce critic of Linden Lab at times, but has backed up his rhetoric with running code. We respect and appreciate that.
So, the winner of the 2007 Contributor of the Year goes to Nicholaz Beresford.
Thanks everyone for coming. See you on the mailing list!
– – – – –
I’ll heap my congratulations on top of Rob’s, and say a sincere thanks not only to the winners but to all of this year’s nominees and everyone who has submitted, reproduced, or commented on a bug in the JIRA issue tracker. Open source Second Life has a long way to go, and we won’t be successful without the varied talents and energy of the contributor community. If you have questions about open source or want to get involved, please visit our new community headquarters on Hippotropolis island.
Thanks also to the SLCC organizers and Phreak Radio for making our mixed-reality awards presentation available in Chicago and across the grid.