Linden Lab Innovation Awards

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This article is obsolete, but kept as a historical record. Do not rely on this information in any way. However, it may be used in the future, so please do not delete or modify.

The annual Linden Lab Innovation Awards -- aka the Hippo Awards -- acknowledge excellence in developing the Second Life platform. The awards highlight open source community members who have made the biggest impact on the quality and advancement of the Second Life Viewer and the Second Life experience for all.

Why the Hippo? The hippopotamus has long been a kind of unofficial mascot of Second Life. When the Viewer source code was first published in January 2007, the open source community quickly discovered the llhippo.cpp easter egg and claimed the humble hippo as it's own.

2008 Hippo Award Winners Announced

We're pleased to announce the winners of the second annual Linden Lab Innovation Awards, known as "the Hippos," which honor the exceptional and varied work done by open source community members. Rob Linden presented the awards at a mixed reality event linking an inworld gathering of nominees with an SLCC audience present in Tampa, FL, or tuning in via audio stream. The official announcement of winners is on the SL blog, and the full text of Rob's presentation is below.

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Hi everybody, and welcome. I'm Rob Lanphier, known in-world as Rob Linden. I'm the open source busybody for Linden Lab.

This year was quite a year. We continued to see broad participation in the initiative, with the main developer mailing list swelling to well over 800 participants, scores of patches despite many disruptive changes in the way we build our software, and an issue tracker with thousands of participants. To give you a sense of the crazy amount of activity we see on the issue tracker: there's a mailing list that picks up on every action in the tracker that a few brave souls are subscribed to, and that list frequently generates hundreds of messages in a day, largely based on resident comments and issue actions.

This year, researchers embraced the viewer, creating a lot of interesting prototypes. A couple examples are the University of Michigan patch for viewing Second Life in 3D through 3D goggles, and the experimental work that Keio University Biomedical Engineering Laboratory did to create an interface that works directly with the brain. Based on the inquiries we've seen, this is only the beginning.

Shortly after SLCC last year, we launched the Second Life Grid Architecture Working Group (AWG). The group attracted a lot of interest from around the community and was able to get working on specifications for having a much more open and scalable grid architecture. Earlier this year, we collectively demonstrated an avatar teleporting from a Second Life region and an OpenSim region hosted at IBM, and Linden Lab rolled out a program for allowing interested developers to test regions they host with the new protocols and infrastructure. Great tools like PyOGP are being built by everyone in the community to take advantage of these new protocols. We believe that by next year, the transformation of the Second Life landscape started by AWG will be well underway.

OpenSim built quite a bit of buzz over the past year, expanding the ecosystem of technology built to work with Second Life technology. As this ecosystem expands, there will be greater and greater opportunities for entrepreneurs, researchers, and tinkerers to build better and better tools that work within this ecosystem, creating greater value for everyone participating in it.

We participated in Google Summer of Code this year, where Google generously funds interns to work on open source projects such as ours. Resident Celierra Darling participated in this program, and did a phenomenal job working with Runitai Linden on some visually stunning enhancements to the way the viewer handles lighting and shadows.

Now a little bit about the Hippos and how we picked them. There were six judges who poured through the list of nominations, teasing out the noteworthiness of each contributor, and subjectively rated them both for impact and positive influence. We then got together as a group, and spent several hours discussing our ratings. We all came away awed at the breadth of contribution, and how it was pretty much impossible for any single one of us to have a holistic perspective, and even as a team we felt we were just scratching the surface. Today's list of winners includes only a small portion of what is fantastic about our community. While we're not sure we've recognized everyone we could, we're very confident that we should give special recognition to these individuals.

Best Documentation

The first category is Best Documentation. In this category, we wanted to find someone who contributed lots of great documentation, and helped build a community of fellow writers in a helpful and friendly way. With all those qualifiers, it was still had a tough time deciding, because this is one of many areas where a lot of people do a lot of great work.

Gellen Glenelg deserves honorable mention for refining issues in the issue tracker, doing a great job of documenting bug repro steps and providing technical insight.

Last year's winner, Strife Onizuka, continued to be insanely prolific, with thousands of edits over the past year. The degree to which he has bent MediaWiki to his will to make the templates that underlie hundreds of pages are as impressive as they are arcane. Anyone learning LSL is almost certainly indebted to Strife's work in some way.

Similarly, SignpostMarv Martin continues to be omnipresent, with ample use of templates and championing better tools for editors to use. Our winners this year are building on the shoulders of giants.

Looking through the nominations, we decided we needed to force ourselves out of our comfort zone and look beyond the English-speaking parts of the world that our judges occupy. The direction was hinted at by runner-up Catherine Pfeffer, who herself had an impressive array of contributions, serving as an outstanding facilitator for translations of our English content into French. Her contribution was great and noteworthy, serving as a bridge between English writers and writers in other languages.

After voting and revoting and convincing ourselves we weren't copping out, we had to declare a tie. One of the winners tirelessly translated hundreds of pages into Japanese on the wiki, expanding the universe of Second Life residents, builders, and contributors in the process. The other was equally impressive with French translations. The work that these two residents have done has greatly expanded the reach of the ecosystem. Please join me in congratulating the 2008 Winners for Best Documentation: Asuka Neely and Gally Young.

Best Organizer

Our next category is Best Community Organizer. This is another category with two winners, but for different reasons.

Best Issue Tracker Organizer

We realized that organizing our issue tracker, aka “PJIRA” is practically a category in its own right, and found that we were kicking ourselves for not explicitly calling that out as its own category. We had several really worthy contributors in this area. Ellla McMahon does great work getting others to clarify what it is they really are filing, as does Lex Neva. WarKirby Magojiro steps in quite frequently on technical issues that other contributors would have a tough time with. However, we found that our winner could not be beat in raw, productive obsessive compulsive organizing. Please help me congratulate the 2008 Hippo winner for Best Issue Tracking Organization: Harleen Gretzky.

Best Working Group Organization

We also felt that working group organization was also a very important asset to the community, and we have an embarrassment of riches here, too. Zha Ewry has been a great organizing force in AWG, and even those of us that are mostly lurkers know that Saijanai Kuhn is always there to let everyone know that there's another meeting of the AWGroupies or some other meeting. Our winner in the category has been not only a good organizer, but a blog author and an implementor. After the first meeting of the AWG, despite not being there in person like many people, he wrote what was probably the best summary of the meeting and what was discussed, which educated a lot of people about what AWG is about. He also has been instrumental in the creation of the PyOGP reference implementation for the open grid protocol. Congratulations, Tao Takashi, 2008 Hippo Winner for Best Working Group Organization.

Best Code Contribution

Our next category is "Best Code Contribution". For this category, we were looking for the best feature or other code contribution. At first, we looked more closely at utility, but we also looked at how it was contributed. Runner up McCabe Maxstead's "classic" skin for the 1.20 release proved to be a quite fortuitous submission, and is front and center with the latest viewer releases. Runner-up Seg Baphomet's contribution of OpenAL is a great contribution, too, which will likely make it into the mainline viewer sooner rather than later (and this is not even close to Seg's only contribution). We really struggled to make a decision, because we had a lot of great work that was presented to us. In the end, though, we felt we had to recognize the work of the winner in this category, who did a great job of submitting a feature that is of great utility to the passionate and significant machinima community in Second Life, but also did the work in a tidy and thoughtful way. The 2008 Best Code Contribution Hippo Award goes to Mm Alder, for his contribution of the voice lipsync feature.

The Jesse Malthus Award for Best Community Influence

The next award is named after Jesse Malthus, an early contributor and attendee of many in-world meetings about the Second Life open source initiative. Jesse was always a cheerful and positive influence in-world, and helped make things interesting and fun. In a sad and awful turn of events, Jesse was killed in a car accident at a very early age. News of Jesse's death last year really shook a lot of us up, and we felt it important to honor his early influence in the community. We realized that he was our "Best Community Influence", we created the category in his name.

This year, the winner is a formidable presence on PJIRA. While possibly not the most prolific (emphasis on "possibly"), this resident often comments on very contentious issues in a constructive and thoughtful way. PJIRA would be a lot less organized and friendly place to be without the winner in this category, so it's with great pleasure that I announce this year's winner of the Jesse Malthus Award for Best Community Influence: Lex Neva.

Contributor of the Year

Now it's time for our final category: the big one: Contributor of the Year. We had so many good choices to pick from here. Whoops Babii has tirelessly worked on the Solaris version of the Second Life viewer, submitting patches that end up being helpful for users of other 64-bit platforms. Carjay McGinnis cheerfully does a lot of great fit and finish work in the viewer. Alissa Sabre continues to tirelessly contribute great fixes that benefit translated versions of the viewer (especially Japanese). Gigs Taggart has contributed in countless ways in patches, on PJIRA and generally in the community. Our work as judges would have been much tougher without Gigs' website.

While we would have liked to make everyone a winner, we had to pick one. Our winner this year has contributed her fair share of patches, working with us to make sure that our transition to CMake is a smooth one. Many patches have helped get the Linux version of the viewer much closer to parity with the other platform versions. All of this is done with a cheerful and constructive attitude that attracts others to the project. It's with great pleasure that I announce the 2008 Contributor of the Year is Michelle2 Zenovka.


This year's winners will receive

  • Cash gifts to their Second Life accounts (Contributor of the Year receives US$500, other category winners each receive US$300)
  • 2008 Hippo Winner badge
  • Complimentary land grant on Linden Lab's open source island Hippotropolis for one year
  • Complimentary concierge-level service for one year
  • Custom last name for a new avatar
  • Hippopotamus figurine ... with a sterling silver Second Life Eye-in-Hand logo necklace.

Linden Lab thanks these contributors and everyone who has chipped in to help make this a fun and productive community to be a part of. While the winners and runners-up I mentioned above are a key component to the success so far, it wouldn't be as great as having all of you there. Thanks everyone for coming, and I hope to be giving one of these to you next year (whoever you are).


Past Announcements

2008 Call for Nominations on the blog.

In August of 2007, Linden Lab announced the first Hippo Award honorees: Nicholaz Beresford, Alissa Sabre, Able Whitman, Gigs Taggart and Strife Onizuka.

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The LINDEN LAB INNOVATION AWARDS are for entertainment purposes only and have no monetary or other value. LINDEN LAB, LINDEN RESEARCH, and SECOND LIFE are trademarks or registered trademarks of Linden Research, Inc.