Linden Lab, the company behind Second Life (the Twitter of 2005), has announced the winners of the inaugural Linden Prize, which honors “Second Life projects that have a tangible impact on the real world.” Unable to choose just one winner, Linden Lab has awarded two $10,000 prizes: to Studio Wikitecture and Virtual Ability. “How do you measure the value of a project? Should making a deep impact on a select group of individuals weigh heavier than making an impact on a large population? Ultimately that wasn’t a question we could answer, so we decided to honor both projects,” said Linden Lab CEO Mark Kingdon in a statement announcing the winners and finalists.
Using a tool that can dynamically track and organize 3-D models, Studio Wikitecture explores how a geographically dispersed design team can simultaneously work on the same architecture or urban planning project. The project recently facilitated the collaborative design of a health clinic in a remote region of Nepal and a virtual classroom at the University of Alabama. While Studio Wikitecture is all about crowdsourcing, Virtual Ability is a non-profit that helps individuals—specifically, people with (real-world) disabilities—through one-on-one courses and resources that help them to…use Second Life. “We also do a lot of dancing,” notes the Virtual Ability website. “We have taken folks to walk in the virtual woods, climb mountains, go virtual skydiving—all kinds of things that are profound and a pleasure to someone with physical or mental limitations. It’s an amazing experience helping someone who will never walk again in real life to jump on a virtual trampoline.” Read about the innovative Second Life projects of all ten Linden Prize finalists here.