Studio Wikitecture, Virtual Ability Win Real Life Prize for Second Life Projects

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.