Karl Stiefvater, a 3D graphics developer known in Second Life as Qarl Linden, has been unexpectedly fired from Linden Lab for reasons reportedly inexplicable to him. Qarl was a leading force behind Second Life sculpties, a groundbreaking building method, and more recently, COLLADA-compatible meshes, a feature currently in closed Beta. Meshes were promised to come to Second Life proper this quarter, but with Karl gone from Linden Lab, it's unclear what that status is. More tragic than that, as Karl explains on his blog, he's a passionate believer in Second Life:
i really do love second life. SL is the coolest thing on the planet - the world we’ve all built is literally incredible - beyond belief.
In my observation, this sense of Second Life is a rare one among Linden coders, which you can even discern by the whimsical avatar he chose, an artist's dummy. Also rare among Lindens is his professional background: Karl helped create digital effects for 300, and had an even deeper hand in the visual effects for the last two Matrix movies. Have a look at Karl Stiefvater's demo reel, featuring a key scene where the system's heartless machinery tries to squash the last vestiges of humanity left within it:
When Second Life founder Philip Rosedale saw the first Matrix, he reportedly left the theater glum, saying, "But that's what I wanted to make." It's therefore a glum irony that the only person at Linden Lab who actually helped make The Matrix is no longer around to help Philip make Second Life.