one of the things that philip rosedale (our founder) was very much into was the idea of emergent social structures. second life is many things, and i'm pretty sure it's role as a test tube for experimental emergent social structures of vibrant, quirky and insanely brilliant people was intentional.
one of the tools we have internally is the "love machine." philip described it thusly in the interview at inc.com:
"The Love Machine allows anyone who works here as a Linden employee to send anyone else a brief note that says "Thank you for doing this for me." There is a little webpage where you can go to send an e-mail, and then you get a little e-mail that says "Love From Philip" in the subject and it's got text in it. Now, you think, what's the big deal about that? Well, all of that stuff goes into a database. Your review carries that. Everybody is sending love to each other. It creates a positive collaborative environment." --from "How I Did It: Philip Rosedale, CEO, Linden Lab"
there's no requirement to send love to your co-workers, but you can't opt out of the system. if someone wants to send you love, then dang nabbit, it's love you'll get. once you get a few bits of love, it's pretty easy to see what it's all about. if you do something good for someone, they send you love. you get small bits of encouragement that your work has impact in the company. and the little things add up over time...
"love" also serves to smooth the rough edges of sometimes stressful interpersonal communication. more than once i've been involved in animated technical discussions. from the outside they might look like work-related arguments. if you've been on the receiving end of critique of your ideas by technically brilliant people you respect, you know it can be emotionally draining. but anyone who's worked in tech knows that eventually, confrontations occur. i've found that intense discussions are more palatable when you trust that there's respect for the person, even when the person's ideas are taking flak. sending love is one of the ways we remind people internally that, "yes. even though i waved my arms in the discussion, it was still a valuable discussion, and i respect YOU." so the love machine is sometimes used as a salve for bruised egos.
but "love" in this context doesn't need a tool. you can send love via email, SMS, facebook or twitter. i use twitter a lot lately, which is why you'll frequently see me tweet things like "LOVE @soandso for something or other". this is my way of sending love via twitter.
give it a try sometime. send love to someone who's done right by you. it might just brighten someone's day.