I am very much in love with both my two favorite virtual meeting technologies: Second Life, partly cloned by the open source OpenSim, and Teleplace, recently open sourced as OpenQwaq. In the pictures, two recent online conferences in Second Life and Teleplace.
I love both, but most VR users tend to strongly prefer one. I am interested in "serious" applications to, for example, online talks and e-learning (no value judgment intended, and please see "Telepresence Education for a Smarter World" for more), and I like both.
The Teleplace / OpenQwaq technology, on which my teleXLR8 online talk program and "telepresence community for cultural acceleration" is based, has much better built-in voice and support for multi user collaboration, document sharing and webcam videoconferencing, all very important features for "serious" applications, but those who prefer Second Life may find it too aseptic and square.
The Second Life / OpenSim technology, much closer to (and directly inspired by) the Metaverse of Snow Crash, has a certain built-in playfulness which is also very important (more important than I used to think) for "serious" applications, and is much more appealing to persons with strong artistic sensibilities, but those who prefer Teleplace may find its more, um, extreme aspects too annoying and distracting.
As I said, I like both. The "conflict" is mostly cultural and psychological, and I have no doubts that both technologies, especially in their open source versions, can easily support both work and play in both square and creative modes. For example, I have prototyped simple examples of videoconferencing and collaborative document sharing in Second Life, and OpenQwaq can import very creative 3D models and avatars.
Open ended, comments welcome.