The new audio streaming app Clubhouse brings podcasting to the people, making it possible for anyone to host speeches and talks on different subjects. It’s, like other social medias, built on following different people, though everything but audio is let out - despite profile pictures, names and a brief bio. In a way it feels refreshing not being able to write anything directly to anyone, giving you the feeling that this is not yet another messenger.
Here and now
Just having audio streamed makes it entirely about the moment. Nothing is, as we know of, recorded anywhere, so what you do will only exist right when you say it. In that way it’s similar to Skype and our beloved Zoom. Still, not seeing each other calls for a different experience when communicating. It lowers some expectations on appearance and also lets you keep it going in the background while doing other things. So you might wonder why we wouldn’t just call each other? It’s different than that too. A first is that audio quality is quite impressive. Though it might have to do with people using this app in quite locations, for now at least. Practically you don’t call anyone, but make a room where people can join. Even public rooms are possible. When entering a room you can be selected to talk, or more correctly you may be granted the opportunity. So far I’ve seen this being used by artists for connecting with their fans, letting chosen fans ask them questions directly. That way you can talk to strangers without giving them personal information. A nice feature. Other usages are sure to come.
We have soon lived socially distanced for a whole year, and parties are getting rarer and rarer for every week. At times I find myself being socially awkward with the person behind the counter in the grocery store, as it’s like I’ve forgotten what it’s like to talk to strangers in real life. I got an invitation to Clubhouse, clicked it and all of a sudden I was in a room with my friend, who invited me, and other friends she put in the room. Friends of hers, not of mine. Scary. I immediately felt an urge to say something as the room was called ‘Welcome to Henrik’ so I started talking asking about these people and getting to know them. More people entered the room and suddenly it felt like a good old mingling party, but online. It was a strange feeling, but it kind of worked. Here was a room of friends and strangers talking about the weather and good food. Just like in the pre covid world. A nice feeling.
First impressions and reflections on Clubhouse is that this minimalistic and simple approach to communicating and listening to people chat is a thing we could need. It adds a mobile, slightly fresh and organic way of talking together in a world where Zoom is tiring and still quite stationary. It’s fascinating how these simple functions have grown so popular over a vast amount of time, even more fascinating how we see these modernized phone calls as a new and exciting thing. Another element is the “podcast feeling”. Podcasts are popular and have entered the «attention market» as a mighty competitor to music. Quite often I my self prioritize listening to a podcast when I’m strolling the streets, even though I possess a particular passion for music. Not only do we want to listen to podcasts, we also want to make them. So Clubhouse enters as the platform for everyone to host their own live podcasts where they can feel funny for saying mediocre jokes. But I do not mean that as a bad thing. Not at all. Laughing together is important.
Not that MCT - a reflection on segregation
This morning I opened Clubhouse to see what was going on, and I found a room where hip-hop producer Boi-1da was active. The room was about UFOs, so naturally I joined in. I find the subject interesting, but I’m highly source critical towards information given on the field. The room was moderated by Dr. Steve Greer who’s a retired physician and an active ufologist. For what I know, he’s a reliable source to some point, but the point I wanted to point out (point point), is the point that platforms like these could become huge contributors to conspiracy and segregation in our societies. And as much as we have experienced so far in 2021, segregation and division is not what the world needs right now. We can’t expect everyone to check references on everything that’s being said on a platform like Clubhouse, and we already know that people read fake Facebook feeds as real news. So could this contribute to utterly threaten democracy by giving us, the people, more rabbit holes to dig ourselves deep in? I’m probably overestimating the power of Clubhouse, but I still think it’s something we should take into consideration when offering people the opportunity to say whatever to whoever. To make this section slightly MCT Blog friendly I will end on stating that we have to make sure that audio streaming applications help to make the world a better place.
We know that this can be used for talking, but then comes the question: will it music? I wasn’t expecting latency to be better than any other wireless connection. And it wasn’t. Luckily I guess, as it would be so typical that a new social media platform was the one to get zero latency going for everyone. So the question of will it music remains the same as with the other streaming platforms - not for rhythmic music, “great” for experimental and ambient.