First it was Facebook, then it was Instagram, Snapchat and the latest one was TikTok. Social media platforms have been popping up right, left and center for the past decade and with every new “unicorn”, we keep asking ourselves, “what’s the next big thing?” Well, the next big thing has a name and its name is Clubhouse. Let’s find out what Clubhouse is, what it does, and why it has taken the world by storm.
What Is Clubhouse & How Does It Work?
Clubhouse is an audio only app consisting of virtual conference calls where you can listen to Elon Musk talking about aliens and humans living on Mars, Mark Zuckerberg talking about AR and VR or Malcolm Gladwell speaking about Adam Grant’s new book “Think Again”. The app is LinkedIn meets live podcasting, meets TedX Talks, finding a sweet spot and a niche many tech conglomerates search for years to find.
This might not sound like much when you first hear it but this is where brilliance usually resides: in simplicity. People can eavesdrop on some of the greatest minds of humankind chat about things. It’s informal, informational, fun and does carry a sense of exclusivity.
Much like real-life, brick and mortar clubhouses, the app is invite-only, meaning that an existing Clubhouse user has to send an invite from their app in order to join the Clubhouse bandwagon. It’s interesting to note that the frenzy for joining the app has already created a secondary market for passes on eBay where you can buy a pass for $89 according to The New York Times.
While almost all social media platforms and apps thrive on the usage of the masses and the power of numbers, Clubhouse chose a different approach, banking on the feeling of exclusivity.
Once you are in, you find rooms that hold discussions about different topics. These rooms are composed of moderators, speakers and listeners. The setting and role allocation is no different to a Zoom conference call. The person who owns the meeting, the room and the discussion can appoint moderators who can in turn approve or reject questions, comments and points by the listeners. The moderator is also able to give listeners the chance to talk and share their opinions with the rest of the room.
Where Is The Appeal? Why Do People Like It That Much?
There’s quite a few things that contribute to Clubhouse’s rise to prominence. First, the allure of listening in to conversations from some of the brightest minds to grace this earth is powerful. It’s not everyday you get to listen to Elon Musk talk live.
Then it’s the medium itself. Podcasts have enjoyed such huge success because of their accessibility. You can listen to them in the car, on a run, while you do the dishes or before you sleep. It’s a medium that doesn’t tie you to the sofa, allowing you to get things done while you enjoy it. Clubhouse does the exact same thing.
Then, you have timing. Clubhouse was born and is being raised in one of the most challenging times of humankind: the Coronavirus pandemic. At a time where human interaction comes at a premium, Clubhouse has created another avenue of human interaction, a digital space where you don’t type, look at pictures or spend endless hours scrolling, but a place where your voice can literally be heard.
There’s a lot to be excited about when it comes to Clubhouse, but the most important question to ask here is whether this is a trend or a new tech direction.
What Does Clubhouse Mean For Technology? Is This The Future Of Media Platforms?
Is Clubhouse something that will define tech going forward or is it simply a glorified version of the good old radio? The answer is not as clear as one might think. Clubhouse can undoubtedly hit a vein in our current society and we can’t really dismiss that.
What’s more interesting to note is that Facebook and Twitter have jumped on the audio-only craze, reportedly building their own proprietary platforms trying to replicate the Clubhouse success.
While audio-only has a long list of pros, there are those who have expressed their worries about the app and the new trend. You don’t have to take too many guesses to find what those worries and objections are about as once again, private data, privacy and the sharing of information is at the forefront of the discussion.
While the app does not allow the recording of what has been said in these rooms and deletes the content from itservers, several conversations have been leaked and rebroadcast. To put it simply “Yes, you should 100% assume your words will go public,” as per a Clubhouse user told NPR.
Last, but not least comes the issue of misinformation, racism, bullying and all the other negative attributes associated with social media platforms and free speech. Is there a way to police the content? Are there checks and balances of what’s being said? One of the most notable incidents the young app has experienced is when comedian Tiffany Haddish, podcast host/rapper Joe Budden and entrepreneur/wellness advocate Chakabars Clarke were involved in a coronavirus misinformation incident, allegedly cyberbullying a doctor on a Clubhouse Room.
The app is still young and only time will show if it’s going to enjoy the laurels of Instagram and Facebook or the short-lived success of Vine. One thing you can count on is that we will be here to make report on it.