First impressions of Clubhouse?

If you’re as late to the party as I always am, see “What Is Clubhouse? The Invite-Only Chat App Explained” (PC Mag). Note that, to ensure that only the insufferable can be heard, this is iPhone-only (preferably with Apple DouchePods in everyone’s ears).

I joined last week. The big rooms are frustrating, like draggy unprepared TED talks. There might be hundreds or thousands of muted listeners, perhaps partly because the app highlights the most popular rooms. Maybe this could be improved with a text chat option so that the muted listeners could chat amongst themselves a bit. This was valuable in our 500-student Zoom class (version of our MIT ground school) back in January. While one teacher was talking, the other could scan the Zoom chat to see if there were open questions that should be answered. There is no way to give a “thumbs up” to a speaker when he/she/ze/they says something interesting or profound.

We have had the most fun in groups that are small enough for everyone to have speaking rights, e.g., 15 people. How can it be better than Zoom? In Zoom you’re expected to sit in one place and not wander out of the camera frame. With Clubhouse you can walk around the house, wander around a city, drive, etc., just as long as you have sufficient data service to support streaming audio (not a given here in the U.S.!).

Maybe the lack of text chat is by design. People on Clubhouse are a lot more measured than on Facebook. A person whose profile photo shows someone who likely identifies as a Black woman said that she didn’t want people with reprehensible, e.g., racist, viewpoints silenced. She didn’t want to drive them underground and even offered that racism was “their truth”. This was in a room full of people interested in astrology (I was invited by a friend whom I met at Burning Man; I told her “I respect astrologers as ‘scientists’ because their predictions are just as accurate as the coronavirus predictions that have been offered by epidemiologists.”)

The enraged statements that are fun to type into Facebook, e.g., regarding the need to imprison Donald Trump and/or his supporters, are apparently not fun to utter as speech.

The app started in Silicon Valley and there are a disproportionate number of discussions regarding living in and/or leaving the Bay Area as well as the mechanics of pitching, funding, exiting startup companies. The same Bay Area folks, who say that they’re the smartest folks on Planet Earth, also are in rooms about “finding love” or “dating” (but they’re old enough to be grandparents). One of their gurus is Logan Ury, whose principal achievement seems to be having landed a husband (but in a world of profitable no-fault divorce, her status could change at any moment under California family law).

One good way to get into Clubhouse seems to be migration as a group. About 10 of us who are part of an aviation chat group on Telegram went in at the same time, for example, and then another 5-10 people who “follow” some of us joined.

Related, the audio community technology favored by University of Florida students in January 2021:

(“The partying never really stopped,” said one gal. “If we lived with our grandparents we would be more concerned about COVID-19. But we don’t interact with anyone who is vulnerable so why should we be afraid?”)

10 thoughts on “First impressions of Clubhouse?

  1. Since I am a poor-but-happy troglodyte who actively resists upgrading his smartphone until it is good and dead, I still talk to people with a Samsung Galaxy 4S. I have replaced the battery and the charging port on that phone, but otherwise I haven’t been able to destroy it yet, despite my barely-opposable thumbs. That’s the one with the automatically retracting string/cup backup system. If someone wanted to lend me their new iPhone 12, I suppose I’d give it a try.

    Just make sure that whatever you do, the next morning you don’t find yourself impressed into the Royal Navy.

  2. “If you’re as late to the party as I always am”

    I just upgraded my 2010 flip-phone to my first (sort of) smartphone – a 2015 LG model inherited from my 82 y/o father. I have a B.S. Computer Science and an MBA with a concentration in MIS and I know nothing about Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or Snap Chat; and I like it that way.

    • @Prole you are not pulling your weight as a consumer! you must give all your data to our technological overlords like all good consumers do!

  3. “How can it be better than Zoom? In Zoom you’re expected to sit in one place and not wander out of the camera frame.” Zoom works well on my mobile. Am I breaking Zoom usage license with moving around with it?

    • I typically Zoom from a PC rather than from a phone because the PC version will show all of the participants in a big grid. The iPhone Zoom app, as far as I have been able to get it to work, shows only 4 people at a time.

    • There is not enough screen real estate on mobile phones to have large grid of all participants. I usually user scroll ticker grid of participants to check participants on my mobile. How did Clubhouse solve large participant grid on small screen problem?

    • Tmx: I gave up Diet Coke when Senior Management was forced to give up wine due to pregnancy, but thanks! If you email me your iPhone number I can invite you (just got three new invite capabilities last night).

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