Close up young beautiful asian woman using smartphone for video chat with friends or online … [+]
I wasn’t sure what to expect when I got to Clubhouse.
The new “drop-in audio app” has appeared a few times in my own Facebook group and with friends and colleagues. It hasn’t really gone mainstream yet – I mentioned it to some friends and someone thought I was talking about the Disney brand.
This could change soon. Around 600,000 people have recently registered and interest seems to be gaining momentum.
The idea reminds me of Marco Polo. Once you have registered for the iPhone app, you can take part in an audio conference. Groups of people chat with some moderators. To speak, raise your hand and wait for an invitation. No video, no text chat – it’s just audio for now. Also no Android, no browser windows and no desktop version.
Clubhouse obviously scanned my Twitter profile to see that I was writing (or at least got my guesswork right) a book, and within minutes I was listening to experts talking about new writers launching landing pages and email newsletters .
With social media running in milliseconds, I asked on my Twitter feed if anyone would follow me and a few dozen replied. Then a colleague started an audio chat about media work and the things that blossomed from there. I’ve heard half a dozen chats now. Later I opened my own “room” with PR representatives and a co-moderator and talked about ideas for stories. It was interactive, fun, and rewarding. Ecommerce expert Akemi Sue Fisher told me she had grown her following to 23,000 people in 23 days. The entrepreneur Alexa Carlin lured 3,000 people into her room in just one week.
The app is a bit trifecta in my opinion.
First, it’s brand new. I first heard about it back in May when it only had a few thousand users, but now that it hits the pop, the conferences are well attended and well worth the time. Second, we need new ways to network and connect. You can view icons for all participants in the conference, follow them, and interact even during the conference. Third, it is about seeking advice. Most of us are still in an odd state of workplace development and aiming for long-term remote work from home. New apps pull us out of our boring routine. Networking is also a huge need.
It is also helpful that you can learn something new. The clubhouse is like an interactive podcast or a call-in radio broadcast. As with the previously mentioned Marco Polo app, there is a paradigm shift for networking in the digital area.
I have a new term for it: passive interaction.
What it means is that since many of us are busy leading asynchronous lives in remote offices, the rise of passive interaction means we can still interact, but only when we really want to, and only when we have the time to have. I was able to attend some audio conferencing without registering and clicking a link without even asking to attend. I was able to get out of the chat, so I was a passive listener – and yet it’s not a webinar. I could have meddled and interacted (by raising my hand) on my own timeframe as well.
This immediacy (everything is live) and passivity (I can only listen and not interact) go well with remote work, as we already don’t stick to normal schedules. Sometimes it feels like I’m in a parked car and driving in the fast lane at the same time. I am parked because I can step away from my computer and walk the dog, have coffee, or even leave my house. However, these digital inputs and constant signaling arrive almost every minute of the day.
Experts say the human brain is not designed for that much input. In particular, Cal Newport found that the brain is wired to be social and interconnected, but also to be intensely focused on things. We’re not chipmunks. With apps like Clubhouse, which encourage passive interaction, you always feel like you’ve pressed the pause button. (Zoom fatigue occurs when we can’t take a break, or when we at least feel stupid.) We can be social, or passive, or drop out altogether.
Will the app continue to attract the crowds? I’m not sure.
Ruby Media Group’s social media expert Kristen Ruby told me she’s attended conferences where hosts prioritize those with high followers and bias. “The barrier to entry for moderating a room is significantly lower than for a regular conference call,” she said. “This means that individuals may be responsible for moderating large groups of people when in fact they may not have formal moderator training.”
I have found some conferences where the “talking heads” kept talking. I was wondering whether the app is intended for extroverts and not always for the sharp exchange of ideas. For every room that seemed helpful and interactive, there was a room where I felt like I was just listening to other people chatting. (Clubhouse does not provide contact information for the app or a media representative to ask questions about these issues. In this case, I’ll add comments as needed.)
Since I’m late for the clubhouse party, I’ll have to spend more time poking around. Does anyone know a good audio conference for people who like books, disc golf, and social media? I will be looking for all of these soon.
Would you like to chat in the clubhouse? Find me under username: jmbrandonbb
Do you need an invitation to the clubhouse? Post on my twitter feed and I’ll try to find you.