What's good and what's bad in ClubHouse
Seven things are good and bad in ClubHouse (but one is half false).
Clubhouse is an invitation-only audio chat app, that has been called “the first AirPods social network”: users come in and out of temporary chat rooms, split between speakers and listeners, with the possibility for each user to play both roles.
I explain why I will not use ClubHouse personally, and what I think is the real problem with anything like ClubHouse in a follow-up post. Regardless of my position, however, ClubHouse is significant (in both good and bad ways). This post helps you understand why as quickly as possible, through a selection of curated quotes from the following sources, which I invite you to read directly:
- The Meaning of Clubhouse vs. Taylor Lorenz
- The Clubhouse App and the Rise of Oral Psychodynamics
- Clubhouse’s Inevitability
- Blood on the virtual street at Clubhouse
- Clubhouse Discourse Isn’t Recorded. That Upsets Some Journalists
Here are, in no particular order, the…
Seven things that are good and bad in ClubHouse:
Live Audio is transformative, and brings us Back to the Future
“The “only on the Internet” feature that makes Clubhouse transformational [is] the fact that it is live. In many mediums this feature would be fatal [but] the fact that audio can be consumed while you are doing something else allows the immediacy and vibrancy of live conversation to shine.”
Historically, it is our current “written/print culture that’s the recent… anomaly, and still a minority of the world…Clubhouse [re-]opens the door to a lot more oral culture”.
The specific techniques (audio, images, video, writing…) used to remember and share knowledge do not necessarily destroy culture, or memory. However, they greatly “affected what we can know, learn and advance”.
The written word is just one “way of thinking and knowing and holding power [while] oral culture depends on the physical characteristics of orality (ephemerality, interpersonal nature) which we can and do change with technology”.
ClubHouse is one more attack to traditional media and cultural gurus
“Insofar as the Clubhouse app allows for private belief formation among high-status individuals, while also distributing those beliefs semi-publicly in real time, it’s hard to overstate the threat that Clubhouse poses to institutional opinion leaders.”
“It’s not just that Clubhouse allows canceled people to exist and talk, what’s most significant is the influence math.” If one can listen directly to someone mislabeled by mainstream media, “the only possible result is that [one’s] respect for the [same media] decreases drastically.”
If the ClubHouse model succeeds, “journalists are no longer able to confidently estimate what exactly high-status people think at any given moment.”
ClubHouse is not monitorable
“On Clubhouse… there are no screenshots. There is no way to drag up old Clubhouse posts years later like a user might do on Twitter. There is no way to record conversations… to prove that someone said anything controversial at all. There’s no path to accountability.”
“The lack of these features will surely produce barriers for fact-checkers. It will be not only hard to choose what club to join but Clubhouse also requires that fact-checkers listen to hours and hours of conversations before selecting what claims should be assessed.”
Clubhouse bypasses, and may thus end, Cancel Culture
” you easily encounter a bunch of previously canceled people—unable to tell their story anywhere else—not only telling their story, but to diverse interlocutors who both listen honestly and challenge aggressively. It’s frankly amazing, given the current wave of hypermoralism that started suffocating public intellectual culture since about 2013.”
“[ClubHouse is] also a personalized existential threat to individuals whose claim to prestige is based almost exclusively on a social-justice-based personal brand”
ClubHouse is a cesspool
A recent, much discussed attack by the moderators of a ClubHouse room on one of the participants, is an objective lesson “in the naïveté of that strand of optimistic rationalism that continues to imagine that all we need do in order to foster social harmony is just talk to one another….There is no ‘constructive dialogue’ under those conditions, and the outcome is as brutal and futile as you’d expect: a kind of toxic anti-conversation. There is also no avoiding these situations except via social gatekeeping.”
ClubHouse will create more eco chambers, because it HAS to
“The key [to succeed] for Clubhouse will be in honing its algorithms so that every time a listener opens the app they are presented with a conversation that is interesting to them”.
ClubHouse is a breath of fresh air
“For those old enough to remember when unrecorded conversations about culture and politics were normal, let alone preferable to the social media hellscape we have today, this attitude is jarring.”
“Users on Clubhouse know, or at least believe, that they can openly speak their mind with zero repercussions.”
“[Real, direct,] Meaningful conversations are also powerful enough to change minds and touch hearts. Good luck doing that with Twitter’s 280-character limit.”
To know why I won’t join ClubHouse, and what is the real problem with it, continue here.