Understanding new social media is a *sociological* exercise, not a logical one.
Trust me, I tried to make the Clubhouse bear case.
- Clubhouse is exclusive. You have hoops to jump and gates to open every step of the way. It's iOS only. Invite only. Requires your phone number for no goddamn reason. And once you're through all of that you gain the privilege of being in the voiceless audience hoping senpai will notice your raised hand and puffed up bio.
- Clubhouse is ephemeral. Conversations aren't recorded. Your work doesn't compound and isn't searchable. This is horrible for ROI on your time as a content creator.
- Clubhouse is live-only. If all the convos are happening in Pacific Time and you live in Europe, tough luck. If you came in halfway and have no idea what was said, tough luck. The only way to be fully involved is to turn on mobile notifications and track scheduled chats. Causing more — not less — distraction and work for you.
- Clubhouse enhances existing privilege. Because automated recommendations aren't possible, Clubhouse mostly relies on a Twitter-like follow graph. To gain a following you mostly already have to be famous off-platform or well-connected to people who will bring you up on stage ("second-degree famous"). Choosing a Status as a Service model (Twitter) over a Sorting Hat model (TikTok) sacrifices discovery for establishment.
- Clubhouse is a terrible listening experience. There's no audience chat or polling. Obnoxious speakers can dominate the conversation. Trolls and harassment abound. You can't play at 2x or rewind an important part. Podcasts were trending towards better audio and editing, Clubhouse regresses to shitty phone mics with feedback and connection issues. Signal is scarce, noise is rampant.
- Some people are turned off by exclusivity and friction. But most people take it as social proof of something cool.
- Some creators are turned off by ephemerality. But more people will start trying precisely because it's easy and doesn't matter. The Elon Musks and Vlad Tenevs of the world will be less guarded, despite clearly knowing anything they say will be recorded, because the medium is the message.
- Some people are turned off by demands on their time. But most people leave mobile notifications on and the live nature of chats creates some of the most urgent notifications you'll get on your phone, second only to a call from your mother. The synchronicity creates an event — a clear Before and After where you can excitedly gossip and feel superior to people out of the loop. This is a rarity in an everything-async world.
- Some people are turned off by stacked decks. But most people just want to follow celebrities and experts and aren't interested in the challenging, messy work of finding people on the way up.
- Some people are turned off by the listening experience. But Clubhouse is Good Enough, especially if content is created sooner and in bigger quantity than available anywhere else.
What is The Swyx Mixtape?
swyx's personal picks pod.
Weekdays: the best audio clips from podcasts I listen to, in 10 minutes or less!
Fridays: Music picks!
Weekends: long form talks and conversations!
This is a passion project; never any ads, 100% just recs from me to people who like the stuff I like.
Share and give feedback: tag @swyx on Twitter or email audio questions to swyx @ swyx.io