If Clubhouse Available Publicly, Should Libraries and Librarians Join?

I was triggered by one of the articles on Bloomberg to write this post. That article stated that Clubhouse could be a new star in social media. Maybe the article just a part of the soft selling. But apart from that, I think the article succeeded in driving curiosity about Clubhouse, and how its potential in the future. I discussed with my friend who voice-over activist (@miela_baisuni) about this platform, and I just became even more determined to join. For me, although the changes in the social media business landscape are undoubted, it is interesting to observe every social media changing, developing, and rising, and falling.

This paper is a brief overview of the application for those who have not been able to experience Clubhouse, and an introductory reading and discussion triggers in the LIS environment regarding the Clubhouse in the future. My personal experience may be similar to several reviews on social media or websites. The rest is just my opinions and preferences.

I first joined Clubhouse on 20 February 2021, nominated by my friend Imam Muafi. Even so, it took about a week for me to look for someone who could invite me to the platform.

The Clubhouse is an audio-based social media application by Alpha Exploration. This app was developed by Rohan Seth and Paul Davison. Users can interact via voice in the ‘room’. The room is an interaction space (like a WAG) that allows users to send voice messages. If the room only contains two people, it will feel like we just calling. But if more people talks in the room, feels like listening to a seminar on your cellphone. The limit of participants for a room as short as I know is 8k people. In the large-capacity room, people can chat and discuss with each other. Clubhouse allows users become a moderator that can organize discussions by allowing or delaying other users (participants) to speak. Just hit a ‘raise hand’ button, and you can take part in the discussion.

The first time I installed it, I was a bit annoyed because it asked for a lot of permissions (email, cellphone number, social media account, audio, contacts) so that the application works properly. The UI is relatively clean, not too crowded with font choices which I find funny. There are five tabs available.

First is the Home tab. The current live room is listed here. Usually, it appears because the person we follow is joining the room. If you want to join, just click, it will automatically drop you in. It feels like listening to a live show, realtime. In the home section, there is a search tab. You can search for users or clubs (a kind of group) based on keywords. You can also search by topic/interest. Several usernames are recommended to follow.

The second is the Invitation tab. By default, we get two quotas of invites. In this tab, a list of names on our contacts will appear, and we can invite them. So we need to selectively invite friends to the platform. Presumably who interest, or can use application often. The invitation is based on the contacts we store, so we can be sure that a user is a real person because it is based on people we know. So, no need for a verified badge.

The third is the activity tab. You can see the upcoming event room in the future and can create your event schedule. The four is notification tabs, and the fifth is the profile tab. At the profile tab, you can write a relatively long bio. The information about who nominated/invited you to the Clubhouse is shown here.

User Interface

This article was finished after a month I use Clubhouse. In my opinion, sometimes the application is still a bit slow, now and then. However, the sound quality is very immersive. This application is audio-only then public speaking skills, storytelling, are very important. I’m just lazy to listen to people who talk about grouse or messy ways of speaking. Which can’t be paused or skipped like a podcast. Yes, I want it or not, the choice is left from the room. Problems arise if in a room; You like to hear speaker A but not B.

Meanwhile, this app has no ads. But we don’t even know how it will be developing and have more new features. There is a chance to combine features with advertisements. Yep, social media is just a business. However, no matter how it develops in the future, I hope the founders never lose their essential vision. So even though the Clubhouse will grow bigger, it will still be an interesting platform with fruitful discussion.

Important note. Even though you are impressed by a discussion in some room, you can’t enjoy it again. When the conversation has ended, there is no record. The clubhouse does not yet provide a conversation recording feature or some kind of transcription of the conversation. But we can use a live tweet (writing chat points per moment) or create an Instagram microblog as a discussion log.

We will divide this section into two parts; UI of application and personal experience.

The application has a pretty clean appearance, but it feels a little laggy sometimes. Several times the application fails to execute commands, such as the browser page unresponsive. Maybe a server problem. The Clubhouse is still developing to be better, and bigger. So, bugs that appear during the transition period are just normal.

Little Problem

The Clubhouse cannot yet clear log activity (notification of activities such as who has just joined, created room, etc.). Almost all social media applications are like that, and old activities will disappear over time. The Clubhouse can control how often pop-up notifications appear. I think it’s good if we can setting up activity notifications. Temporarily you could say, Clubhouse’s digital wellbeing is pretty good.

Rooms in the Clubhouse only show the title and who is talking, meaning we need to enter the room to know what the discussion is about. This is interesting because we are not exposed to content directly. It’s not like we see IG feeds that are directly exposed to photos/videos, nor like browsing Tiktok’s FYP that are immediately exposed to recommended videos, unlike youtube videos that continue to run without a sound even though we haven’t clicked and not like tweets/written status on FB and Twitter which we direct view from home. This is a preference, but I think that kind of UI is relatively user-sided.

My complaint about Clubhouse has more to do with my device hardware. Clubhouse allows us to listen to very long conversations. Longer conversations affect application usage hours. Now, since my cellphone is an old iPhone, my phone battery drains quickly. Sad :(

There is an important note that we need to know together that Clubhouse does not yet support monetization. In the meantime, without monetization, creators, organizations, or anyone who wants to create a room, should do payments separately outside the Clubhouse application. Monetization is quite problematic. One side of the creator cannot get a reward from what he conveyed, on the other hand, the user can get a lot of valuable insight. So at least we need to say thanks to anyone who has created a room with the insightful discussion. Thanks to the Clubhouse developers for making a platform that empowers people to start discussions with ease. Just make a personal appointment, and the discussion could start.

Maybe that is what differentiates Clubhouse from Zoom. The Clubhouse makes a room easier, and relatively natural. This a good alternative to avoiding zoom fatigue. A perfect option for those who don’t want to dress up a little for a video conference session. Even though we know Zoom does have the advantage of a more complex and interactive presentation feature, like a share screen.

My experience while using the Clubhouse is relatively good. It feels like we’re listening to a podcast, but I can immediately comment. And it feels more real because we are both live with the other person. Just like calling.

Then, what can Clubhouse develop? Hm, a lot. I tend to go to the better Information Retrieval section. It is possible that the rooms in the Clubhouse can be recorded so when we don’t have time to join a room, we can listen to the delayed record. Similar IG live stream feature, the recording is provided after the room is over. It may be necessary to work with a cloud drive provider. I think Clubhouse can include a paid feature, of course, to attract revenue for developers. The rest are profile visitor statistics, premium rooms, donations, and room participant logs. By the way, you can check Ogut’s post for more insight.

I want to add to the anxiety about the dispute between Android versus iPhone netizens.

I am a little uncomfortable when the iPhone is too seen as an expensive cellphone, even though Apple wants to build on that image and an exclusive impression. In my opinion, the iPhone is more accurate to say as the future-proof cellphone. I’m using the 2016 iPhone SE, and still good for today (except for the battery issue which is a classic iPhone problem). Even then, I bought it at the same time in 2019. The iPhone is future-proof because it is supported by iOS, which covers many of the old series iPhones. Android? Nope. Pixel series only has 3 years of support. Now regarding the expensive, Android is selling the more expensive phone.

I don’t even know why developers released on iOS first and then on Android. Well, I think this it’s because there are start with small teams, and need more person to scale up for Android application development. Remember, in the past WhatsApp and IG were also originally on iOS. So be patient. The developer checks the market on iOS first because it’s a small market in comparison to Android.

Even though it is different aspects when we talk about business competition between SNSs. If Clubhouse doesn’t launch the Android version soon, Twitter will grab the market by releasing a similar service — Space.

By the way, you can try the Android mod version of Clubhouse. Risk at your own.

I have attended several rooms in the Clubhouse. Some provide insightful information, some are not clear. Rooms from public figures can still make people curious even though the discussion is messy enough. Sometimes it even seems like listening to people … complaining. Because after all, if it is an analogy, a room in the Clubhouse can be likened to making a call (either personal or group) but others outside the conversation can listen and even comment. So the discussion is of course like our conversation with friends; can be very interesting and fruitful, it can also be just a random talk.

The ease of creating a room certainly makes it easier for those who are already known as a public figures to get more listeners. Even though we, as usual, have the opportunity to become an influencer at the Clubhouse. There is a way.

The feeling that comes from joining a room reminds me while taking part in a seminar or webinar. Even though it’s only audio, I’m still nervous if I want to ask a question. Haha. Once, out of Knowhere, I questioned blockchain-based social media in a room with Ismail Fahmi and Prof. Joel Picard.

I have also been in Ainun Najib’s room. He invited Mas Ismail Fahmi to share his experience of using the Clubhouse, and how the Drone Emprit Academic captures the conversation about the Clubhouse. I came to know that Clubhouse was once a medium for social movement in Thailand. In fact, because of this room, I also know that there are kpop idols who join Clubhouse xixixi.

An interesting insight that I got from this room was that many health workers or doctors, to be precise, joined the Clubhouse to fight misinformation on health issues. Creating a room in the Clubhouse is easy and anyone can say anything. So medical doctors need to have a voice in reducing health misinformation. Now, this is kind of an important note. The more experts who join the Clubhouse, misinformation or disinformation in the room can be handled more quickly because many experts who can be contacted directly, can comment on a theme. Even for the government, according to Sandiaga Uno in a room, the Clubhouse can be a medium for transparency of government policies and allows the public to give direct aspirations. Hail Daebak.

“Then, how about the Clubhouse in the future?” asked Firdza to Fahmi in a room. “Can develop. Some people have the intention to voice criticism. Besides, Clubhouse facilitates those with the ‘just talk or listen’ preference. Clubhouse fills the blank space for audio-based social media” said Fahmi. Although I think that the new generation of children seems to be more interested in visual-based content/interaction, and in short video applications such as Tiktok.

Room Experiences

Clapping at the Clubhouse is done by pressing the sound button repeatedly (mute-unmute, mute-unmute). First time knowing from Gabriela. She said that it was happening in the international room. Laugh to the moon.

I see that Clubhouse has the potential to grow. Their story behind while building an application relatively similar to Facebook the social media (or rather advertising) giant today. Facebook starts from the closest circle, limited people, getting exposure then increasing and stabilizing influence. But Clubhouse competes with Twitter’s Space. The clubhouse should release an Android version soon. Because, inevitably, the smartphone market share is still capitalized by Android users. Yesterday’s Clubhouse got hype because of its scarcity. Just for iOS users, only by invitation. Of course, this strategy cannot be sustained or repeated.

For those who have joined the Clubhouse, my advice is one: be careful. Speak carefully. We don’t even know if someone was secretly recording our speech. Be careful when talking about people/institutions. Because we don’t know where the information leaks are. Be careful about talking about something. Cite to an authoritative source. No need to pretend to say some insights that do not come from you. Be responsible with whatever you say.

Well, is Clubhouse is dangerous? There are potential dangers, as reviewed by Ario Pratomo. But there is monetization potential too. You can check Ogut’s content. There are tips and tricks for those of you who want to have exposure at the Clubhouse. Often come and make rooms, often interact there. Speaking quality can attract people to follow you. Read here for more.

Finally, we come to the end of the article, and the background purpose of this paper. As stated in the title, should you?

This question cannot be answered yes or no diametrically. But I will tend to advocate while also asking preferences.

Are you one of those people who prefer to talks or listen? Do you like listening to podcasts? Do you prefer audio content packaging over text, photos, and videos? If the answer to a question is said to be dominant YES, you tend to enjoy Clubhouse.

Although previously Clubhouse rise because of sentiment and news coverage, I don’t think it is a problem if LIS students and librarians (if possible) join the trend. Just positioning that librarians can also keep up in the social media dynamics.

As of this writing, there are still few librarians (both from Indonesia and abroad) who join the Clubhouse. I searched with the keywords ‘library’, ‘library’, ‘librarian’, ‘librarian’. The room related to literacy with the keywords ‘book’, ‘book’, is not many. I assume that the theme of literacy is that there are not many LIS friends and librarians playing at the Clubhouse. Not yet like topics or figures in the fields of health, creative industry, finance, etc. Are the librarians and literacy activists use Android, not iPhone? No offense, please. Xixixi

For me, the opportunity to refine the librarian image also open on this platform. As mentioned in the previous section, many experts in certain fields have joined the Clubhouse. Librarians should also be present as people who have a professional image in the field of information, their expertise can be seen by interacting a lot in the room. We can proudly show “we are librarians” on the profile and can demonstrate the quality of our mastery in managing information, literature, books, publishing, etc. We can get a stage to show the quality of public speaking. As I did; affix my Clubhouse profile as a LIS student, participate in the several rooms and participate in voicing information, books, publishing, etc.

What exactly I got by joining the Clubhouse with the identity of a LIS student? Lots of new insights, lots of networking.

Cheers!

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