Talk of the town: Clubhouse vs. TwitterSpaces

Published June 12, 2021, 12:20 AM

by Tonyo Cruz

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Tonyo Cruz
Tonyo Cruz

I started using Clubhouse last February 17, when my Indonesian friend Chichi Utami nominated me. Within minutes, our group of former bloggers from across Southeast Asia started a room which lasted for about an hour.

As a frequent user, moderator and club founder, I’ve found Clubhouse superior to TwitterSpaces.

First, the audio quality of Clubhouse is better than TwitterSpaces whether on iOS or Android.

Second, users can find, search and choose from among many Clubhouse rooms that are open at any time. Leaving a room and joining another room is seamless. The rooms in a Clubhouse user’s “hallway” can also change depending on the people they follow, the clubs they join and the interests they clicked in their personal settings.

Meanwhile, the TwitterSpaces one can see on one’s Twitter app are limited; Twitter users could see only the TwitterSpaces hosted or joined by people who in their respective communities.

Third, Clubhouse rooms are more participative. There could be more than 10 speakers at any time. I’ve seen lots of Clubhouse rooms with dozens or even more than a hundred speakers and thousands of listeners at any one time.

TwitterSpaces meanwhile have emojis that listeners, speakers and the host could use during the conversation.

Fourth, Clubhouse allows rooms to have multiple moderators. They enjoy a good set of moderation tools that enable them to manage the room: invite, mute, or remove speakers; kick abusive speakers or former speakers out of the room; and to end the room. Having multiple moderators means moderator duties could be shared among two or more persons.

Even if one moderator leaves, a Clubhouse room stays on with the help of other moderators.

A TwitterSpace meanwhile could be hosted and moderated by only one person, which could be a challenge as I have experienced a number of times. Nobody else could share the moderator tasks.

Worse, if a TwitterSpace host loses her connection or her app crashes, that would also mean the abrupt end of the room. This has happened to me in my forays into TwitterSpaces, and to many others, including those co-organized by Twitter Philippines.

Fifth, what many see as a weakness could actually be a strength: Clubhouse is still building communities of users. Not only is the app being built from the ground up and given further improvements, but the user base too is built one user at a time.

Thus, the current communities we have seen are newly-built communities composed of users who have met one another only for the first time.  This is a strength because those who have gone on to sign up and stay on at Clubhouse are those who are truly interested or discovered a new interest in an audio drop-in app. This provides a good start for forming new communities — or clubs — around common interests that are bound by a commitment to stay in touch via Clubhouse.

Clubhouse users are developing their own audio drop-in culture, so to speak. And I find this culture more introspective, and more ready to listen as much as to talk. The wide choices of available rooms at any one time, and the setting up of clubs, could give anyone a broad view of what people talk about at any time. There’s also concern for newbies who are easily identifiable with the “torotot” emoji on their profile photos.

TwitterSpaces’ main advantage is its existing user base that is big compared to Clubhouse. We have seen many Twitter users, especially those with big followings, start TwitterSpaces that are well-attended and end up much talked-about. No need for TwitterSpace users to build a community; for them, TwitterSpaces is a new function for Twitter.

My view is that the current version of TwitterSpaces is not the audio drop-in app that Twitter users deserve. It makes the Twitter app crash. Limiting the number of speakers to just 10 could be a matter of the app’s capacity or the whim of developers, and less about seeing the possibility that there could be good conversations by more than 10 speakers. There should at least be one moderator to assist or take over from the host, if necessary.

Let’s see how things pan out. TwitterSpaces and Clubhouse could make further improvements, and users could discover new uses for either. Let’s also watch out for Calamansi, which is attracting more users and brand supporters by the day.  For now, let’s enjoy talking and listening.

 
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