Give it space

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I was on a Twitter Space for the first time yesterday. Twitter Spaces are live audio conversations on Twitter. A competitor to Clubhouse, they’ve recently been made available to all Twitter users with more than 600 followers.

I’ve not been sold on Clubhouse. Apart from being on iOS only (I’ve no Apple products) and an invitation only app, I was concerned over the use of data by the platform. As well as that, I didn’t know if sitting in to overhear a conversation would be worth spending my time on.

Yesterday a series of fortunate coincidences happened. I was free at 12, I saw a pop up advising that Pilar Orti (one of the Women Talking About Learning guests) was about to start a session and the topic – choice of hybrid working – interested me so I dialled in.

I won’t comment on the content but the experience was unusual. It felt like an open Zoom/Teams call where everyone’s video was off. There didn’t seem to be a chat function although it was possible to express comments through using some limited emojis. The interface seems simple – the host can allocate speaker roles to the attendees, or people can only listen in. The platform didn’t seem especially stable. With the exception of the host, I think everyone was kicked out of the room at some point (including me) and had to close Twitter and re-open it to get back in the room.

I’ve heard a lot about how great Clubhouse audio meetings are, how they’re going to takeover from podcasts and how they’re a future channel of learning. I can’t see how. For internal learning functions, there are dozens of options to create something similar. I understand the desire to produce audio only but live audio can be picked up with internal channels already. For those who are independent I recognise there’s an opportunity to accentuate and improve your networks. However, Spaces are entirely public and open and how comfortable people will be with their contributions being retained for 30-90 days may switch some off.

The biggest issue preventing Spaces from being a future learning channel is in the design; there is no recording element right now so if you’re not in the space at the time required, you’ll miss the conversation. With an expected move to more asynchronous learning design, it feels as if Spaces are a solution to a problem we don’t know yet. Whether they’ll ever reach across to becoming a learning product? I think it’s unlikely at present.

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