EDITOR’S LETTER

”I’m blown away by Clubhouse’s possibilities and impact”

KONRAD OLSSON
On the social media app’s Nordic tipping point
February 10, 2021

When the Helsinki-based furniture entrepreneur Joel Roos joined my Clubhouse room last Friday, it was the first time I’ve ever experienced the equivalent of a spontaneous chance encounter in the digital space. I haven’t spoken to Joel in years, probably close to a decade, but we’ve kept in touch through various social channels, and I have obviously kept his phone number — which is how our ways crossed in Clubhouse (the app cross-references my contacts for other users).

This was the first time I had ever opened up a room on Clubhouse. In the room was also our editor-at-large Roland Philippe Kretzschmar, the New York-based fashion executive Erik Ulin, and the journalist Muchaneta Kapfunde, who some of you might remember from The Transformation Conference back in November. 

I was sold. For 30 spontaneous minutes, five people from Stockholm, Amsterdam, Helsinki, and New York, were discussing how we could use this new technology to enhance the Scandinavian MIND experience. An open chat room at future conferences, where the audience could discuss with panellists and keynote speakers was one excellent idea. A weekly chat room where members of the Scandinavian MIND community could discuss current events and published content was another. 

Many of you have heard about the new(ish) social media app that seems to have reached its tipping point in culture, media, and fashion this past two weeks. After having used it myself for little over a week, I must say I’m blown away by its possibilities and impact. I’ve always been fascinated by audio as a medium and future interface for our technologies. The rise of platforms like Spotify, Audible, and Acast, and the introduction of voice technologies like Apple’s Siri and Google’s Nest speakers underscore this trajectory. We’ve been very clear that we want Scandinavian MIND to be a platform based on conversations about change. With that in mind, an audio-only social media app seems perfectly fitting. 

“Clubhouse is like the hallways of the conference.”

The technology also gives me hope. The last few years in the world of social platforms has been disturbing, to say the least. The fight for people’s attention and the various platform’s aggressive ad-models has paved the way for an alarming rate of misinformation, aggression, and a general divide. The content in Clubhouse is solely based on the users’ own voices, which limits (or even eliminates?) the opportunity for bots and gives an added level of accountability. While it might be easy to leave a mean comment in an anonymous Twitter feed, it’s less so when you are speaking with your own voice in a one-on-one conversation. 

One wonders how this might impact the visual-heavy worlds of fashion and design, who have been largely dependent on Instagram for the past decade. In an interview on the Business of Fashion podcast, Virgil Abloh, the tech-savvy artistic director for Louis Vuitton men’s, talked about Clubhouse as an opportunity to go in-depth directly with his audience. 

”All the conversations that I’ve hosted or been a part of on Clubhouse related to fashion in a weird way have been more in-depth than interviews or regular-format media,” he said in the interview. 

In the same talk, the Clubhouse CEO Paul Davison described his creation like this: “Clubhouse is like the hallways of the conference.”

In that spirit, we are opening up Scandinavian MIND Weekly, a room on Clubhouse every Friday at 15:00 CET (9 am EST), where we invite you, our readers, into a conversation about current news and events. For every session, we promise interesting voices from the Scandinavian MIND community. Subscribe to our newsletter to get more information on this week’s guest. 

Talk to you there!