#2 - Our vision for Openhouse
A Cambrian explosion in audio
Hey all, welcome back to week #2! Let’s take a moment to talk about the future of Openhouse.
This project started a couple weeks ago with the goal of learning how real-time A/V tech works. After last week’s newsletter, we learned many of you have interests in Openhouse beyond just academic curiosity. A lot of you want to see Openhouse become a real product. So today we’re excited to present our vision for Openhouse and where it can go in the future.
👽 Online tribes
The Internet is changing! Over the last couple years (and particularly this year), people are meeting, gathering, and sharing with others in new and interesting ways online. There are a number of trends which could characterize this latest wave of online interaction, but here’s what we see:
Smaller groups (less broadcasting, more dinner parties)
Synchronous communication (less texting, more talking)
Higher bandwidth conversations (engaging more of the hot senses)
These developments have been made possible, in part, due to pure innovation. For example, technologies such as WebRTC and 5G are allowing developers to build new digital spaces online that haven’t previously been possible.
But these trends also go beyond the technology. There are larger societal factors that appear to be attracting people towards forming smaller, closer-knit, online-first communities including:
The loneliness epidemic.
In this context, many real-time communication apps are riding a rising tide of demand. The larger household names like Zoom, Google Meet, and FaceTime are of course seeing greater use than ever. But additionally, many smaller apps such as Discord, Houseparty, and Clubhouse have found prominent roles in our ever-more-online lives. Following the success of these apps, there’s a vast long-tail of entrepreneurs launching new and interesting spaces everyday:
🎙 The magic of audio
Within the universe of digital spaces that are beginning to emerge, we find audio spaces particularly fascinating. Where chat threads don’t support nuanced conversations, and video calls are causing mass Zoom fatigue, audio spaces are standing out as a “sweet spot” for remote hangouts.
The magic of audio is it’s more expressive than text and more liberating than video. It allows for emotional conversations with tone, inflection, laughter, and speed. Yet it’s also easy to use while carrying on other activities.
Now some of you may be wondering, “Isn’t this just a phone call?”. And the answer is yes, but it’s also much more than that! These new audio experiences aren’t dependent on the legacy telecom infrastructure (and its ancient 10-digit lookup numbers).
With small numbers of people, the experiences can be very similar to a phone call. But with large groups of people, really interesting things are happening! While hanging out in these spaces, we’ve been reminded of various offline experiences:
Late night campfires
🧪 Open-source experiments
With this in mind, we come to our mission for Openhosue:
To inspire and drive experimentation in online audio spaces.
Given the diversity of communities forming online, we don’t believe a one-size-fits-all solution will provide the right space and dynamics for everyone. Just as some communities gather at bars, others at libraries, and others at offices, we believe a vast array of online spaces will find success with different communities in the coming years (a Cambrian Explosion of sorts).
To this end, Openhouse will be built as an open-source project. We want to provide a framework people can use, openly contribute to, fork, and experiment with. We’ll start with simple on-demand audio rooms, but we’re super excited to see what new ideas people bring to the table.
An early version of Openhouse is currently live at:
(Phil and I have held some meetings there this last week 😜)
👋 Getting involved!
If these ideas sound exciting to you, we’d love to have you onboard. Whether you want to write code, build a community, or just jam on ideas, we’re here to chat!
If you’re interested, please fill out this survey: