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Jonathan Mosen: I’m Jonathan Mosen and this is Mosen at Large, the show that’s got the blind community talking. On the show today, Twitter has made its audio competitor to Clubhouse called Spaces available to more people. I’ll show you what it’s like to use as a blind person using the voiceover screen reader for iPhone.


Jonathan: In Mosen at Large Episode 99, we brought you an extensive review, tutorial, and demonstration of Clubhouse. I appreciate how many people have let us know that they’ve used that as a way of learning about how to use Clubhouse from a blindness perspective. We’re back now to take a look at a Clubhouse competitor. This is Spaces. It’s produced by Twitter, and you can access it from the Twitter app for iOS and Android at the moment, although they do say that eventually, it will be available in the web browser as well. That’s exciting because when it comes to the web browser, it means that those with a PC and a Mac with high-quality audio equipment will have very minimal barriers to entry to producing high-quality audio on Spaces.

Spaces has been in a testing phase since December of 2020, and gradually, more people have been gaining access. One of the biggest advantages that Spaces has had even during its testing phase over Clubhouse is that it’s available on the world’s most used mobile operating system, Android. At the time of recording this in early May of 2021, Clubhouse is in very limited testing with a select number of people with their Android app, but to all intents and purposes, Clubhouse at the moment is still iOS-only.

If you care about choosing to use a service that is as inclusive of as many people as possible, then you’ll be pleased to know that Spaces supports real-time captioning. This is a huge win for Spaces because people have been concerned about the degree to which the deaf community has been shut out of all the buzz around Clubhouse. I’ll show you how you can participate in other people’s Spaces, who can start their own at the moment, and how to do it if it’s available to you, and we’ll take a look at the user interface of Spaces.

To begin with, I’m going to open the Twitter app. It’s important to note that you do have to be using Twitter’s official app. Most of the time when I’m using Twitter, I use Twitterrific from the Iconfactory which in my view is a superior experience, both functionally and in an accessibility context to the native Twitter app, but you are going to have to use the Twitter app for Spaces. There’s no other way to access them.

Open Twitter.

Voiceover: Selected Twitter home tab, new tweets available, scroll up to read them, selected home tab, new items.

Jonathan: If you’re going looking for Spaces, then be sure that you are on the home tab, go to the bottom of the screen, and ensure that the home tab is the one that is selected. I’m going to go to the top of the screen in this Twitter app by performing a four-finger single tap on the top half of the screen.

Voiceover: Account menu button.

Jonathan: I’ll flick to the right.

Voiceover: See top or latest tweets, button, fleet line one items adjustable.

Jonathan: The fact that voiceover is saying that there is only one item in my fleet line means that at the moment, nobody that I’m following has a Twitter Space that is active. Right now at time of recording, it’s early days still for Twitter Spaces. If you hear that there are more items available than one, that could be because you have Fleets, which are little text snippets, photos, or videos that disappear after 24 hours, or it could be because somebody is broadcasting a Twitter Space. To investigate them, you’d be able to flick up and down and move through the available options, be they Fleets or Spaces.

When you find a Space that interests you, you can double-tap, although I have to say that in my experimenting with this, sometimes double tapping doesn’t work the first time. Sometimes I have to double-tap a few times, sometimes I think I might have to flick up and flick back down or vice versa and double-tap. It doesn’t seem to reliably get me into the Space every time. Again, Spaces is still being tested and I’m sure those things will be refined and corrected.

Another way that you can find out that a Space is available is that someone may have shared a link to the Space with you either by direct message, by posting it to Twitter, or in some other forum like an email message or a text message. At the time of recording, it’s not possible to schedule a Space and circulate a link to that Space in advance. Twitter says that’s coming soon. In the meantime, what you can do is post a tweet in advance telling people that at a certain time, you will be creating a Space and they should watch for it. People can then check on their Twitter timelines for when you start your Space. Once you do, if people are following you, then it will appear at the top of the screen in this list of Fleets and Spaces. Some people also get notifications when you start a Space.

There are two things that, as I understand it, influence those notifications. We’ll take a look at this now. I’m going to go to the top of the screen by performing a four-finger single tap.

Voiceover: Account menu button.

Jonathan: We have the account menu, which I’ll double-tap.

Voiceover: Account menu, account menu @JonathanMosen button.

Jonathan: That tells me that I’m currently in my Jonathan Mosen account and I will switch to the Mosen at Large account before creating a Space, but for now, I’ll flick to the right.

Voiceover: Mosen at Large Podcast. @Mosenatlarge button. Mushroom FM. @MushroomFM button. More accounts button. Jonathan Mosen, button.

Jonathan: I’m continuing to flick right.

Voiceover: @JonathanMosen button. 969 following button, 4,853 followers button, profile button, list button, topics button, bookmarks button, moments button, Twitter ads button, settings and privacy button.

Jonathan: We want to go into settings and privacy. I’ll double-tap.

Voiceover: Timeline, back button.

Jonathan: Flick to the right.

Voiceover: Settings and privacy heading. @JonathanMosen, heading, account button, privacy and safety button, notifications button.

Jonathan: Let’s double-tap notifications.

Voiceover: Filters, heading.

Jonathan: Just to speed this process up, I’m going to navigate by heading.

Voiceover: Filters heading, preferences heading.

Jonathan: Now I’m at the preferences heading and I’ll flick right.

Voiceover: Push notifications button.

Jonathan: Here’s the button for push notifications, which is what I’m interested in. I’ll double-tap.

Voiceover: Related to you and your tweets heading.

Jonathan: I’ll flick right.

Voiceover: Tweets, six people button.

Jonathan: If I double-tap on this button here.

Voiceover: Tweets switched button on.

Jonathan: And flick right.

Voiceover: Get tweet notifications from people you follow by choosing turn-on notifications from their profile. This includes any SMS tweet notifications you already receive.

Jonathan: Normally, I don’t want to be bothered by every tweet that someone sends, but there are a few exceptions

Voiceover: Wellington Region Emergency Management Office @WREMO button.

Jonathan: There are six Twitter accounts that I currently have pushing every tweet they send to me and my wife, Bonnie, is one of those accounts because obviously, I’m interested in what she tweets. If you enable notifications for someone from their profile, then you will always know when they start a Space. That may be a bit overkill for some people. I’ll go back.

Voiceover: Related to you and your tweets.

Jonathan: We’ll go to the next heading.

Voiceover: From Twitter, heading.

Jonathan: And flick right.

Voiceover: Topics, switched button on news, switch button off. Popular in your network. Switch button off. Moment, switch button off. Broadcast and Spaces switch button on.

Jonathan: Here, we have Broadcast and Spaces. I am not sure that this means that I get notified of every Space that somebody I follow creates if this is on. I believe that if I want to make sure I don’t miss a Space from an individual, I would need to enable the other option that I just showed you, but I think what happens here is that if there is a Space of particular notes, either to the community as a whole, or because Twitter’s algorithms determined that you might be interested in this, then you will get a notification. There are two ways that you can create your own Space. One is to flick up in this list of Fleets and Spaces that we’re now focused on, and you will find.

Voiceover: Add a new Fleet.

Jonathan: If I double-tap, there’ll be an option to create a Space from within here. I think the easiest way to create a Space is to go to the bottom of the screen.

Voiceover: Messages tab. Five new items.

Jonathan: I got to the bottom of the screen by performing a four-finger single tap on the bottom half of the screen and now I’ll flick left.

Voiceover: Notifications tab. Six new items. Search and explore tab. Selected home tab, new items, compose tweet button.

Jonathan: Here’s the compose tweet button. This is a special button because not only can you double-tap it, you can also flick up and down and the actions rotor is going to give you a range of choices. I’ll flick down Spaces. While there are other choices on this list, if I keep flicking down, the first option I find is called Spaces. If this isn’t available for you, then it could be because you have insufficient followers. At the time that I’m recording this in early May of 2021, Spaces is only available to people who have 600 followers or more. This is as the testing phase expands, eventually, everybody will be able to create a Space. I’ll double tap.

Voiceover: Your Space heading.

Jonathan: And flick to the right.

Voiceover: Close button. Spaces are public and anyone can join. Name your Space text field.

Jonathan: Here’s an edit field where I can type a name for my Space. This will come up when people are flicking through the list of Fleets and Spaces. When you share your Space, this name will be shared as well. The only trouble is, at the moment, I’m not sure if this is an accessibility issue or an issue with the current version of the Twitter app. If I double tap in this edit field-

Voiceover: Name your Space, text field.

Jonathan: -no mention that it is editing because, as far as I can tell, you can’t at the moment, I’m sure this will be fixed in a subsequent version of the Twitter app and by the time you hear this, it may even well have been. There is another way to give your Space a name and we’ll cover that shortly. For now, I’ll flick to the right.

Voiceover: Learn about Spaces button.

Jonathan: Let’s double-tap and see what’s in here.

Voiceover: Start live conversations with Spaces.

Jonathan: I’m going to perform a continuous read by performing a two-finger flick down and we’ll learn about Spaces.

Voiceover: Start live conversations with Spaces. Want to start a Space? Here’s how it works. Add up to 10 speakers. You can invite anyone on Twitter to speak. Anyone on Twitter can join except accounts you’ve blocked. Your Space, your rules as host. You can mute and change who’s speaking and remove guests. Twitter also keeps a recording of this Space for a limited time in case of reports. Get started button.

Jonathan: That’s a succinct explanation of Spaces. If you’d like to learn more, you can search on Twitter Spaces and your favorite search engine. There is a very detailed article that Twitter has put together describing how Spaces works. I’m going to double-tap the get started button.

Voiceover: Your Space, heading.

Jonathan: And flick to the right.

Voiceover: Close, button. Spaces are public, and anyone can join. Name your Space, text field.

Jonathan: We’re back to that screen that we had before. I’ll find the button at the bottom of the screen.

Voiceover: Start your Space, button.

Jonathan: I’m going to double tap and start my Space.

Voiceover: Start close but–

Jonathan: I’ll flick to the right.

Voiceover: Connecting, heading.

Jonathan: You’ll notice that the level has dropped a little bit. When I was using my iRig2 multimedia guitar interface for iPhone and iPad, which I talked about extensively in Mosen At Large 109, as a way of getting audio into Clubhouse and other apps like this, I found the level dropped a lot. It was actually quite difficult to hear voiceover and I haven’t found a way around that. Hopefully, that’ll be something that is fixed in a future release. The volume of Spaces’ audio is fine, but the volume of voiceover audio, when the iRig is connected is extremely low. I’ll flick to the right.

Voiceover: End, button.

Jonathan: Here’s a button to end my Space, but we’ve only just begun and I’m going to take you on a bit of a tour of the user interface. I’ll flick right.

Voiceover: Add a description, button.

Jonathan: Here’s where I can add a description. This does work. I’m going to double-tap.

Voiceover: What’s happening, text field. Is editing. Character mode, insertion point at start.

Jonathan: Now, I can type something like an experimental Space for my Spaces review. We’ll read that back.

Voiceover: An experimental Space for my Spaces review.

Jonathan: I’ll press enter. Now I’ll flick right.

Voiceover: Guests button.

Jonathan: Here is the guests button. This is where you’re going to be spending a lot of time when you start getting people coming into the room and you want to manage who was speaking and take a look at who you have in your Space. We’ll spend quite a bit of time talking about that shortly. In the meantime though, I’ll flick to the right.

Voiceover: Microphone muted.

Jonathan: I’m currently muted. If anyone comes in here, they won’t hear me, they won’t know what’s going on. That’s okay because I’m concentrating on doing this review right now. We will put Spaces through its paces a little bit later and get some people to join us. If I double-tap this button, then it will unmute my microphone. I like this feature a lot. When you come in here even as the host, when you’ve started your own Space, you will be muted. That gives you some time to catch a breath. You can potentially change some of the options that we’ll examine in a moment. Only when you’re ready in your own time, you can unmute yourself and begin your Space. I’ll flick to the right.

Voiceover: Options, button.

Jonathan: Before we look at the options, I should say that when you go into Spaces for the first time, you’ll be asked if it’s okay to turn captions on. Please say yes because it’s going to make it more inclusive. It’ll make it easier for deaf people to participate, and that’s important. Now, I’ll double tap, the options button.

Voiceover: Close, button.

Jonathan: And flick to the right.

Voiceover: About Spaces, button.

Jonathan: Once again, we have the About Spaces button. We’ve had a look in there. That’s a brief description of what the service is.

Voiceover: Adjust settings, button.

Jonathan: I’m going to double-tap to adjust settings.

Voiceover: Your Space, back button.

Jonathan: And flick to the right.

Voiceover: Adjust settings, heading, and button speakers heading, who can speak.

Jonathan: A lot of thought has gone into this. You have a number of options regarding who is able to speak in your Space. Let’s flick right and explore the options.

Voiceover: Everyone.

Jonathan: If you set this, then everyone is able to speak. That means that when they come into the Space, they will be muted, but they will be able to unmute themselves without any requirement for you to intervene and speak.

Voiceover: People you follow.

Jonathan: This is a middle ground. If you’re following someone, then it’s suggested that you know them in some way or you know of them enough to follow them. When they come into your Space, they will be able to unmute themselves and talk without any kind of intervention from you, but if someone comes in who you don’t know, who you’re not following, then you would have to promote them to being a speaker. Finally, we’ve got the default.

Voiceover: Selected. Only people you invite to speak.

Jonathan: Voiceover tells us that this is the selected option, only people you invite to speak. What that means is that you have absolute control. It’s a little bit like Zoom or in fact Clubhouse where somebody can request to speak. You have to promote them to speak a status. We’ll have a look at how easy it is to do that in just a moment. I’ll flick right.

Voiceover: Captions, heading.

Jonathan: You’ll note that all these option categories are separated by a heading so it’s easy to navigate from one heading to another to get to your different option categories,.

Voiceover: Captions show what is being said and help make the Space more accessible. They are auto-generated so may not be fully accurate.

Jonathan: I’ll flick right.

Voiceover: View captions. Switch button off.

Jonathan: If you want to, you can turn captions on. If you have a hearing impairment, or of course, if you are deaf-blind, you can double-tap this and you will be able to read these captions with a Braille display or voiceover can speak them if you find it easier to understand text-to-speech, rather than people’s audio, which may be of varying degrees of quality. Keep in mind that these are automated transcripts and depending on the accent and the quality of the audio, quality will vary a lot. I’ll flick right.

Voiceover: Allows you to see captions shared by others in this Space, sound heading, sound effects, switch button on.

Jonathan: You can choose whether you want sound effects on or not. I’ll probably end up turning this off because if I’m recording from Spaces for a podcast, I don’t want the sound effects interfering. Now I’ll perform a two-finger scrub gesture.

Voiceover: A experimental Space for my Space is.

Jonathan: Flick right.

Voiceover: Guests, button, microphone, muted options, button guests, button, emoji reactions, button, share, button.

Jonathan: Some people will get notifications when you start a Space. Of course, if someone’s looking for Spaces to join, we’ve seen where those are, right at the top of the screen, where the Fleets are. If you want, you can also share your Spaces via a direct message, via tweet or other means. Let’s double-tap and explore the sharing options.

Voiceover: Close, button.

Jonathan: I’ll flick right.

Voiceover: Invite via DM, button. Share via tweet, button. Copy link, button.

Jonathan: You’ve got those three options. You can invite somebody or a group of people via direct message. You can share the link via a tweet, which will go to all your followers and of course, if your timeline is public, it could go far and wide, and you can copy the link, which means that if you want to contact someone via a text message or send an email to them or anything at all, you can just paste that link anywhere and they can join if they wish to. That’s how you can alert people to the fact that you are creating a Twitter Space.

Again, at the moment, no way to schedule one of these in advance and get the link so that you can circulate it widely in advance. Obviously, Clubhouse at the moment does have that feature. I’ll perform a two-finger scrub.

Voiceover: Hide, button.

Jonathan: Now we’re back up to the main screen. I’ll go to the top of the screen.

Voiceover: Hide button.

Jonathan: We were there. The hide button is the first icon on the top of the screen. I’ll flick right.

Voiceover: Your Space heading. End button. An experimental Space for My. Guests button.

Jonathan: I’m going to double-tap guests. This is where we’re going to be spending a lot of time when we’re actually running a Space for real and we want to find out who is here listening and who might like to talk. There is no limit to the number of people who can be in a Space, but you can only have 10 speakers at a time. If you’re running a really busy Space, you will probably want to demote some people from speaker back to the audience when they’ve had their say, so that new people can talk, I’ll double tap-

Voiceover: Close button.

Jonathan: -and flick right.

Voiceover: Search guests search field.

Jonathan: If you’ve got a large number of guests, you can search for them here, right in the Edit field. This is a really cool feature if you’re looking for somebody in a hurry, in a busy Space, I’ll flick right.

Voiceover: Selected all button.

Jonathan: Now we’ve got three possible views of the screen, and again, if it’s really busy, if you have a lot of listeners, this can help a great deal. By default, you’ll be in the all view and this means that you will see everybody who is a speaker, and everybody who is listening, but if you want to, you can narrow the view and I’ll flick right.

Voiceover: Speakers button.

Jonathan: If we double-tap this button, we will only see people who are speakers, and if I flick right again-

Voiceover: Listeners button.

Jonathan: -we will only see people who are listeners, not speakers. I’ll flick to the right.

Voiceover: Remove button, host heading. Mosen at Large podcast, Mosen at Large is the host.

Jonathan: There’s me, the Mosen at Large podcast and it says that I’m the host. I’ll flick to the right.

Voiceover: Speakers heading, zero speakers middle, 10 open spots.

Jonathan: There are zero speakers right now, because I haven’t got anybody speaking other than me as the host and there are 10 open spots, to be clear, you can have 10 speakers plus the host. I’ll flick right-

Voiceover: Add speakers button.

Jonathan: -and you can add speakers. What happens if we double-tap this button.

Voiceover: Text field is editing, search for people in groups. Character mode. Insertion point at start.

Jonathan: Into this field, I can type a name or a Twitter handle, and I can invite somebody to my Space, and they will get a notification and I will add them as a speaker, so that when they join, assuming they do, they will immediately pop in as a speaker. In fact, they have the choice. They’ll be asked do you want to come into the Space as a speaker or as a listener, whereas if they haven’t received an invitation, they will only be able to come in as a listener. I could type a Twitter handle here. They don’t necessarily need to be following me. We don’t have to have a Twitter relationship and invite them as a speaker. I will go back-

Voiceover: Add speakers button.

Jonathan: -and flick right.

Voiceover: Listeners heading.

Jonathan: I’ll flick right.

Voiceover: Zero listeners.

Jonathan: I’m rather relieved about that because I’m muted. If anybody’s been here, hopefully they’ve now gone because they can’t hear me as I just explore this user interface with you, but hopefully, when you’re running a Space for real, this will be full of people who are listening to your Space. You can invite people to speak, you can perform other actions and we’ll have a look at that a little bit later, but that’s all that’s on the screen. Now I’m going to flick left-

Voiceover: Listeners adding, add speakers button.

Jonathan: -and I’m going to double tap add speakers.

Voiceover: Text field is editing, search for people in groups. Character mode insertion point at start.

Jonathan: I’m going to type Bonnie’s Twitter name, which is BonnieMosen, all joined together and now flick to the right-

Voiceover: Bonnie Mosen button.

Jonathan: -and there she is. So I double-tap-

Voiceover: Selected Bonnie Mosen, @bonniemosen.

Jonathan: -and you can keep inviting people, but I am done with this process. I’ll go to the top of the screen with a four finger single tap on the top half of the screen-

Voiceover: Invite button.

Jonathan: -and there’s the invite button. I’ll double tap-

Voiceover: Selected all button.

Jonathan: -and now I’ll flick right.

Voiceover: Speakers button. Listeners button. Removed button. Host heading. Mosen at Large podcast. Speakers heading. Zero speakers middle 10 open spots. Null-null is the listener.

Jonathan: That one obviously needs a bit of tidy up now that I have invited Bonnie, it says null is a listener and it will stay that way unless and until Bonnie or whoever you’ve invited comes into your Space.

Voiceover: Cancel invite button.

Jonathan: Now Bonnie has joined us, but she got the prompt that asked if she wanted to join as a speaker or a listener and this is her first time ever in a Twitter Space. She’s chosen to join as a listener. Let’s see what happens when you get a listener in your Space. If I flick right-

Voiceover: Bonnie Mosen, Bonnie Mosen is a listener.

Jonathan: -it shows me that Bonnie is a listener. Now if I double tap-

Voiceover: Close button.

Jonathan: -we can have a look at what we can do in the screen. I’ll flick right.

Voiceover: Bonnie Mosen. Following Bonnie Mosen button, send direct message button.

Jonathan: I can send a direct message right from here and that’s quite useful if you want to send somebody a link on email. If you’re working with a speaker and you want to send them a message to say, hurry up and wind up or something, you can do that. If I flick right.

Voiceover: Invite to speak button.

Jonathan: You can invite somebody to speak in the screen, but you don’t have to go into the screen where you’re seeing all these options for a given speaker to do that, you can actually flick right on that main list of speakers and listeners to get to the invite person. My hope is that eventually, some of these options will be consolidated on the actions rotor, so there’s only one focused item per speaker and then actions that you might want to perform on that speaker are just a rotor action away, that’d be really efficient-

Voiceover: Remove @BonnieMosen button.

Jonathan: -or kick them out.

Voiceover: Block and remove @BonnieMosen button.

Jonathan: If you block somebody here, it also blocks them from Twitter itself because Spaces is a Twitter product.

Voiceover: Report and remove @BonnieMosen button, send them an emoji. 100 points symbol button. Raised fist.

Jonathan: Then there’s a lot of emojis you can send.

Voiceover: Face with tears of joy button.

Jonathan: That’s the end of the screen. I’ll go back.

Voiceover: Bonnie Mosen.

Jonathan: Now because I invited Bonnie, she has now promoted herself from a listener to a speaker by unmuting her microphone. If I just have a look here.

Voiceover: One speakers middle dot nine open spots. Bonnie Mosen. Bonnie Mosen is a speaker.

Jonathan: If I flick to the right-

Voiceover: Remove from speakers button.

Jonathan: -I can remove Bonnie from speakers and that will put her back into listener mode. As I say, with the host and 10 people, that’s the maximum number of people that can be speaking at one time.

Voiceover: Add speakers button.

Jonathan: We can add speakers and listeners.

Voiceover: Zero listeners.

Jonathan: Bonnie could unmute herself because she got the invitation to be a speaker. If you just come into a Space as a listener, you can request to speak. When that happens if you are hosting a Space, voiceover will tell you that somebody is requesting to speak and it will also flash on your Braille display briefly. As you’ll see in a minute, this screen is beautifully segmented by headings and when you have speaker requests, they will appear under their own heading. It’s really easy for you to see amongst the speakers and the listeners who is wanting to become a speaker. Let’s see what the audio quality is like and talk to Bonnie on the Twitter Spaces. Welcome to you, Bonnie Mosen.

Bonnie: Hello, good to be here.

Jonathan: This is your first Twitter Space experience, right?

Bonnie: It is, I almost created my own Space because it when I went in to do it, it said do you want to be a speaker and then we’ll get you set up in your own Space. Then I went back out and came in as the listener.

Jonathan: I think it’s because I invited you as a speaker. I added you as a speaker that could be why, but you’re sounding pretty good. How’s it sounding at your end?

Bonnie: Sounds good.

Jonathan: What do you think of the user interface of Spaces? I realize that you’ve just got in here for the first time. What’s your initial impression?

Bonnie: It seems pretty friendly. You go through the initial setup with want to use your microphone and that sort of thing, but then turning on the captions.

Jonathan: It asks you, didn’t it, if you wanted to allow transcripts?

Bonnie: Yes. I guess you don’t have to if you don’t want to.

Jonathan: Hopefully nobody would.

Bonnie: Hopefully no one will do that, yes, hopefully not. I was kind of surprised that it asked, but I guess it has to, but I guess I was surprised it just didn’t do it automatically, but it was really easy to get in and seems pretty user-friendly.

Jonathan: What are you talking on at the moment?

Bonnie: My iPhone.

Jonathan: With a built-in mic?

Bonnie: Well, not the built-in mic, but my headset.

Jonathan: Oh, the EarPods.

Bonnie: Yes.

Jonathan: The ones that plug into the lightning port.

Bonnie: Yes.

Jonathan: Now, I do want to point out that this screen that you will probably spend most of your time on, the speaker screen, is very navigable, I’m going to use my heading gesture, I modified my iPhone because the two-finger flick left and two-finger flick right gesture is not assigned by default. I have defined that to navigate by heading. If you haven’t, you can use your rotor to select headings and then move up and down. When you navigate by heading here, it’s really well structured, so if I go to the top of the screen-

Voiceover: Close button

Jonathan: -there’s the close button at the top of the screen. I do need to flick right-

Voiceover: Search guest, search field. Selected all button.

Jonathan: -and I think now I can navigate by heading.

Voiceover: Heading not found.

Jonathan: Oh, I need to go a bit further.

Voiceover: Speakers button. Listeners button. Removed button. Host heading.

Jonathan: Now, we’re in the host heading. If I go to the next heading-

Voiceover: Speakers heading.

Jonathan: -I’m in the speakers heading, so this is a really quick way for me to zap from the host part of the screen to the speakers part. Now, if I want to check listeners-

Voiceover: Listeners heading.

Jonathan: -I’ve just gone to the next heading-

Voiceover: Zero listeners.

Jonathan: -and I see, thankfully we have zero listeners in this experimental Space as we try and explain it. You can imagine you’re in here. You’re having a quick look at who is listening, and then you want to get back to your speakers to manage that. It’s just a matter of navigating by heading. I far prefer this to the Clubhouse environment where you’ve got a big, long screen with all your listeners. Then you’ve got to go into a separate screen to have a look at your queue of who has raised their hand. This is all done on the one screen.

It is true to say that Clubhouse separates those people who are speakers from listeners, but you do have a completely separate screen for people who have their hands raised and want to come on. This is one less thing to navigate through. I think this is far more efficient.

Bonnie: I just took a look at the transcription, because you can look at it while you’re in the Spaces. It’s not that great.

Jonathan: Well, it’s probably tuned to an American accent, but that’s right. Automated transcripts are pretty dodgy sometimes.

Bonnie: It was calling it the experiential spices.

Jonathan: [laughs]

Bonnie: Instead of heading, it was saying heating.

Jonathan: Yes.

Bonnie: Now we’re in the house. Yes. With the experimental spices.

Jonathan: [laughs]

Bonnie: Because I’m like looking at it and I’m like, “What am I reading?” I was trying to listen to you too, there’s definitely a lag, but it’s great they have it, but it definitely needs some work.

Jonathan: Yes. There is a lag. Well, to be fair, a New Zealand accent may not be the best way to test this, but, yes, first there is a little bit of lag, and second, obviously this is why we don’t use automated transcripts for Mosen At Large’s own transcripts because you just can’t substitute for a real human, but at least they’ve made the effort.

Bonnie: Interesting. I was just looking to see what it said, when I’m talking.

Jonathan: What does it say? Is it better for you?

Bonnie: Now, mine did perfectly, mine it transcribed pretty well.

Jonathan: I would expect that that’s the case. So thanks to Bonnie for her assistance. Spaces appears to be well-designed with accessibility built into the product from its inception. That’s always a good thing. I’ve yet to find an element in the user interface that doesn’t have a text label. The fact that it’s available on both iOS and Android is a big advantage of Spaces over Clubhouse, although at the time of recording, it remains to be seen which will come first, a wider rollout of Clubhouse’s Android app or a relaxation of Twitter’s requirement that you must have at least 600 followers to start a Space. I should emphasize that anybody can participate in a Space regardless of how many followers you have.

Given that Twitter has the features baked into their iOS and Android app now, and they have the infrastructure, I suspect that everyone will be able to start a Space before too long. Twitter also has the advantage of no invitation system, which some people find both convoluted and elitist in Clubhouse, even though Clubhouse has now provided links to club creators so that they can invite people to join in a way that essentially bypasses the invitation process. They can sign up right away now.

I have had people decline to join Clubhouse because the concept of invitations plus the name Clubhouse just sounds snooty and exclusive to them. Both platforms have further work to do to provide robust systems that compensate creators for their time and knowledge, both Spaces and Clubhouse can be used for friends to hang out and that’s a perfectly legitimate use of the function, particularly as many are still dealing with the pandemic. If any of these platforms want to have longevity and attract knowledgeable people who make a living out of sharing that knowledge, there is a lot of work for them both to do.

With Spaces, Twitter seems to be on the right track having announced that they intend for creators to be able to sell tickets to a Space. I like this terminology because everybody instantly understands what it means. It’s language we can relate to. The devil, of course, will be in the detail. How easy will it be to register as a creator? What cuts, if any, might Twitter take of the revenue? Will you be able to have revenue deposited in popular services like PayPal, or will it be necessary to use the banking system? If the latter, it may take some time to scale internationally.

If Twitter gets this right, Spaces has the potential to be yet another new audio force within the blind community. When Spaces rolls out to the web and can therefore be produced with good quality audio equipment on a PC or a Mac, if the monetization is done right, it could lower the barrier to entry for those who have knowledge they want to share, but who may be daunted by the process of setting up a payment gateway and finding ways to spread the word about their events. It might soon be much easier for blind people to create interactive live tutorials that they can be compensated for.

Like Clubhouse, Spaces at the stage does not appear to have the ability to record an event. Seasoned podcasters and audio professionals will be able to do this themselves. The lack of recording and replay capability for everyone is a serious weakness of both platforms. As a listener, it feels disrespectful to me that if work or family commitments prevent me from hearing a Space or a Clubhouse event live, I’m out of luck, unless the creator has the means and ability to record it and publishes it elsewhere. This is a particular issue for Clubhouse in my view, because with Clubhouse, I need to have a separate relationship with the creator of the Clubhouse platform. In other words, there’s no way via Clubhouse itself for me to get a link to a recording of an event, unless I’m in touch with the creator on another platform.

Twitter has the advantage of being a well-established social network. If I follow the Twitter account of the person or entity who created the Space, that account can also be used to tweet a link to audio of the event, if they have the ability to create that audio. Still, it would be far easier if Spaces would allow the creator to give permission for any listener to gain access to the recording that all participants know the event is being recorded and that it’s available after the event, much like we used to call Periscope streams are now.

The lack of recording on these platforms at the moment reminds me of TV before the days of the VCR. Now that was a very, very long time ago and who really wants to go back there? On the surface, it may look like Spaces is a less feature-rich platform than Clubhouse. Clubhouse has clubs, for example, but I think that’s not strictly true because Twitter has Twitter accounts. Let me give you an example. I have my personal Twitter account, plus I have three other Twitter accounts I have varying degrees of interaction with. The Twitter account for this Mosen At Large podcast, the Mushroom FM Twitter account, that’s the voluntary internet radio station I’m a part of, and the Twitter account for the organization, for which I’m CEO in my day job.

All these Twitter accounts can start Spaces of their own right now. Essentially, they are already like clubs on Clubhouse. If I want to be alerted to Spaces they start, all I have to do is follow any of those Twitter accounts and turn notifications on. Once any Twitter account, no matter how many followers, can start a Space, there’s no reason why people can’t set up an account whose primary purpose is the creation of Spaces. Hopefully that will be less necessary if Twitter creates a granular approach to notifications where you can only be notified of Spaces that are started, but not tweets. If you did go down this route, several people could have access to the credentials for that account if appropriate.

By virtue of being on Twitter, the club infrastructure is largely there already. Audio quality on Spaces is quite good. I would say that it is better than the way Clubhouse used to sound, but with Clubhouse’s default audio having recently changed to the medium bandwidth option, I think the services are comparable. However, Clubhouse does have a high quality option. I think that sound a little bit better than Spaces. There is no way at the moment to change the audio quality of Spaces. Doing so on Clubhouse requires you to change it every time you go into a room. Twitter would be wise to offer a high quality stereo option when Spaces come to the web. That would rock and it would attract quality creators who can produce really good audio.

The challenge of any of these services is discovery. How can you find Spaces that you want to be a part of? I would love to see a separate tab in the Twitter app devoted to Spaces where I can review with much greater ease, not just Spaces underway from people I follow, but other Spaces that are in progress that my followers are in, but whose creators I might not be following. We’re not going to see the blind community stop using Clubhouse en masse and moving over to Twitter Spaces overnight, particularly while there’s a requirement to have at least 600 followers before you can start a Space and when scheduling of Space hasn’t been rolled out yet. That limit won’t last forever and scheduling is coming. With excellent attention to accessibility, full iOS, Android support, and web browser support on the way, I don’t think there’s any doubt that Spaces are going to have an impact in our community. I congratulate Twitter for the attention that they have paid to accessibility on this project and throughout all of Twitter in recent times. They’ve hired engineers specifically to tackle accessibility. Some of them are disabled themselves. It’ll be an exciting platform to watch and I, for one, am enjoying the feeling that I am playing a part in the building of the future feature-set of this product.


Narrator: Be the first to know what’s coming in the next episode of Mosen At Large. Opt into the Mosen media list, and receive a brief email on what’s coming so you can get your contribution in ahead of the show. You can stop receiving emails any time. To join, send a blank email to, that’s Stay in the know with Mosen At Large.


Jonathan: To contribute to Mosen At Large, you can email by writing something down or attaching an audio file. Or you can call our listener line, it’s a US number, 864-60-MOSEN. That’s 864-606-6736.

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