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What is “Clubhouse” and Why is it The Next Big Thing in Social Media Networks?

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Above: Photo Collage / Lynxotic / Adobe Stock

Getting more buzz daily and sign-ups continue to accelerate

Clubhouse is a fast growing “new” social media sensation that is growing at an amazing rate. It is also constantly morphing in an endless kaleidoscopic experience that comes from an amazing new technology: the conference call.

Exploring the paradox that having no gifs, no photos, no memes, not even a string of text is now the most added social app with the biggest buzz is as good a starting point as any.

Imagine you are unable to text, unable to send or post a photo, unable to speak unless you are called up or invited to be on on stage, need to use your real name for sign-up and must adhere to the specified topics and protocols of each room.

Read more: Mark Zuckerberg Joins ClubHouse: Crashes the App (for a short time)

Sounds restrictive right? But it is this very contrast with other forms of social media that seems, for many, liberating, even transcendent. Once you realize that you are in a room with, in some cases, 12 or so people on stage and thousands of people listening in the audience, its a bit like a panel discussion, but in a smaller rooms it’s like a small gang in Philly circled around an oil drum fire chatting (or conspiring as it were) while they rub their hands together to keep warm.

Next, imagine, in a few years, when apple’s “Animoji” capability is added, perhaps with a body, the ability to walk around with some scenic backgrounds and you have “Ready Player One” in real life.

Obviously gaming platforms approximate this but for non-gamers, as the tech sophistication advances, it becomes more viable and interesting. And it’s the enthusiasm from the public exploding for the speech only version of this that could be key in hastening the realization.

Read more: Apple CEO Tim Cook: ‘A social dilemma, cannot be allowed to become a social catastrophe’

On the other hand, clubhouse users are raving about, while others are lamenting, the intense intimacy that comes with speaking to, or sometimes whispering in, each other’s ears. The ASMR version of a conference call. With an audience.

There are also music rooms and a music mode – a higher fidelity version of a room where singing playing instruments and more is possible. The idea is to eventually do concerts (possibly paid) and even live collaborations and more.

The phenomenal nature and accelerated adoption since the launch is is perhaps just as much a reaction to the chaos and collisions that are so ubiquitous on platforms like Twitter, Instagram and others, as it is a fascination with the “new-yet-old” options enabled by the Clubhouse technology.


Users Date

1,500 May 2020

600,000 December 2020

2 million January 2021

6 million February 2021

Sources: TechCrunch, New York Times, Mashable, CNBC, Medium.


Add to all the the perfect synchronicity of the first lockdown phase of the pandemic corresponding to the initial public launch in March, 2020 and you have a historic paradigm shift that may well carry forward for years or even decades. Adaptation to new ways of communicating as a necessity and a natural next step.

Read more: The Social Dilemma 2.0: Follow the Money Edition

How to get your account set up and what’s what in the app

For a basic breakdown: the app is audio only. Once you are invited (or get on the waiting list and are let in by a sponsor) and ready to set up your account you will be prompted for the usual things, user name, real name, bio, phone number and so forth. You can also direct connect a live link Twitter and Instagram accounts, which is where the “DMs” have to happen since the app has no built in messaging.

Read more: Facebook, Google, Antitrust and the All Pervasive Underestimation of the Big Tech Threat

Once is you will see there are “rooms” and “clubs”. Rooms are always available and can be joined or created by all members. If you join a “live” room you are, as default, put into the “audience” which has two sub-sections: the “followed by the speakers” section which gives you a kind of front row seat, and the “non-followed” regular audience. The audience members have no microphone button and cannot speak without it.

To become a speaker you can click on a “hand” symbol which activates “raise your hand” allowing any “moderator” (designated with a “green bean” asterisk icon) to invite you to the “stage”, which is where the speakers reside.

The moderators do have the power to interrupt a speaker or even kick a speaker back to the audience, thereby removing any speaking privileges.

Read more: Spacex’s Starlink Broadband Speed Goal just went into the Stratosphere

The magic of the app is in this structure, clubhouse etiquette, and the ability to have multi-minds from all walks of life that, generally, choose a topic for the room and then, with the guidance of the moderators, get input from various speakers on stage.

“Clubs” are like permanent rooms that also have signed-up members (some have thousands or tens of thousands of them) and these often have scheduled sessions, weekly, daily or otherwise, in advance.


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Adobe introduces document collaboration for Docs to Photoshop, Illustrator and Fresco

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Easily share access and see version history on mac and iOS 

According to Adobe, in its blog post, shared about the collaboration: 

“Starting today, we make collaborating with others when working together on Photoshop and Illustrator documents much easier with the new Invite to Edit feature. This is a huge time saver for teams working on shared projects. Plus, we introduce Preset Sync in Photoshop.”

Read More: Books on Adobe Premiere, Final Cut Pro X and DaVinci Resolve for content creators

The new update to Adobe using its invitation to Edit feature within Photoshop, Illustrator and Fresco, will allow users to edit unsynchronized edits among various platforms: desktop, iPhone, and iPhone (Fresco).  That also means, collaborative work can more easily be edited as a shared cloud document, one at a time.  

 By saving your Photoshop (.PSD) or Illustrator files (.AI) as cloud documents, you can send invitations for others to edit.  Also possible, you can edit filed that have been shared with you.  Cloud documents can be accessible via assets.adobe.com as well as on the Creative Cloud desktop application. 

In addition, you can now Preset sync in Photoshop 

According to Adobe

Now you can sync your Photoshop presets wherever you use Photoshop. This includes brushes, swatches, gradients, patterns, styles and shapes. Preset Sync is shipping today in the desktop version on Mac and Windows, and synced brushes will be coming soon on the iPad version. You are now able to turn preset syncing on and off, and your preferences — the folder structure, the grouping and order of your presets are retained across devices. Any management you have done will be synced — set it and forget it!


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2021 CES will be an all Virtual Conference and you can View it too

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 Zoom panels, product unveilings all to take place while you have no pants

This year CES2021 is scheduled from Monday January 11-14. It’s a bit later than usual due to lot and lots of strange things happening in the world, and, oh yes, cause they had to shrink it into a phone-sized screen, or at least a zoom-panel for your desktop.

While attempting to put a happy face on it all the exhibitors described it thusly: ”an all-digital experience connecting exhibitors, customers, thought leaders and media from around the world. The new format will allow participants to hear from technology innovators, see cutting-edge technologies and the latest product launches, and engage with global brands and startups from around the world.

In all seriousness if you want to check out the new gadgets, trends and progress you can now attend without “borrowing” somebodies pass who had to leave a day or two early. Wuuhuu! An infinite virtual exhibit hall will be replacing the 3 million square feet of actual exhibition space, but the more than 100,000 attendees will not be renting rooms in Vegas.

Or getting room service on the company tab, or watching pay-per-view from same said tab. Which is all not great for Vegas – but there will be better news next year – we hope seriously and sincerely.

As for this year let’s try to get the hang of this whole virtual thing! There are almost 2,000 exhibits for 2021 CES, to see the in detail, check out CES exhibitor list.

We can recommend, for those who will not register as an official attendee to view the action on CNET’s livestream. They’ll be broadcasting all day on Monday, Jan. 11 and you can follow along for press conferences, product reveals, a CES keynote presentation and expert commentary from the editors and hosts.

At least one special treat for attendees will be iHeartMedia’s exclusive performance by Billie Eilish as part of CES2021:


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AI, Machine Learning and Neural Filters Astound in Photoshop 2021

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Above: Photo Collage / Lynxotic / Adobe

Adobe has added some significant updates to Photoshop in the last 6 months. As a daily user in a digital publishing environment, we have been able to test and use many of the new features in a real-world setting. 

By way of some general background. I was a user of the CS4 bundle up until 2013 when the Creative Cloud system first launched. At first the idea of paying a monthly subscription fee rather than upgrading only when “absolutely necessary” was not immediately a comforting proposition.

However, over time the improvements, along with the huge list of including software, in addition to Photoshop, won me over. 

Adobe does face steep competition from Affinity Photo, which continues to have the “buy once-use-forever” model and also has free updates quite often.

We also use Affinity Photo and it is in many ways more user friendly than Photoshop – particularly if you are not already deep into the Adobe software UX.

At the same time, it appears that the competition has only done what competition is supposed to do: made both products better. 

The world changed when the 99% of the labor disappeared from replacing photo backgrounds 

That same competitive marketplace may even be the reason that, during the last year, Adobe’s upgrades have accelerated and become more than just ho-hum superficial changes: they are now mind-blowing, and that on a regular basis. 

Read more: Books on Adobe Premiere, Final Cut Pro X and DaVinci Resolve for content creators

In our shop, it really started to get interesting with the upgrade to the “quick selection tool” in June 2020. A new button was added: “select subject” removed the need to painstakingly manually select a subject (such as a person or object) and the new “select and mask” option opens a fine adjustment window to fine tune the mask.

Very often no further adjustments are needed to separate a subject from the background and then begin background layering and various other typical uses for these features. Once again, the time of this upgrade seemed to coincide with competition: a web based platform (that also built a photoshop plug-in) called Remove BG gained some popularity in late 2019, apparently prompting Adobe to fight back.

“Beginning with Photoshop 21.2 (June 2020 release), Select Subject is now content-aware and applies new custom algorithms when it detects a person is in the image. When creating a selection on portrait images, treatment around hair area has been vastly improved to create a detailed selection of hair.”

— Adobe Support

And fight back they did. The new automated “select subject” system was pretty usable at first release. But the upgrades since then have been nothing less than astounding. Sometimes it seems like the performance of this new system gets better daily, as if stealth over-the-air upgrades are happening outside of the official ones. Probably not but the bottom line is this really reduces the time and effort to nearly zero. 

Naturally, for complex or difficult photos, or for situations where an absolutely perfect high resolution separation (of, say, a very fluffy haired top model for a huge ad campaign etc.) the old, time consuming and labor intensive techniques would be required. 

But for everyday digital news style creative collage applications and any situation where it just have to look realistic (or create a fantasy tableau) it is lightening fast and very very usable. 

Neural and AI based updates have begun and will accelerate big-time in 2021

In October, 2020 Adobe introduced 8 new neural filters to the platform. In the video above you can see the general state of the filters around the time of the release. Without getting into granular detail in text, you can see the highlights and the carious methods of use in the video. 

What I want to emphasize beyond the existence and fascinating implications for these new tools is the fact that they represent just a tiny hint at the potential for these and many more totally new functions and applications that are going to explode on the scene in 2021.

These kinds of new capabilities for photo manipulation software are likely to take years to be absorbed in to the workflow and toolkit of the millions of users across the globe. And, even as we “struggle” to learn how to benefit from the lack of expertise needed to achieve results heretofore either impossible or only realized with many hours of painstaking profession work, new even more mind-blowing upgrades are coming. 

Some examples can be seen in the video below. Additionally there will be a new version of Photoshop available in 2021 to take advantage of the Apple Mac M1 chips and mac OS11 Big Sur.

These will accelerate even more the image manipulation and automated creation options within Photoshop and creative cloud. Honestly, it is now the user, with minimal effort, who will be using imagination and creativity, nearly in isolation, to create previous unimaginable images. Think = do. That’s where this is headed. 


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Amazon declines to join Google, Facebook and Microsoft in French “Tech for Good Call”

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Google and Amazon Logos against a red background

As antitrust suits loom, a digital tax appears as additional government option

Related to French “digital tax” hopes, and which may have future repercussions for other tech related regulation attempts, Google, Microsoft, and Facebook have” signs on for the “Tech for Good Call”. Amazon has declined which Apple continues to negotiate, according to reports. 

A list was released by the French government with signatures of 75 executives of tech companies who have signed up to the initiative so far. Notably, the list included Google CEO Sundar Pichai, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Microsoft President Brad Smith. Amazon’s Jeff Bezos and Apple’s Tim Cook were absent, however. 

Read more: Apple is Coming: Facebook, Amazon and Google Surveillance facing US scrutiny and danger from New Software

For nearly three years President Emmanuel Macron of France has attempted to  convince  tech giants to begin collaborating with governments to seek remedies for a list of global challenges. Examples are; fighting hate speech online, preserving privacy or paying a so-called “digital-tax”, presumably to offset negative economic effects of the overwhelming dominance of big tech.

Reuters reports that Macron’s advisers said on Monday that the president had asked tech companies to sign up to a new initiative called “Tech for Good Call” underlining principles for the post-COVID world. This development comes as “anti-big-tech” sentiment is increasing, particularly during the massive profit spike the giants are enjoying due to a devastating world-wide pandemic.

A general publicity based initiative could be leverage for negotiations to rein in tech giants

Also, according to Reuters, the “Tech for Good Call” includes a non-binding pledge to “contribute fairly to the taxes in countries where (they) operate”; refrain & prevent  the dissemination of “child sexual abuse material, terrorist or extreme violence online contents”; and “support the ecological transition”, in addition to other things.

Read more: Cracks in The Wall: Apple, Google, Amazon and Facebook Silently Declare War

Though not legally binding, it is expected that the French will use this tentative agreement to in negotiations during upcoming global forums on regulating Big Tech.

In addition to antitrust suits underway in the US and Europe, the idea of a “digital tax” is being explored and attempted with France and Australia leading the way.

In an article in today’s Wall Street Journal, citing multiple sources, that federal and state regulators are preparing four or more antitrust cases against the two online giants, separate from the antitrust case that the DOJ and 11 states launched against Google in October

The building chorus for regulation against Google and Facebook stem from the extremely dominant position each holds online, with Google having near total control of search traffic and advertising, while Facebooks monopoly in social media concerns its use of that position to monetize private data through advertising.

Also, according to Reuters, the “Tech for Good Call” includes a non-binding pledge to “contribute fairly to the taxes in countries where (they) operate”; refrain & prevent  the dissemination of “child sexual abuse material, terrorist or extreme violence online contents”; and “support the ecological transition”, in addition to other things.

Read more: Cracks in The Wall: Apple, Google, Amazon and Facebook Silently Declare War

Though not legally binding, it is expected that the French will use this tentative agreement to in negotiations during upcoming global forums on regulating Big Tech.

In addition to antitrust suits underway in the US and Europe, the idea of a “digital tax” is being explored and attempted with France and Australia leading the way.

In an article in today’s Wall Street Journal, citing multiple sources, that federal and state regulators are preparing four or more antitrust cases against the two online giants, separate from the antitrust case that the DOJ and 11 states launched against Google in October

The building chorus for regulation against Google and Facebook stem from the extremely dominant position each holds online, with Google having near total control of search traffic and advertising, while Facebooks monopoly in social media concerns its use of that position to monetize private data through advertising.

“The supportive chorus of elected officials is giving assurance to [the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ)] and the [Federal Trade Commission (FTC)] that they have the political support they need to blunt [the companies’] efforts … to pressure the agencies to back off or water down their cases,” former FTC Chairman William Kovacic told WSJ.


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Find books on PoliticsSustainable EnergyRacial Equality & Justice and many other topics at our sister site: Cherrybooks on Bookshop.org

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Lynxotic may receive a small commission based on any purchases made by following links from this page.

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