Welcome to the Spontaneous Internet - Late Checkout - a Substack by Greg Isenberg

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Lately, I’ve been thinking about how the internet is getting more spontaneous. Posting, liking, commenting and messaging are all slowly morphing into hanging out online. This is changing how we connect with others.

Instead of listening to a podcast, listen in or get invited on stage in a Clubhouse room.

Instead of posting a curated picture on Instagram, post a whole photo roll on Dispo.

Instead of sending texts, DMs or calling friends, start a Discord server that you can all drop in and out of.

Welcome to the spontaneous internet.

Next-generation social has one thing in common

Clubhouse. Discord. Dispo. Parsec. Cappuccino. Honk. What do all of these rapidly-growing apps have in common? They all share my big three qualities of content delivery.

1. Spontaneous. Bring serendipity to the internet.

2. Social. Making the internet friendlier.

3. Raw. Unedited, anything can happen.

These apps also share what I see as two themes of the new social internet:

1. Open Spaces: We hang out in servers/clubs/rooms.

2. In the moment: Live shows and timed access to/release of content brings excitement and spontaneity to the internet.

The success of these apps reminds us that we all want a little more humanity, immediacy and spontaneity in our lives online.

We all want somewhere to hangout on the internet.

What does it mean to hang out online?

Hanging out demands your attention and is in the moment.

Hanging out requires a space to hang out in.

2021 will be a rush to create new online spaces.

Spaces

Clubhouse introduced Rooms.

Discord introduced Servers.

Twitter introduced Spaces.

These new online environments give people the chance to occupy a space that isn’t a timeline.

The questions to ask when building the next big thing for the internet are: How does this improve the experience of hanging out online? Does this give people a space to hang out in?

In the moment

Clubhouse: Listen in

There’s little worse than a mind-numbingly stale podcast. Enter Clubhouse.

On Clubhouse there’s a sense that anything can happen. Raw, unedited conversations keep listeners on their toes. Anyone can raise their hand at any time and potentially be invited on stage.

Imagine watching your favorite dating show and thinking “I could do that”. Well, now you can.

Scheduled shows and special guests build hype and grow audiences. Communities emerge from that fact that if you miss a show, it’s over. You had to have been there.

On the other hand, Clubhouse is already becoming a great place to learn by just listening in.

Discord: Stay a while

Like Clubhouse, Discord outshines what came before it.

Dropping in on a server of friends or like minded folks is fulfilling and immediate. A Discord server is a perfect place to hang out online.

But Discord is less about listening in and more about contributing. Discord servers for everything from video game franchises to restaurant chains invite fans and community members to bring their thoughts and opinions to the platform.

Some servers are like organized clubs in high school while others are more like hanging with your friends in somebody’s parents’ basement. Either way, it’s fun, and you’re an active participant in a welcoming space.

Dispo: Check this out

Meanwhile, Dispo is bringing spontaneity and serendipity to photo sharing.

Take as many photos as you want and drop them on your friends and followers without Instagram style curation. Dispo is lively, optimistic and a bit mysterious.

The timed release of photos every day builds a network of curious users.

Dispo feels like the antidote to polished Instagram feeds of vacation, couple and dog pictures. It’s refreshing to see exactly what’s up in people’s lives without so much curation.

Once again, spontaneity comes out on top, this time with a sprinkle of serendipity and mystery.

Parsec: Remote together

Parsec enables remote access of computers in a network.

Access a work computer from home or game alongside a stranger online who is looking for a second.

Parsec is all about real-time connection.

Cappuccino: Let me tell you...

Cappuccino is all about close relationships and close contact.

Leave a brief message for loved ones that they hear the next morning at 9am. Messages are mixed in together in a “cappuccino” of good vibes for recipients.

In this case, messages aren’t dull emails or quick texts but snippets of a loved one.

The immediacy of someone’s voice is far more intimate and meaningful than words on a screen.

Honk: HONK!

Honk is all about fun, live texting.

It’s a sneak peak into the brain of your closest friends as they type.

Some questions I’ve been asking myself

Imagine navigating the internet alongside your friends. A live, social portal to the web will be a big deal. Instead of surfing the net, dive into it.

What would a digital hang in your parents’ basement look like?

How can an online birthday party be improved?

Where can you and your friends meet for a drink without leaving your homes?

How will we connect with new friends, neighbors and distant family members in the future? Where will we do so?

What does a more spontaneous trip to your favorite e-commerce store look like?

We are going to continue to see new apps tackle old types of content in new ways. The key to success will be designing for immediacy and giving people new places to hang out online.

We need more spaces to occupy with friends online. 2021 is the year to build them.

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Thanks for reading

I hope this post got you thinking of where the internet is headed. At Late Checkout, we’re excited about the future of spontaneous internet.

Reach out at frontdesk@latecheckout.studio if you’d like to explore partnering with our design agency on inventing that future (capacity is limited), looking to sell your company (we’re buying) or interested in joining our team (we’re hiring).

And don’t forget to share this post and subscribe, if you enjoyed reading.

Best,

Greg Isenberg