What are Spaces?
Since the end of 2020, Twitter Spaces have been a feature of the social media platform, and while they’ve seen great popularity in some cases, some Tweeple may still not be making the most of the multitude of opportunities they can present.
The easiest way to describe them is to liken them to a hybrid of a public speaking forum at an international airport lounge in the guise of a podcast.
How they work
A Space requires only one participant to exist, the Host, but the real magic happens when the host is joined by others in the form of Speakers and Listeners. The Space is given a title by the host that launched it and that will generally give an idea of the type of conversation that will be held between the host and speakers. The title is also what is displayed along with the names of the host and speakers in the
Spaces section of Twitter so that potential participants can choose from the list of ongoing and upcoming talks.
To listen, any user only needs to tap on a Space that tickles their fancy. This will open up a slightly larger tab showing more details of the Space and the current speakers and listener count. There you tap the
Start Listening button to enter the Space and start streaming the audio from the room on your device.
A listener is not restricted to zero input either. They have to ability to show animated emojis over their avatar should they wish to react to what they are hearing. It will show up for all users in the space, regardless of position.
To speak, a user that is already a participant in the Space can tap on the microphone icon in the bottom left corner to
Request to Speak. This will send a notification to the Host/Co-hosts who will then be able to allow or deny your request to “join the stage”. Once on stage, the microphone icon becomes the control to toggle your device microphone on and off so that you can actually speak in the Space and be heard by all.
It is a good idea to make use of the
raised handemoji in the reactions panel when you are a speaker and await your turn to speak, normally granted by the host of the Space.
To host is to be the user that launched the Space in the first place. As host you pick the title, assign co-host and speaker status and generally oversee proceedings. Different people have different styles, so I would definitely recommend mixing it up a bit in other people’s Spaces to get a feel for how to manage a Space well (or not so well).
At the end of the day, you’re the boss in your own Space, so do what you see fit to keep the conversation flowing and let the value flow from exchanges between all participants.
Humans are social creatures and we thrive from interacting with one another. The benefits of getting involved in conversations with other people are endless, but here I will try to give you the best reasons that I think you should grab the mic soon if you haven’t already.
My number 1 takeaway from the numerous Spaces that I have attended was learning. I learned a lot. I tend to get involved with Tech-Twitter Spaces and I have to say that my software development acumen has improved for it. Sitting back and soaking up knowledge by just eavesdropping on the convo between individuals held in high regard in their field alone has been like attending a mini university, but also getting involved and seizing the opportunity to actually ask those people questions that are relevant to my situation has been of unimaginable value.
Variety of Thought
My personal favourite feeling is when I think I know something, and then someone shows me a new angle on it and I feel like I’ve had the blinders taken off. Entering Spaces gives you the opportunity to meet people that share some huge similarities to yourself that also come from totally different walks of life. Exposure to new perspectives is what truly drives a deeper understanding, no matter the subject.
A healthy, back-and-forth style conversation that builds on the similarities and differences of view on a topic can lead to amazing realisations for both those in the conversation and even those just listening. The way conversations can flow from one topic and sub-topic to another leads to connections being made that any one individual might not make by themselves.
I love this because I am the type to obsess over something when I want to learn it and listening to knowledgeable people discuss an idea has often exposed every conceivable corner.
Public Speaking Practice
Many of us wish to advance our career also. That’s very normal. A lot of higher stations require some form of team management and that means you need to be proficient in speaking to more than a few people at once.
That is daunting. More so if you have never done it.
Spaces more often than not are actually Safe Spaces, run by compassionate people.
Think about it. The people organising and speaking on these are giving up their time to give back to a community in some way. Each of these people have been a beginner at something at some point, they know how it can feel. I have always, always, always only ever seen hosts and co-hosts giving encouragement, time and (not a pun) space for a first time speaker to come onto the stage and address the audience in the room.
If you are lucky enough to join one of the Spaces actually geared toward getting first-timers up to speak and introduce themselves, you may even get some immediate feedback on how you did that you can take away, think about and try to apply the next time you are up. If you are here from Tech-Twitter then you know about taking an iterative approach, and all iterations must start somewhere.
Spaces are all about people talking to people. They are the definition of networking on a social network. Double network!
A number of Spaces exist to not only get first-timers to pop their Space-Cherry, but to make themselves known to those that may be looking to connect with other developers. Some Spaces have gained a good reputation for this and getting up and introducing yourself has the potential to be as valuable as getting that golden opportunity of an elevator pitch with the CEO of that company you dream of working at.
Not all Spaces are mega-super-serious. Some are just for fun or just a little more of a casual style. If you show up consistently because you gel with a particular group that also show up consistently… well, you’re very likely to become friends. On a site like Twitter that can only work in your favour, thanks to the algorithm noticing your relationships, you’ll all be shown each other’s content more often and be very likely to engage making each of you score a little higher on the Twit-o-meter. Fantastic.
Topics covered in spaces range from zero to absolutely everything. All kinds of things are discussed and go on in them and sometimes you’ll find them as engrossing as your favourite podcasts. I dare even say you might forget about your podcasts all together in favour of the live-action versions going on every day.
I have paid attention to spaces for a few months now, and I see so many improvements in my technical understanding with my work and so many improvements with how I use Twitter. I have listened to and even been a part of some amazing discussions and learnt what would have taken me a year of solid reading to learn in a matter of weeks.
I see them as having huge value, especially when you compare joining a Twitter Space to, say, Netflix binging. It’s the same vibe if not more fun, but the benefits are tangible.
Who to Watch out for
I have a list of Twitter folks that will always draw me into a Space if I see their name on the roster, and I’d like to share them with you because they’re ultimately the reasons for me getting all these good things out of this feature.
- @AxelGarciaK and @hiro_codes
- These guys are always involved in great Spaces on topics like Real Programming (languages like C, Rust and Go), AI and making the most out of Twitter. I’ve gained tonnes of value from them and look forward to learning more from them.
- This guy defines Dev Rel. Highly experienced, excellent succinct advice. Always around and open to questions.
- The host of one of the most valuable regular spaces in Tech-Twitter. Endlessly supportive. If you are gonna start somewhere, Shawn’s “THE HUNT” Space is where it should be.
Of course, there are so, so many but I’d squash all the fun of exploration for you if I told you who else I enjoy talking with in these places! Obviously you should follow me too, @mizouzie, and join any Space you see me in and get involved. You will not regret it!