[Air-L] Musing on the Rise and fall of Social Networking - the CB radio example
Alex at islands.vi
Mon Dec 17 08:31:10 PST 2007
I just used the CMC issue as cannon fodder for my CMC class.
despite the snarky article, We are on a hot topic.
I reviewed the article that Barry Wellman raised ...
::"An Unmanageable Circle of Friends: Social-Network Sites Inundate Us with
::Connections, and that can be Alienating." Washington Post, August 26,
::2007, p. M10.
I am struck with a thought and wonder if anyone has examined this...
Will Social networking suddenly fall out of favor...?
Is it a fad that will soon clog up and be useless...
I had to ask if there is a parallel phenomena from the past that might shed
light on the eventual demise of Facebook, MySpace and other social
networking sites. And the clogging up of the channel reminded e of the rise
and fall of CB radio
Back in the 1980's (aye, I am old enough to remember) there was a short
lived enthusiasm for CB radio.
A set of converging events led to a burst of use and then as sudden a
NB: This is pre-cell phones, pre-computers, pre-wireless era. There was a
fuel crisis that jacked up the price of gasoline virtually overnight...
meanwhile the FCC liberalized the process of getting a CB license, the units
became less expensive and there was a surge of enthusiasm, the fuel
shortages of that era contributed because as drivers worked collectively to
avoid speed traps so they could beat the 55 MPH limits...
It started with truck drivers and the pop culture of truckers spread the
phenom to non-truckers and pretty soon millions of ordinary drivers had
installed CB radios. In this pre-Cell Phone era, having a way to
communicate from a car was perceived as useful and tens of thousands of the
CB radios were installed each month for a few short years. A surge in pop
culture around CB radio was entwined with the growth of its use... hit
songs, hit movies with CB radio themes and many people memorized the "Ten's
Code" with rhyming phrases cropping up in pop culture... "10-4 Back door"
"What's Yer 10-20 good buddy" Popular magazines carried stores and TV shows
came into mainstream with CB themes. In short, a convergence of events led
to a surge of use and enthusiasm for a communication tool that captured
The phenom sputtered just as quickly as it started. Too many people all
using the same channels clogged it up and in short order the utility of the
CB radio diminished by dint of overuse. It was hard to get a clear channel,
the upsurge of use meant many users were clumsy and did not follow the
etiquette and the channels became unusable. truckers switched to other
radio forms and within a few years all the CB radios seemed to be gone. In
the 90's they were garage sale items (though I admit I am nowhere near an
Interstate and can't see if cars still carry CB antennas or if there is a
cluster of ardent users still on the roads.)
There is a lesson here: "Too dense a population all using the same channel
makes that channel unusable."
A Clog principle I wonder if social networking will suffer from this kind
of Clog phenomena.
Will is suddenly fade when too many people have too many friends to manage
I wonder if Social Networking will parallel this course. Are we soon to find
that so many people have so many friends that the lists are unmanageable?
The density of use makes the whole channel clogged with chatter. More and
more flow with less and less content?
Related: "If everyone is bogging, who is left to read any of it? "
Professor of Communication
University of the Virgin Islands.
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