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Twitter as the CB Radio of today

by David M. Smith  |  September 24, 2010  |  1 Comment


I’m not saying that Twitter is a fad (as some said of the Internet way back when).  Just trying to make some connections. Two recent events (OK, not so recent as they were a few months ago but hey, I’ve been busy and finally decided to do some more blogging…) made me think about twitter and CB radio. Those of you old enough to remember the CB radio craze of the 70s (if not, Google it…) will get it. The two things are:

1. an announcement of Twitter for cars, which is where CB radios were  used (actually started in trucks, where they are still used)..
2. Tibco’s introduction of Tibbr, an enterprise focused twitter like offering (somewhat like yammer, but with a different usage model).

What’s the connection? Its about how these things are/were used.  I’m pointing out some of the similarities regarding what they are/were actually USED for.  Twitter is used for many things including to broadcast lots of information on a public media (the Internet) that can be "tuned into"  various channels, kind of like CB.  Certain channels were used for certain things, by convention, with little formal control. Similarly, Twitter has #hashtags which provide a type of convention as well.  .

Tibbr is somewhat similar to twitter but is designed for internal enterprise use and as such is more focused on following subjects, not just people. This approach may indeed have more direct relevance in a business context (think Web 2.0 style tagging, next gen knowledge management, etc. ).

While many use Twitter to "follow" people, I find that I use it much more to tune in on topics.  Like trending topics and using it to monitor what is being said during an event.  This includes
Gartner events, announcements, trade shows, etc.  Actually I find the most compelling use is to tune into what people are saying during sporting events – it seems to amplify addictive behavior (tweeting and watching sports).  I enjoy watching the Red Sox (even this year) and tuning into the #redsox hashtag on Twitter. I can find out not only what the color commentators are saying, but what they’re not saying and what people are saying about the color commentators. and the commercials.  It really enhances the experience.  Now that we have the emergence of TVs with Internet connectivity and widgets I expect to see this type of activity increase.

What are you using Twitter for? Like CB?


David Mitchell Smith
VP & Gartner Fellow
16 years at Gartner
30 years IT industry

David Mitchell Smith is a vice president and Gartner Fellow in Gartner Research, where he specializes in the impact of catalytic technologies such as the Internet, Web 2.0, cloud computing and consumer technologies. Read Full Bio

Thoughts on Twitter as the CB Radio of today

  1. Katie says:

    YouSendIt uses twitter for many different reasons. We use it as a communication channel, in order for users to easily ask us any questions. We also use it to track conversations that anyone is having about YouSendIt (positive or negative). Finally we use it as a way to push information to our base, such as, product releases, news, or promotions. I am also very interested to see the conversation that will be going on when we attend an event, such as the Gartner ITxpo in Orlando.

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