What’s In a Name? – Lessons the internet can learn from CB Radio

WHEN I WAS A LAD we looked across the pond green with envy. For the Land of the Free was also the home of Citizens Band radio. Connecting a nation of truckers and fellow travellers together with some wires and brown-boxed circuitry, CB promised unfettered communication to all – rather like the internet does now.

And just like on the internet, CB chatters used amusing ‘handles’ like World Famous Eyeballer and County Mounty. But it seems that the days of anonymous web use and made-up-names in blogs and other social media may be coming to the end of the road.

Both Facebook and Google argue that the use of fake and multiple identities weakens the web experience. Others disagree. “The desire to clean up the web, civilize it, and sterlize it pisses me off. I hate it.” said blogger Fred Wilson. “The Zuckerbergs can run a sterile community on the web if they want. That’s just fine. But to suggest that real names is the source of their success it to learn the wrong lessons from Facebook.”

We’re with Mr Wilson, or 10-4 as our CB buddies might say. Aside from the overbearing assault on freedom of expression – including the ability of citizens to anonymously help usurp authoritarian regimes as witnessed in the Arab Spring – life would be a fair measure duller without our old friend @imlondonbridge and his ilk.

Peter Clee (aka Poor Trash Clee according to the CB Handle Generator)