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Rutledge: Twitter: Another flash-in-the-pan fad like CB radio

By Mark Rutledge

Some of us look at Ashton Kutcher's Twittering conquests and say, "Yep, I remember talking on CB radios."

Playing a 1970s teenager in "That '70s Show" must have left Kutcher, 31, bitter over being born too late to actually experience the CB radio craze.

I can't help but think he might not have jumped so far so soon into the world of microblogging if he'd ever felt a little silly after trading CB jargon with truckers.

I'm not completely sold on the value of "tweeting," the word used to describe telling others, in 140 characters or less, what you happen to be doing right now. I'm just not usually doing anything others would find the least bit interesting.

On its home page, Twitter has this quote from author Eric Nuzum: "If you aren't familiar with Twitter, it is one of those things, like MySpace, that sounds totally ridiculous and stupid when you first hear about it."

That's a big 10-4.

"But once you start using (Twitter)," Nuzum goes on, "you realize how much fun it is."

Sure, and some of us still remember how much fun it was saying, "Breaker, breaker, you got your ears on, good buddy?"

My friend Paul introduced me to the novelty of CB radios about 1974. Neither of us actually owned a CB radio, but we could hear the nearest operators over our toy walkie-talkies.

At close range, the real radios could even hear us. The most fun we had during the entire fad was walking around the neighborhood talking to the CB-equipped. They assumed we were in their CB-savvy club, but we were actually in their front yards with our walkie-talkies.

By the time we were old enough to have real CB radios of our very own, everyone else in the neighborhood had already signed off for good and sold their equipment in the yard sale.

I thought about the fleeting nature of new technology while watching Kutcher on CNN walking the streets of Atlanta in search of Ted Turner.

He had promised to "ding-dong ditch" the CNN founder's house after winning a race with the network last month to be the first to gain 1 million followers on Twitter.

Since he couldn't bring a camera crew and a crowd of fans to ring Turner's actual doorbell, he brought them to Ted's Montana Grill, a restaurant named after Turner.

As Kutcher stood in front of a restaurant where Turner was not, talking about his victory over a network with which Turner no longer is affiliated, I noticed one very interesting thing that Kutcher happened to be doing at that very moment.

He was using a hand-held communication device, and it was neither an iPhone nor a Blackberry. It was, of all things, a walkie-talkie.

Now there's a nice, comfortable piece of modern technology even Ted Turner would know how to use.

Rutledge writes for The Daily Reflector in Greenville, N.C.

NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE

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