Tag Archives: hashtag

I remember my very first Hashtag…

What is a hashtag?

It was back in the winter of 2009.  I was a relative rookie on Twitter, weren’t we all, and snow was falling across the UK.

My twitter page suddenly filled up with people adding what looked like a code onto their messages.  It read;

#uksnow

The “#” prefix is called the hash (mark) and in Twitter messages it is immediately followed, without a space, by topic or issue you are looking to tag, or to flag up.  Together, you have a code called a “Hashtag”

When you hashtag something you make it easy for Twitter users and other search engines to pick out relevent content.

Earlier this year, the #uksnow hashtag became part of the newspapers’ and traditional media’s new fixation with this Twittering cult.  It became possible to search for all tweets from anyone who had used the code, or hashtag, to flag up their UK snow stories.  The press loved it and it thrust a very useful Twitter function into the awareness of many casual Twitter users.

People use hashtags for various reasons.  In my post on Twitterwall and Backchannels it is only possible to run these facilities because of the hashtag.  Everyone who wanted to contribute to the backchannel would insert the code #dellb2b into their relevant comments (which stood for Dell, who were hosting the event, and B2B, referred to the Business to Business title of the event)

The reason that I am writing this post today is to help new followers learn about this thing called the hashtag.  Why today?  Because snow has returned to the UK.  As I write I can track the progress of snow from London, heading West to me in Bath.  When I last checked, it had reached Reading…

For many new users this will be the first time they have noticed the hashtag.  I hope you will find it helpful.

Click on this link to see for yourself what people are saying about #uksnow

http://twitter.com/search?q=%23uksnow#search?q=%23uksnow

Click here to see a UK map showing where snow is being reported using the hashtag.

http://uksnow.benmarsh.co.uk/

You can set up your own hashtag searches.  Other famous ones include #trafigura , #janmoir was a particularly memorable outcry.  I’m guessing, but really cannot be bothered to look that #tigerwoods is also fairly busy still. You can go to your Twitter home page, insert the relevant hastag into a search engine and see what comes up…

Happy hashtagging.

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Filed under An End To Silo Thinking, General Technology

On Twitterwalls and Back-channels…

I thoroughly enjoyed the Dell Business 2 Business Huddle in Bracknell last week.  It was my first experience of attending an event with a Twitterwall and  Backchannel and I have to say it was not encouraging.

For those that do not know, many tech conferences have a projector screen displaying what people are tweeting about the current speaker.  This is something of a cultural issue.  Tech conferences are used to seeing delegates have their laptops, or notebooks, out, tweeting as the speaker delivers his or her keynote.

This ongoing stream of twitter comments is called the Backchannel.

The idea is a good one.  By enabling the audience to comment as the speaker is talking, but via Twitter and therefore not by interrupting the speaker, it is thought that the presentation will be enriched.  Unfortunately that was not my experience.

For long periods of time the backchannel seemed to be populated by people rather defensively reacting to what might have been said; maybe it suggested that the poster’s certain discipline was redundant, or at best overstated and oversold – ahem, Google AdWords…

In other examples there was more playful banter which was amusing enough but did nothing to add to the message being delivered by the speaker.

Others seemed to want to oust the speaker as the selected expert and draw attention to themselves and their opinion.

All of the speakers studiously ignored the stream whilst in delivery although some commented afterwards, perhaps while the follwoing speaker was talking.

I found the dual task of trying to live blog or contribute to the twitterstream and listen to be particularly problematic.

I was enjoying Neville Hobson’s opening “top ten trends” keynote but was alarmed to note that I missed numbers 2-5 as I became absorbed in my laptop.  All in all, the experience suggested that just because we can do something with this technology, does not necessarily mean that we should.

I do not know if this trend will ever catch on in legal conferences and training events. I guess it will not.  I am not even convinced that it will last within the tech conferences. The stories I hear of Twitterwall abuse and banality do nothing to reassure me.

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Filed under General Technology, Law, Lawyers and Social Media