Tag Archives: Twitter

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;


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


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


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.


Filed under General Technology, Law, Lawyers and Social Media

Will Twitter Spam Ruin Your Reputation?

Yesterday I noticed a near 10% spike in my followers.  You notice something like that.  I thought maybe it was an unexpected response to having my book on conflict resolution published.

It was not.  Instead it was a small army of spam porn accounts complete with embarrassing profile pics and porn links.  That Britney one with the peculiar punctuation and what I think is a hot dog is particularly dangerous.

Spam accounts cause a real problem for a professional using Twitter to communicate. 

A potential client could look at who follows me – why wouldn’t they?  If they see that I am followed by a bunch of porn spammers, what impact does that have on my reputation?

Sure, I can delete, or block, accounts, although the Twitter tools for doing so are slow and fallible.  They keep on coming back.

Now, you and I know that just because someone follows me, does not mean that I am associated with them, but then again you and I are fairly savvy about that sort of stuff.

To a potential client, or referrer, or colleague, I will be judged by the company that I appear to be keeping.

The answer is that I have to manage the followers and ensure that embarrassing contacts are not in there.  This is an unwelcome administrative chore especially when 50 of the scum turn up at once.

I could just leave the stuff up there, but then someone looking at my followers will draw the conclusion that I approve, don’t manage my online reputation, or am simply apathetic. Not quite the image I want to portray.

It becomes impossible for me to demonstrate Twitter, how it works and the like to colleagues or clients because I cannot click through to my followers confident in knowing that there will not be a new porn profile glaring out. 

I cannot even use Twitter, or the followers page at home if my children are around, or my wife for that matter – that is something I would rather not have to explain.

I now need to spend 15 minutes clearing my followers out.  Next time, who knows, I might just clear out altogether.

Twitter, do us a favour, and sort this out. 

Fellow Twitter users, is your followers page ruining your reputation?



Filed under General Technology, Law, Lawyers and Social Media

The relationship between law and tech

It is an interesting day today for musing on the relationship between law and tech.

First was the story about an injunction being served upon a rogue imposter Twitter account.  You can read that story here, from the Guardian.  Interesting to see the machine that is law evolving to adapt to the changing culture.

How would the injunction be enforced though in the face of breach?  Interesting comments can be found also from scotslawyer, attached to that Guardian article.

Secondly, as I write, there is a breaking story about Harry Redknapp, the manager of Tottenham Hotspur, having had his odds slashed with William Hill to evens to be the next premier league manager to lose his job.  Rumours are about that I am not going to repeat here.  But some of the stuff that is being printed about Redknapp, if inaccurate, is going to cause an almighty stink once his lawyers get onto it.  I should imagine the forum moderators are having a next to impossible time trying to keep their messageboards libel free.

How is the law machine going to deal with these kind of wildfire stories in a way which is adequately swift?

There are massive challenges ahead.

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Filed under General Technology, Law, Lawyers and Social Media