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What the Hashtag is up with that punctuation?
March 14, 2009 2:55 PM   Subscribe

What the Hashtag?! is a Twitter wiki (a twiki?) that explains most of those inscrutable acronyms and helps users find the sweetest tweets on any given topic. If you set up the TwitterBot, you can investigate hashtags on the fly. For other topics, though, you may wish to tweet your local librarian.
posted by GrammarMoses (46 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
Tweets? Aagh. Must. Not. Poke. Out. Eyes.
posted by jester69 at 2:59 PM on March 14, 2009


#twittercomplaints make me lol RT @jester69 Aagh. Must. Not. Poke. Out. Eyes.
posted by mullacc at 3:14 PM on March 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


When tags take more bytes than the content, something's deeply amiss.
posted by Malor at 3:23 PM on March 14, 2009


#notatsxsw
posted by sidereal at 3:40 PM on March 14, 2009 [3 favorites]


Similar idea, better (IMHO) execution: Tagal.us, "Get and set definitions for #tags - A dictionary for (hash)tags".
posted by djwudi at 3:48 PM on March 14, 2009


Twitter may have some utility but the hype is idiotic. Can I officially coin the term 'twidiots' to refer to people who have swallowed this ridiculous hypestream. There are only 595 hits on Google, so practically original. 'twitiots' only has 188 hits, but I prefer the d spelling.
posted by delmoi at 4:05 PM on March 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


Maybe it's because I'm so used to twitter, but I don't see where the hype is. I am supposedly the demographic that twitter is trying to capture, and I have no "offline friends" who have twitter. I certainly don't try to push it. A lot of the anger at twitter feels a bit axe-grindy - "You're talking about something you do with your friends? HOW DARE YOU HYPE!"

Though if you're going to judge an application based on the cheesy and worshipful write-ups it gets in mainstream media...
posted by Phire at 4:09 PM on March 14, 2009 [4 favorites]


It's sort of becoming the default medium for chatting between my mates and I, but I can't be doing with all this # business or hype. Or the level of freindswhoring that makes MySpace or Facebook look tame. And people who go deliberately looking at twitter feeds of people they don't know are just weird.
posted by Artw at 4:20 PM on March 14, 2009


Seriously, is someone spending big bucks advertising twitter lately? I cannot understand all this kerfuffle.
posted by Dmenet at 4:24 PM on March 14, 2009


@delmoi Won't "twits" do?
posted by robcorr at 4:31 PM on March 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


Seriously, is someone spending big bucks advertising twitter lately? I cannot understand all this kerfuffle.

It's all about P Twitty.

He is totally like my new spiritual guru.
posted by First Post at 4:34 PM on March 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


but I don't see where the hype is.

Coincidentally, I just walked through the living room where Mrs U had Entertainment Tonight on. "CELEBRITY TWITTERS--WHO TWEETS?"

^ Some of the hype you were looking for.

I actually don't care about the hype (although I'm not dishonest enough to claim there isn't any). What I don't get is...why would I use something so poorly designed? There's no way to reply other than "@someguy blah" and hope he reads it? And I can't get a feed of tweets to any useful medium (rss subs take up to 12 hours to refresh). Twitter seems ideally designed to replicate television (one way communication of very little content) only even more restrictedly.
posted by DU at 4:38 PM on March 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


Wait a second.

but I don't see where the hype is

followed by

cheesy and worshipful write-ups it gets in mainstream media

?
posted by DU at 4:39 PM on March 14, 2009


Say what you want, but Shaq is having a good time and it's fun and entertaining watching his page. Suns are out of the playoffs but Shaq is awesome.
posted by cashman at 4:45 PM on March 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


I guess what I was trying to say is that I recognize that mainstream media will pick up a few internet trends and try to sell it as the Next! Big! Thing! But that, in my mind, is different from the absolute viral way a website like Facebook will spread through an entire population segment to the point where it is constructed as the norm and anyone without a Facebook profile was considered on the fringe. Within the span of three months, I went from never having heard the term Facebook to being ridiculed because I hadn't joined up yet. That, to me, is overrated hype, since for the first year or so when I was on Facebook, it added almost no utility to my life other than as a "friends aggregator" and to ward off stupid remarks.

But it's probably a definitional thing.
posted by Phire at 4:45 PM on March 14, 2009


And yes, I recognize that YMMV etc.
posted by Phire at 4:46 PM on March 14, 2009


Agreed w/Artw. I work with open source software as part of my job, and there are a number of widely dispersed folks that it's nice to keep casually in touch with but not invest lots of one-on-one time staying current. Twitter is a perfect middle-ground between the ephemeral flow of IRC, the directness of IM, and the 'Read mine if you care to' opt-in quality of blogging.

The second interesting and useful part is the API. Enough services now tie into Twitter that being able to pipe a random message to a twitter account via the command line, or being able to parse a twitter account's messages via a python script as they're posted, makes wiring together loosely connected 1:N notification networks pretty easy.

Does this make it the best new thing? Does this make it something your mom should use? No. Does it make it something you should use if you don't already care? Nope. But the hatred of twitter seems to be no different than the hatred of blogging -- folks who dislike it muttering about 'my cat just meowed' posts are right! Those blogs are boring. Those twitter users are boring. I don't follow them. Simple enough.
posted by verb at 4:49 PM on March 14, 2009 [6 favorites]


Twitter is definitely going way more mainstream here in Toronto, based on the number of people to have joined recently. The mayor is on twitter, and there was an article in the Toronto Star about it, which might have been what has pushed things forward so much.

Twitter is actually surprisingly useful, once you follow about 50 people or so I think. Then you can ask questions and usually get answers. And it's generally a good way to figure out if people are up to anything interesting, or are near by. I guess it depends on who you are following to some extent.
posted by chunking express at 4:54 PM on March 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


I see twitter becoming more mainstream all the time. It's social, yes, as chunking points out, but it's also basically utilitarian. My local news radio station, Congressman, Senator, Chamber of Commerce, and most major papers all have feeds. I think it's become a pretty useful tool -- it all depends on how you use it.
posted by dhartung at 5:06 PM on March 14, 2009


What irritates me about twitter is that it's such garbage. Hashtags, tinyurls, @messages, all of which take up your 140 characters. We have high-bandwidth internet everywhere and somehow we're stuck with these 140 character messages? Because cellphone companies used their incumbent status to foist shitty services on their customers (text messages, ringtones) that they could overcharge for.
posted by delmoi at 5:06 PM on March 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


I like Twitter. Apparently, I am not alone. I find it addictive, mildly entertaining and a not all that bad way to communicate with my friends both online and IRL. I like the way everyone is kept brief and to the point. And I even follow one celebrity, Pat Graham, the Modest Mouse photographer, whose work I like and who sold a bike on Twitter tonight that I might well have bought if I lived anywhere near Boston and wanted a bike and had $200. Useful, you see.

So I don't get the twitter hate; it's not like Facebook, where you get beaten over the head by thugs in dark suits wielding socks full of old computer bits if you won't succumb and use it. It's just a small kind of nifty thing.
posted by mygothlaundry at 5:09 PM on March 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


delmoi: "What irritates me about twitter is that it's such garbage. Hashtags, tinyurls, @messages, all of which take up your 140 characters. We have high-bandwidth internet everywhere and somehow we're stuck with these 140 character messages? Because cellphone companies used their incumbent status to foist shitty services on their customers (text messages, ringtones) that they could overcharge for."

At the same time, it keeps each update to the point. Good for short chats with people you might not know very well, but well enough to want to get to know better.

Oh, and Twitter does allow you the option of seeing who's replied to you, so it's not completely user-unfriendly.
posted by Phire at 5:12 PM on March 14, 2009


Twiki?
posted by Faint of Butt at 5:36 PM on March 14, 2009


DU: What I don't get is...why would I use something so poorly designed? There's no way to reply other than "@someguy blah" and hope he reads it?

I hear you. My wife had a heart attack, and promptly twittered me. Unfortunately, I didn't check my tweets until an hour later. An hour I wish I had back.

When will people learn? Twitter kills, dammit!
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 6:23 PM on March 14, 2009


Hashtags are fun for creating short-lived little memestorms, like:

"Italians who eat at The Olive Garden" #dwindlingpopulations

"Guys who wank to Melanie Griffith" #dwindlingpopulations

People instinctively get it, grab it and run with it for a few days, and it's amusing, and then it just evaporates naturally, and no one is really the worse for it. Open Mike Night at the comedy club. You can look up the tags later for a chuckle.

For the haters: I won't pretend that sudden, ubiquitous hype is not irritating. I understand.
posted by sidereal at 6:46 PM on March 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


sidereal: Hashtags are fun for creating short-lived little memestorms...

Meh, sometimes. For every #giantblueglowingcock there's a #blackoutirl

Like every tool, it depends who's using it, and why.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 6:55 PM on March 14, 2009


ChurchHatesTucker - on this we agree.
posted by sidereal at 7:27 PM on March 14, 2009


I do not like Twitter.
posted by killdevil at 7:41 PM on March 14, 2009


I was reading about the guy who started Twitter in this NYT article the other day, and this bit stuck out to me in helping make sense of the silly hype it's been getting lately:

When people ask me when Twitter will make money, I tell them, “In due time.” They forget that we’re only 30 employees who have just gotten started. Right now, anything we would do to make money would take our time away from acquiring more users. We have patient investors.

I take this to mean they're probably trying to build up the twitter army before selling them all off to the highest bidder ala Myspace, etc.
posted by p3t3 at 8:02 PM on March 14, 2009


I too would like to talk about why you're wrong for liking something that I don't.
posted by middleclasstool at 8:05 PM on March 14, 2009 [3 favorites]


I was reading about the guy who started Twitter

This guy.

I take this to mean they're probably trying to build up the twitter army before selling them all off

Well, duh.

We have high-bandwidth internet everywhere and somehow we're stuck with these 140 character messages?

Right. If you need more gyob. It's like asking 'why ride a bicycle when I could ride a car'. Similar but different.

The hype is irritating, yes, but so are the haters. Because it has no value to YOU, does not mean it has no value to OTHERS. Honestly, this is a simple concept to grasp.
posted by Dennis Murphy at 8:15 PM on March 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


I was a Twitter hater till I actually started using it - very powerful crowd sourcing stuff.

2 examples:

* Am a juror at an upcoming film fest. I want to know the buzz out there re: what's been lighting up festivals? So I ask on Twitter. Since the people that follow me are film fans, work in the industry, actually are tweeting at festivals, etc., I get quality responses - better than typing "what's the buzz at this year's film festivals in Google"

* a site of mine wasn't rendering properly on my browser. Sent a message out on Twitter - "anybody out there having a problem" - within seconds I get messages from all the world, people telling me the site is fine and letting me know what browser/pc they have etc. - If i had to use email to do this = time consuming - and then people would have to follow up since they got a mail etc.,; one of the reason's Twitter's so powerful is that you're not bothering anybody - if they happen to see the Tweet and it's relevant they can respond.
posted by jettloe at 8:28 PM on March 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


I used to crank about Twitter. I cranked about it here and the fact that a few people I respected said "stop the hate, it's not what you think" caused me to give it more of a try. After I started using it, in earnest, I stopped cranking about it. It's something I find really useful for both work and personal life.

It's social, yes, as chunking points out, but it's also basically utilitarian.

In this respect, I think it compares most to CB radio. First of all, people using it have different purposes for using it - some are purely social, some are tracking celebs, some are tracking breaking news or finance, some are posting pointers to blog entries, academic papers, webcasts, etc. It's not the "OMG I just ate a yummy sandwich" I once thought it was, though you can have all of that you want. Second, like CB, it's about who you 'tune' to - who you choose to follow. You can be with the bears on 9 or the rebel truckers on 11. Once you've assembled a good set of people to follow, who post things that interest you or that you can use, you can cruise and enjoy the flow of content. It introduces a fantastic level of serendipity into my usually overplanned workdays. It can alert you to changing conditions and events. It can cause you to change course. It's very conversational, but at the same time, quite undemanding of your time.

And I now use it for work. People at my level in my field are by definition geographically spread around the world and usually isolated in their own institutions (not many peer-level peple). Also by definition we are too busy - far too busy to have long discussions in blog posts or comments or on forums. I had to abandon my own museum blog because my museum kept me too busy - that kinda thing. However, we can type a couple lines of text pointing to a great article, blog entry, new exhibit, or whatever. Consequently I feel more involved with my own profession, as a whole, than I did a year ago.

it's also been great for local community building, kind of in the opposite way it works for my profession. I follow the bookstore and the local paper and a couple nonprofits, and tweet for my own nonprofit as well. It lets you know about sudden happenings and deals and gooses event attendance.

So I think the hate is pretty much lack of understanding. Hype is also lack of understanding. It's pretty cool, but it is such a flexible tool, going in so many directions, that it's not really possible to hate on it as a whole. It'd be akin to saying "I hate books" or "I hate food." It helps, first, to know what the content is of what you're hating. The other thing is that a lot of people will say "I tried Twitter, I just couldn't see the use" and it turns out they followed, like, 10 people and never posted anything interesting. Of course that's boring; garbage in, garbage out.

There are probably a lot of people who have no use for Twitter, which is fine. But that's no reason for the vociferous hate, either.

The Guides from the librarian link do a good job of describing some ways I've already seen Twitter be useful in nonprofits.
posted by Miko at 8:40 PM on March 14, 2009 [5 favorites]


I really enjoy using Twitter. I have never tried to convert anyone else to using it, because it's not suited to everyone. I work in web development, and have found it both amusing and useful for my day job. If you don't need or want that kind of interaction, then that's just lovely and as long as you don't shit all over every mention of a word that starts with "tw..." then I'm very happy for you.

And if it's the hype that's bugging you, not Twitter itself, then I'm afraid I've got no sympathy for you at all. I don't watch or read the kind of crappy mainstream media that relies on finding and promoting the Next Big Thing until it dies from over-exposure, so hype doesn't bother me. And if that kind of infomercial bothers you, then switch the channel or turn the page, and quit bitching about it.
posted by harriet vane at 9:24 PM on March 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


I too would like to talk about why you're wrong for liking something that I don't.

And I too would like to talk about why you're wrong for not liking something that I do.

I don't have a problem with Twitter the service, I have an account I don't really utilize. I am primarily annoyed by all the twee little phrases. That, and people using @ and # stuff outside twitter, where it is extraneous. I am hoping the rest of the net doesn't get completely infected with twitter culture and memes. Oh well, its probably too late already.
posted by jester69 at 9:34 PM on March 14, 2009


I like Twitter as a much much lower maintenance alternative to having a blog. The problem is my blog had 99% uptime, lately Twitter shows the "technical issues..." page 75% of the time I try and use it.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 10:04 PM on March 14, 2009


i love "teh twitter".

for me it's a performative space
that i sort-ofkind-of use for
improvisational stand up

i use hashtags as part of my riffs
so if am writing about how am
#notatsxsw and how am a #sxsworphan
or how #youredoingitwrong hating on
twitter or how it's #fuckingdistracting to
read over and over all the #waahwaahwaah
about it in the blue, then hashtags allow
me to say it in a way that pokes the medium
while using it

#fuckyeah

#FTMFW

#amatweetardsofuckingwhat

i've become notorious in twitter for my
use of hashtags

:)

ps : am at http://twitter.com/blogdiva
posted by liza at 10:37 PM on March 14, 2009


Should have been called "octothorpetag". Get off my lawn!
posted by lalas at 2:00 AM on March 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Just tweeted my first minor celebrity... hey, I only follow them to get release dates and stuff, and it was an appeal for information. I'm not stalking them, honest!

Oh and David Lynch rules twitter... a daily weather report and zen-like pithy bit of wisdom ftw!
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 5:26 AM on March 15, 2009


Oh and I mainly find it a better way of keeping up with friends than facebook
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 5:26 AM on March 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


In the context of Wikis, TWiki is actually a well-established open-source Wiki with lots of business-friendly features.

Its development has recently forked due to political shenanigans with most of the developer community jumping over to the Foswiki Project.
posted by cleancut at 7:32 AM on March 15, 2009


People who post their twitter conversations to blogs: Please stop, it's obnoxious.
posted by Artw at 10:42 PM on March 15, 2009


WHAT THE HASHTAG IS???
posted by joecacti at 9:07 AM on March 16, 2009


People who post their twitter conversations to blogs: Please stop, it's obnoxious.

Also, it's tiresome when people say "read the Twitter feed to see what happened at our event!" Rarely does the mishmosh of short statements resolve into a sensical summation of the event for anyone who wasn't there. Write it up for us, please.
posted by Miko at 9:21 AM on March 16, 2009


Rarely does the mishmosh of short statements resolve into a sensical summation of the event for anyone who wasn't there.

I think there's a general MST3K Fallacy that these things (along with e.g. IRC transcripts, webcam diaries, family home movies, etc) fall into—the conflation on the part of a participant of their subjective experience of an event and the recorded artifact of the event.

People tend to think that funny in-the-moment running commentary with their friends is automatically likely to be funny commentary after the fact to arbitrary readers/viewers. And so you end up with dull, catastrophic homemade videos of Funny Riffing, etc. There's no critical structure, so most folks don't have to deal with much negative pushback on how lousy it is; and there's no audience, so there's not much motivation to keep at it beyond the first few abortive attempts.

A few folks might actually (a) review their own work under a harsh light, (b) identify the problems with it, and (c) find the editorial wherewithal to get better at it and develop something more watchable/readable in the process, but everybody else probably just cuts it out to avoid the sense of vague embarrassment of reaching beyond their comedic/dramatic grasp.

Of course, doing a video takes more time and effort than IMing or twittering or farting around in IRC; this latter stuff doesn't require the same amount of effort and so doesn't require the same amount of motivation to start doing or to keep at, so it's easier for people to lazily/cluelessly keep churning out meh stuff.

Which, I mean, it's easy for people to project their happy or emotionally-charged memories of something they were involved in onto whatever document of it exists—they don't feel obliged to assess the document objectively or try to identify any key context. And when you throw in something new in terms of medium or format (webcams, youtube, blogs, twitter, whatever the new shiny is) it's more understandable that it happens in volume.

People are always learning to edit or shut up, but new people are always bursting newly onto the stage, too, so we're probably stuck with this stuff pretty much forever.
posted by cortex at 3:25 PM on March 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


There are so many greasemonkey scripts for ENHANCING hashtags, and not a one for, um, HIDING certain hashtagged tweets. It WOULD be nice to filter out tweets with certain hashtags. #sxsw is making Twitter unreadable this week, at least in my circle of contacts (whom I otherwsise adore)

And now, unless this thread is really finished, you make the Twitter != Readable snark. Make it a good one, people are folding their librettos and eyeing the exits.
posted by sidereal at 3:33 PM on March 16, 2009


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