Saturday, December 1, 2007

The Year Fades, But Hashtags Remain

Sometimes I exercise restraint in my tweeting (for example, I refrained from tweeting USC-UCLA score updates for Arnold's benefit) and therefore just end up watching the tweets go by.

Stowe Boyd tweet (see his Stowe Boyd's blog):

stoweboyd #No Land For Old Men# was truly great. #coen brothers# 32 minutes ago from twitterrific

I should note that Stowe is a double-fisted hashtagger, who often likes to put hash symbols before and after the tag in question. I don't know if there's a technical reason for this, but it definitely improves the readability.

Sheila Scarborough tweet (see her Sheila Scarborough's blog):

SheilaS @stoweboyd, I have to ask, what do the "#"s mean that you use a lot? 29 minutes ago from web in reply to stoweboyd

Well, if you've paid attention to this blog, you'll know that I've talked about (and used) hashtags in the past. See this October 23 post and this October 30 post for details.

But Stowe obviously knows more about hashtags than I do; in fact, I've linked to Stowe's October 2006 post on the topic. (Ironically, at the time they were called "beacons." Take that, and other Facebook protest types.)

So Mr. Boyd provided an authoritative response to Sheila. Stowe Boyd's response was succinct and all-encompassing:

stoweboyd #hashtags: 28 minutes ago from twitterrific

I wish I knew about this site a month ago. Here's what it offers:

We just implemented an algorithm that scores the tags by activity in the last 48 hours. We will be adjusting the sparklines to reflect that soon. Right now any tags not active in the last 48 hours will fail to show up until they get some activity. Use hashtags to get your tag up there! ;)

What are #hashtags?

#hashtags are an easy way to track a specific topic or event such as the San Diego Fires using the Twitter network. This allows for hyper-instant communication surrounding disaster relief and reporting....

How do I participate?

Sign up for an account on Once you have created an account use # in your tweets and our site will index them. Then to register a new tag for us to track, befriend our hashtags bot and send the message:

d hashtags register # description

I'm not sure what the benefit is of registering hashtags, or even if it's necessary, but if I find out I'll provide an update.

As it turns out, I haven't used any hashtags lately, but you can see above that Stowe Boyd did. Let's check out "#coen brothers#"...or let's not. I couldn't find "coen" or "coen brothers" on the most updated page.

But I did find a #hashtags page (you noticed that Boyd used that particular hashtag at one point):

User Message
mooose (1)
Nov 23, 2007 @terraminds great to hear, that you are now considerung #hashtags ;)
terraminds (1)
Nov 23, 2007 Ok #hashtags fans, we're considering implementing them right away: please let us know what features you want to have for them...
jplummer (1)
Nov 21, 2007 #hashtags The sparklines are a neat idea; interesting to see if use is great enough to get some shape on 'em.
superphly (1)
Nov 20, 2007 Holy shit, I think #hashtags may be up and going soon...
kosmar (1)
Nov 16, 2007 @oliverg best thing ever seen about #hashtags
oliverg (2)
Nov 16, 2007 be prepared for the next #bahnstreik : #hashtags page with RSS:
oliverg (2)
Nov 16, 2007 be prepared for the next #bahnstreik : #hashtags page with RSS:
loriluza (1)
Nov 14, 2007 @RoyBragg ask him if he uses Twitter, too. That would be a GREAT application for #hashtags
colbyworld (2)
Nov 14, 2007 .@jencardew I still can't grok why Twitter doesn't have things like #hashtags and reply links. As a dev I like the challenge but srsly?
colbyworld (2)
Nov 14, 2007 @jencardew I still can't grok why Twitter doesn't have things like #hashtags and reply links. As a dev I like the challenge but srsly?

As you can see, currently appears to have an update problem. But at least the idea's good.

Digging into the issues, I found a reference at the hashtags Twitter page - or, more specifically, in this tweet:

See the blog at for status of the site.

Okey-dokey. Here's part of a November 21 blog post from the aforementioned blog:

We were down for the last 24 hours or so because we forgot to put a file on the server that was needed to generate the sparklines. That really should not take 24 hours to fix. Our apologies to everyone who is checking us out.

That said we should let you in on what we are thinking. We are developing on the production site which means you get to see all the gory details and often broken features as they evolve. We will do our best to make sure things progress positively with each update. However, until our “grand opening” expect everything to be in a very alpha state. Right now the hashtags bot is relatively stable so if you do use hashtags in your twitters they should be caught (assuming twitter sends them our way). So feel free to tag your posts with tags you have registered.

P.S. It's two hours later, and I never did finish up this post. I was involved in a frantic online search for some Christmas presents. I can't say any more about this, in case there are some smart 10-11 year olds who have found my blog and are reading it.

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