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September 26, 2013

quick backstory on #hashtags

Tags: Everyday Life — 7:30 am Comments (0)

I’d much prefer to make this drunk history of hashtags but I’m not funny and it’s not that interesting. So quick it is. To get the real story you have to ask Chris Messina but I kinda know Chris and kinda saw how this evolved.

Three things about hashtags you need to know are IRC, Foocamp, and Chris (and possibly Stowe Boyd who coined the term).

IRC or Internt Relay Chat is a messaging/chat protocol. You get yourself a chat client, you /attach yourself to a network say irc.mozilla.org and then you join a topic by doing /join #sometopic. And that’s where hashtags came from, it’s how you create a chat room on a specific topic. IRC is popular with software development, it’s just how you get things done. And it’s old school, like really, really old.

Where does Foocamp come in? Well, Foocamp was an adhoc meetup/conference of exclusive tech luminaries (e.g. Google founders and friends) created by Tim O’Reilly who does most of the books and conferences for the Tech industry. It’s exclusive and not open so thus came Barcamp (e.g. foobar or fubar) which was open to everybody. (I wanted to attend the first one in 2005 but I had something going on the following weekend. I also thought it was funny because the founders of Barcamp weren’t invited to Foocamp).

At these conferences, white boards and wikis and chat clients and all sorts of tools are used, and IRC chat is often used as a “back channel” to communicate in the background. You might have the one conference topic channel say #Barcamp and then tons more based on whatever people want. It’s a good way to communicate and a good way to get introverts to talk too.

Anyway, the rest of the story I don’t really know. I guess Chris asked the Twitter guys (and we’re all in the same area, it’s a small circle) to use # for #barcamp which makes total sense. At this time Barcamp had Matt involved, founder of WordPress around, and so all sorts of communication tools we’re being used and tested out. Note that Twitter was founded by the Blogger guys (which sold to Google and now they’ve founded Medium!, yikes), so like I said, these guys all knew each other.

So that’s pretty much it. Hashtags weren’t meant to be abused #so #that #every #word was hashtagged. It does make sense when you want to follow a topic, but allowing just anyone to create a hashtag (not the person who wants to start the topic), certainly makes it less valuable. But it’s still early, early days (Twitter hasn’t even IPOd yet) so I’m sure the whole hashtag phenomenon/protocols will work itself out.

Hashtags though have filled a void left by AOL Keyword (remember that) since urls are sometimes taken via squatting and it’s just easier #hashtag something especially in a commercial or print ad even.



September 25, 2013

Winter 2014 preview

Tags: Everyday Life — 11:16 am Comments (0)

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Here’s Kirkwood’s Tumblr account.  It’s already snowed and supposed to snow today too. A few good things happened in Kirkwood this Summer:

  • new siding and windows for the Sun Meadows complex,
  • new recreation building for the Kirkwood Community Association getting ready for a January ’14 opening,
  • electrical lines laid down so Kirkwood will finally get it’s electrical on the grid versus burning diesel for its electricity,
  • new ski patrol building at the top of Chair 10, The Wall, to improve grooming
  • picked up some nice, good looking snowshoes for cheap on eBay for us and for guests who don’t ski or snowboard

Should be a good year up there.



September 20, 2013

the theory of conspicuous likes

Tags: Everyday Life — 12:22 pm Comments (2)

(JPEG Image, 323 × 156 pixels)

On the web, the act of liking something serves as currency and is a good enough substitute for actually knowing a person, knowing a subject, purchasing a good or service, or participating in an event, allowing a person to maneuver upwards within his or her social class.

“Like” tools or companies like Facebook, Pinterest, Google, Apple, Pandora encourage their customers to like posts, events, people, products, thoughts, all sorts of different things. The goal for them is to generate money for these “likes” through advertising and also getting the transactions or “conversion” for actual goods. For companies that advertise, the goal isn’t necessarily to get the transaction, it can be more the branding play which may encourage a future transaction. An example is encouraging people to like Aston Martin even though only a small subset of people can actually buy that car. For the person who buys the Aston Martin, it’s made even more valuable because people or even friends that person knows values the brand highly.

What’s not obvious is that the act of liking something is enough. I only need to like the Aston Martin and not purchase it. I only need to like President Obama, I don’t need to have met him or know him. I only need to like marathons, I don’t need to run the actual event. Just liking something gives me similar cachet versus an actual transaction.

The measure of where you sit within a social class can be defined by traditional achievements, level and breadth of knowledge, level of wealth, health, level of influence, amount of friends. The ability to articulate preference and taste via “likes” maybe another measure that trumps some of these traditional achievements.

Do you now then “like” more things? Sure, participate. There will be a point where your level and collection of “likes” is saturated and there’s no additional gain in your social status. To be clear, “liking” something however is not always a flippant or subconscious act by most people. People are aware that “likes” make a statement, they’re conspicuous and they’re attempts at increasing one’s social status. Not only does liking something serve as a cheap substitute for acquiring and owning something, it’s a cheaper way to gain more Facebook likes and status.



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