I have been known to #rant in the past about the abuse #hashTags in the past. But I’m actually a fan of them, I’m a fan of the idea as it ties into the connected web as a concept. A hash tag not nothing more then an anchor to another are on the web that talks about the same subject. Connecting one piece of information to another by a simple ‘#’ symbol in front of the most important words in an article.
But recently has tags have been #abused, battered and misused. I do like how #JustinTimberlake and #JimmyFallon make fun of the abuse and turn it to their own funky tune. A good reason to write a blog about it.
It became popular via social media networks like #Twitter and later adopted by #Facebook but it’s origins lie a lot earlier. #IRC is still the favored method of communication by many hackers, gamers and other internet early adopters and it was where the hash tag was first used. In the IRC client the user can set specific words to trigger sound alerts or visual alerts to notify them of it being mentioned. The ‘#’ was added to make sure that the general word would not trigger a notification unwanted. A simple a subtle method that is still available in the chat client of Skype today.
The response by JT and JF is what we would expect from the way hash tags are used nowadays. The video they made was hilarious and indeed put the finger on the spot perfectly.
Just an example from my cousin’s daughter on #Instagram: “#happy #birthday #daniel #radcliff #i #love #you#harry #james #potter”. Doing this on IRC would sort of get you kicked from a server. Now why? well, any daniel, harry and james would get a message. Birthday might be a valid tag but with 6-7 billion people on the planet there are gonna be some birthday messages out there in total. #DanielRadcliff makes good sense though if you would write them as one word. IRC channels have different rules about how to deal with double words in a tag, but it does not matter too much. The tags ‘I’ and ‘you’ are a bit too generic but the tag #HarryPotter might be relevant here as the last movie was released 2 years ago. But ‘James’ as in ‘Harry James Potter’ might be a bit too specific.
Basically it comes down to the balance. We lost the balance between relevance and irrelevance, generic and specific. Making tags hard to understand and useless when it comes to tagging.
Where did we go wrong?
Nowhere actually… It’s a natural progression of a new phenomenon like this. I can compare it to l33tsp34k (Leetspeak) that also came from the hackers and gaming community into pop culture. Gamers didn’t have time 2 write full sentences so they replaced parts of it with acronyms for common sayings like ‘w8’ (wait), ‘gl hf’ (Good luck and have fun) and ‘rr’ (restart round). Some of these were adopted very fast during the mobile text message phase where users did not have the full keyboard yet. It was harder to type and messages were expensive. So shorten the message and shorten the time it takes to write it.
Although with these things it becomes a fad and you would see this practical way of communication become an annoying and 14m3 (lame) piece of culture. Luckily the all mighty balance is there to save the day. Due to it popularity it became part of ridicule and became less popular again only remaining in the places where it was most effective and best placed. Are hash tags a phase?
I thinks so and just like #planking, #owling and other fads it will fade until normality has been restored. #hitchikersGuideToTheGalaxy #HGTTG #42 #DouglasAdams #hashTag #GoddaHaveMoreHashTags #RantOver
As I know some #americans might be reading this. #rant #joke #noOffenceIntended #imJustRudeSometimes #Dutch.