Not the #somethinghasjusthappenedandIamtweetingit hashtag or the #iamaddingahashtaginanironicwayhere or even #myfootballteamisplayingandIwanttofeelpartofthetribe - it’s the interesting hashtags that are being shouted into a void that perplex me.
Curation is an important word for journalism at the moment; we’re all about the curating of content and adding context around it.
But hashtags often do little add context, although they do add volume. I can get a sense of amplification – of importance – from how many (and who) is tweeting a hashtag but finding out what they are doing, where and why can be tricky.
I follow a lot of people on Twitter, and they go to a lot of events or follow a lot of sport, and they tweet about it with hashtags.
Sometimes I’m not interested (#F1 I’m looking at you) in which case the Tweetdeck filter or Proxlet extension on my Chrome browser is a godsend.
But sometimes I am interested and would like to know more; that’s when it can get frustrating, because finding out what a hashtag is can be a nightmare.
Occasionally this sort of thing pops up in a stream…
But often I just see interesting looking conversations happening around an unknown event with a #hashtag that doesn’t link to anything other than a stream of other people using the same hashtag.
If I know the people I can try to backpedal down their tweet stream far enough to see what they’re up to but it’s a hit-and-miss approach with no guarantee of success.
Brizzly has a ‘why?’ hyperlink next to the trending topics that explain why each is being talked about and it can be very useful; it adds a layer of knowledge that takes a hashtag beyond curation into explanation. Trends Map is also great for spotting local trends, but there’s nothing around hashtags themselves that allows the creator to explain what they are.
There is a site called Twubs which allows you to register a hashtag but it doesn’t really do what I need it to; ie. tell me what that hashtag is about. It does aid discovery by others in that it’s added to the Twubs directory, but mainly it’s to stop Corporates stealing hashtags off each other.
So, dear Twitter app developers (or just Twitter, God knows it would be nice if you actually did something for your own site rather) please could you build something that brings the endless game of What Is This Person Talking About to an end?