News hash..

January 13, 2009

As Twitter moves inexorably along the Hype Cycle there are calls to impose order, or at least hierarchies, and then there are examples of emergent order. Twitter hash tags are an example of the latter, a homebrewed method of coalescing discussion around a particular topic, and making that discussion easily discoverable. Already hashtags have seeded conversations around the topics as controversial as the conflict in gaza; the Israeli embassy recently used hashtags to run a Q&A.

Ignoring the late Sir James Goldsmith’s advice that “if you see a bandwagon it’s too late”, on iPM we’ve been playing around with using hashtags, and with grouping tweets by search term. Hashtag conversation is unmoderated, uncurated, open-access and not time limited, a very different tool from a traditional forum that might be employed by news orgs. We’re still finding our feet with this aspect of twitter, it will be interesting to see what further innovation emerges as twitterers adapt to becoming participants in a mass medium.