Tribal Markings: hashtags

I found myself explaining the purpose of hashtags this morning on my Facebook page.  I’d posted to my news feed about a livestreaming event happening later in the day, with a reminder that hashtagging it would enable the conversation to be tracked.  Someone asked what a hashtag was.  Oh, how easily we forget that not everyone tosses around this jargon the way early adaptors (sometimes referred to as ‘geeks’) tend to do!  Here’s one definition

… a hashtag is a word preceded by a hash sign (#) that is collectively used by a group in their tweets, blog titles, videos, and pics to track discussions, events, conferences etc. It’s a good idea to keep them as specific, and short as possible e.g., a search in Twitter for #qldtheatre (a hashtag unique… to materials relating to theatre in Qld) will bring up any item tagged that way.

Another group had noted a definition of their own hashtag as a way for members of their ‘tribe’ to stay connected in discussions, events of various kinds, and to tag their posts, images etc.

In my wild, erratic fancy I imagined the humble hash mark # as a new kind of tribal marker. If you want to know more about this tribes conceit for groups connected in some way, see Seth Godin‘s terrific e-book Tribes.  It’s free to download along with other materials on tribal stuff at his site and to pass on – and don’t forget to hashtag it when you do #tribes.

Bye the bye, earlier in the week I watched a video shot by some Google folk.  It was a vox-pop kind of thing; interviewer approaches people in a crowded street – it looked like NYC – and asked them ‘Do you know what a web browser is?’  Like most of the general population they had a pretty fair idea; at least they knew it was a way to access the internet, even if they got it mixed up a bit at times.  The commentary on the blog post which referenced this video was shocked!  Well, maybe some members of various geek tribes were, but I’m not shocked by this response one-little-bit.  The good people who’d had a microphone and a camera shoved in their faces did pretty well – in fact I’d grade them a decent B to B+.  They knew how to use the web after all.  Baby steps, folks …

Anyhow, this post is about nothing so much as a random observation about how we’re constantly foxed by assumptions – that others know things that we, or someone else think they should know.  Well, how else will they learn if we don’t tell ’em.  I’m reminded of the first axiom of teaching: Assume nothing.