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Taxonomic Twitter

In another post about Twitter I wrote extensively about the implications of this service from a behavioral perspective. It seems that I’m quite in a “twitter mood” lately since I’m writing another post so close to the first one and I’m planning another one for the upcoming days. Right now I would like to share something more technical about this.

It’s about an attempt to make Twitter even sharper and thinner, by using some sort of taxonomy, or in plain english, a method of grouping together posts by putting “labels” on them. Twitter already has a max limit of 140 characters for each post, and chances for this to grow up are likely to be zero. At least for now. So, in order to increase the readability of the tweets, all work must be done “inside” this 140 characters limit. And the way they’re trying to this is by using some extremely scaled down mark-up language.

They’re called hashtags and they are a way of identifying zones of related content. For instance, if you’re going to tweet a lot about raw food, you can insert somewhere into the tweet something like this “#rawfood”. The “#” sign will have the role to identify the string after it as a marker. Everything with a “#” in front will actually become a label. So every time you will be tweeting about raw food, you will group your tweets into a larger category of possibly related tweets. If somebody else will tweet about the same things and they’ll use the same marker, your tweets will be grouped together.

Using Hashtags Implications

First of all, there will be less room for the actual information. Every hashtag will eat some space out of the 140 characters, leaving less space for the original content. Chances are that your content could be grouped in more than one category, or marker and you’ll be inclined to use more than one hashtag in your tweet. If a consistent API would be provided for working with those hashtags – and chances are that there will be some hooks sooner than we think – then a lot of applications would be using that. Turning Twitter into a searchable catalog is just around the corner. There is a great potential for advertisers and even for people who are trying to promote their blogs or products. It would be the easiest way to direct your tweet to the intended category of readers.

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