There’s been a lot of talk in the past about Twitter channels, and now we have them with Twitter Hashtags. Just put a hash (#) before any word in your Tweet and it will appear in a tag stream at Twitter Hashtags.
But first you need to follow Twitter Hashtags, and it will follow you back…this is kind of like a registration/enabler.
I’ve been mostly using it for personal tags, like #Qjt, this is a unique tag I made up with my initials and “Q” represents a question, check out my tweets that are questions.
no RSS feed…this can be generated at Terraminds, pity it doesn’t accept hash (#), I could leave out the hash and search for “Qjt“, but then this defeats the purpose, and there’s noise in the results. The idea is a stream of purposefully indexed tweets, not appearances of keywords.
UPDATE - see comment below, hashtags does have RSS feeds.
You can get delivery in IM and SMS, by using the Twitter tracking feature, just IM - track #Qjt - and you would get only those tweets of mine that I label with this tag.
A similar 3rd party tool is TweetChannel, also see my channel hack. My channel hack tracks a word without it needing a hash, so people don’t even know their tweets are turning up in the stream. My hack is a stream for all the tweets with the word “electronica“, and the stream is in a twitter account itself, so basically you can follow that Twitter User (bot), or it’s feed to keep updated. So this is more about keyword appearances, rather than indexed tweets.
Back to Hashtags…
NOTE: since a tweet only has 140 characters it helps when a word in your tweet is the hashtag, in my case above my hashtag is not a word in my tweet, so I always have to allow for 4 more characters, ie. #Qjt”.
If I tag a lot of my tweets (with the beauty of a tweet having multiple tags) this could generate a tag cloud for my tweets. It would be good if I could get into the sidebar of my Twitter and view a tag cloud, and click to see just tweets with a tag.
Maybe in the future I wouldn’t need to put “jt” in my tag, maybe it could just be “Q”…in Hashtags I could view a stream of tweets with the tag #Q, then limit it to just a user.
Check out a post by Chris Messina, on how useful hashtags are in a time of emergency. The only issue is that at a time of emergency the word must be spread across the twitterverse of what hashtag to use to index tweets about the emergency/disaster. And hopefully that same tag is being used on YouTube and Flickr, so we can get a great insight into what’s going on.
Actually we need some kind of emergency/disaster website that streams Twitter hashtags, Flickr Tags, and YouTube tags…I know there’s lots of photo and video services, but what can you do…perhaps this is something Technorati could specialise in. Why not throw in a wiki and maps as well.
As soon as there is a disaster, we could consult the disaster page tag to see the stream of what’s going on. The homepage could also have an admin blog, with posts like check out the “parkervillefires” tag for the latest, check out the “gisborneearthquake” for the latest, and each tag page could have its own blog for announcements…maybe if this got going we could use shorter tags like “Fparkerville”, “Egisborne”.
This way we have got a tag page for each emergency/disaster…you could make a social network, but I’m thinking of it more as an aggregator with some inhouse features thrown in. Maybe a social network and wiki could help for post-disaster, co-ordinating activities.
For more on emergency 2.0 check out Dennis McDonald’s blog, here are some posts:
Also some posts on the FastForward blog:
[ADDED 6/05/08: Report: In emergencies, people turn to Facebook]
[ADDED 13/05/08: China Quake - Twitter Comes of Age as THE Breaking News Tool]