2. September 2009

Twitter Microtagging = Personal Tags

It is time for structure in Twitter. I will now start microtagging my tweets so that followers can filter and read only what they are interested in.

Hashtags are currently used for several purposes:

  1. Global tagging: is done in the spirit of tag-clouds to support global search for topics. example: "Official hashtag for Barcamp Bangkok 3 is #barcampbkk3".
  2. Comment tagging: is a very recent development. People started to add single word comments which support or augment the original tweet in form of hashtags. Example: "Got my iPhone today #happy". Nobody would search for #happy. Its just a funny (and completely valid) mis-use of tagging.
  3. Data tagging: to use Twitter as a data channel for later evaluation. Example: "My current #weight 72.2 kg" with the convention that after #weight follow a number and a unit. Example: "I am now at Los Angeles Airport #geoloc 33.94 -118.40" with the convention that after #geoloc follow longitude and latitude. Rarely used though and probably yet underrated.
  4. Follower phishing: is done by adding as many hashtags as possible to the tweet in the hope to attract attention of followers, specifically auto-followers which are triggered by certain keywords. Example: I once was followed within seconds by @timmendorf when I twittered #helgoland (both are beach holiday resorts).
Hashtags are the community driven Twitter way to give a litte bit of structure. But this is not enough. What we need is a way to filter relevant information from streams. I am tweeting different parts of my life. I tweet about my work, about various projects, about my lunch, about the kids, about fun stuff I find. But, there are followers who are not interested in my kids. My familiy is not interested in technical tweets. Parts of it is always spam for some of my followers. They have no way to filter only the interesting tweets. There should be a way for me to tag my tweets with my own personal tags, so that followers or their client software can select what they read. This is Microtagging: short personal tags.

I will now start to add short tags to my tweets which indicate a kind of "sub-channel" inside my tweet stream. You (or your software) will be able to ignore #dev tweets if you are not interested in my development work. You may ignore #kids tweets if you do not want to know when we are having ice cream in the local zoo. Microtags are personal tags. Everyone can define her own. They are not globally defined. Microtags have only meaning inside a single Twitter account. There might be standards later. Until then read my microtags at microtags.org to learn what they mean.

I will start with:
#life What I do, eat, where I walk and other spam
#me About me, but not the trivial #life stuff
#chat Chats via twitter, which you'd probably ignore if your r not @'d
#fun Fun stuff I find and want to share
#pol Politics (I am trying to avoid this)
#fam Family matters and events
#me About me, but not the mundane #life stuff
#blog New blog posts announced on twitter
#web The Web, Internet including social media, social networks and Twitter
#vw About virtual worlds
#soc Society, including rants about how bad/good the world is
#sci Science, if any
#kids Not yet
#dev Software development and tools
#tec Technical stuff except software development
#ovw That's the project I am currently working on most of the time
#vg My series of Virtual Goods Articles (see http://blog.wolfspelz.de/2009/10/virtual-goods-ticker.html)

A twitter client could have multiple input fields, so that I do not have to choose the microtag for each tweet. A twitter client could automatically fetch the microtags of a new follower from microtags.org and show you a list to select from. My list is at http://microtags.org/tags/?http://twitter.com/wolfspelz. Your twitter client could also fetch my microtags from time to time and offer new choices if they change.

I'd rather make these tags metadata for the tweet and not as part of the text. But since there is not metadata in microblogging, there will now be microtags in the text. Clients can strip them anyway.

_happy_microtagging()

See also: http://www.microsyntax.org but I can't wait anymore.

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