Influential Lib Dems – and, yes, hashtag taxonomy

I had to wait until today, with the final announcement of the top ten Lib Dems, when it was finally clear I had fallen short of Iain Dale’s top-50 influential Lib Dems – despite having variously worked with or for several of those who are in the list.

And yet my reach and my influence is significant. Last Friday, I coined a phrase “hashtag taxonomy” that was resoundly mocked in all sorts of places throughout conference until finally culminating in a name check on Radio 5Live when my new friend and celebrity talking head Helen Duffett managed to crowbar it into a interview on the leader’s speech. And not only did Helen say it, someone actually heard it and twittered about it.

And now I hear the concept will be written up into a paper for an American political science journal by my colleague Dr Mark Pack, so I set to work to think of further poncey phrases that might work in an academic concept, finally coming up with the phrase “cross-media, cross-platform hegemony.” I have thought a little further on that and think now I may have confused my hegemonies with my synergies, so what we really need is cross-media, cross-platform synergy. I have been clear throughout, however, that it is most useful to refer to taxonomy in the singular. Taxonomies threatens getting singularly postmodern.

But I fear all our hashtags and taxonomies and synergies are obscuring how useful this thing that Dr Pack stumbled on last week could actually be. Basically, @partyConference (and I don’t know who they are) suggested a standard style of tag, starting with the # character, for all the party conferences. If you tag a text message with the hashtag, or tweme, ‘#libdem08’ it will automatically appear this page on the website twemes.com

To the best of my knowledge, no-one did anything to create that page – unless it was put there by @partyconference themselves. Or did the website just notice that lots of people were suddenly saying #libdem08 and bring a lot of them together in one place? (Interestingly, at the moment, there doesn’t appear to be a #lab08 page – if you try twemes.com/lab08 all you see is a message tagged #boring…)

But hold on a second minute. It’s not just the twitter messages that can be made to appear on that wee page. Items posted to del.icio.us do as well, as do photos on flickr. This is when we get to the cross-media, cross-platform excitement. Suddenly it’s all very interesting indeed.

You can really see the application of this when a large volume of tech savvy people all go to the same place at the same time. And Lib Dem conference was that place. All I need to do now is convince a few more people apart from me and Will Howells to upload photos, and we will be literally unstoppable.

I can’t wait to see whether the Tories or Labour make owt out of hashtags at their own efforts.

12 comments on “Influential Lib Dems – and, yes, hashtag taxonomy

  1. Mark Pack says:

    What have we started? I fear it may sweep the world. Or at least Crouch End.

  2. Will Howells is right –

    Liberal Democrats: Making I.T. happen

  3. Next stop the OED then?

  4. Although I used to be an economics and small business development academic and utilised appropriate jargon, I found that I lost the will to live half way through that blogpost.

    I wonder if an appearance in a certain section of Private Eye might occur shortly……

  5. niles says:

    Toby, I’d hope it’s too self-aware to be Pseud – and if you stopped halfway through, you’d have missed the bit when I said it was important not to obscure the meaning with long words…

  6. Rob Knight says:

    Not to rain on anyone’s parade here, but haven’t people been doing this kind of thing for ages? (i.e. at least a few months). The use of the hashtag in Twitter messages has been quite common at IT conferences and other events and it’s really just a Twitter variation on the idea of tags which have been around in blog posts since the dawn of time. I’m not entirely sure what Twemes does for Twitter that Technorati wasn’t doing for blogs a few years ago.

    I realise that this probably makes me something of a cynic for pointing it out though 😦

  7. niles says:

    Cynic, Rob? Not at all! It’s like buying a second-hand car. It may not be new, but it’s still exciting.

  8. Mark says:

    Rob: you’re right that tags have been used for a little while, but this is the first time they’ve spread to UK politics (and they’re still pretty novel even in other areas), so it’s worth celebrating our innovation and thinking about how we can develop things further. Oh, and coming up with lots of long words too 🙂

  9. So novel that we get to decide on the naming convention…

  10. […] Alex Foster would say, we achieved “cross-media, cross-platform […]

  11. […] Foster reported here on LDV the success of Twitter and the usefulness of hashtags, as well as on his own blog. He’s rightly proud because it was he who brought this new term to our […]

  12. […] Alex Foster has highlighted there is more to hash tagging than simply Twitter. By using a common tag across other tools such as […]

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