A couple of weeks ago, Scoble had a epiphany that ‘hashtags are dead…’. That epiphany was really more about realtime search than the future of hashtags. If anything, inline tags (hashtags) are going to be an increasingly important aspect of the realtime web.
Inline tags are simply the combination of a unique character and a keyword (e.g. #tag). Introduced to Twitter by Chris Messina back in 2007, hashtags have seen increasing usage around current events, conversation and collaboration. Here’s what makes them uniquely valuable, particularly in the public micro-message:
- Natural, fast, easy
Requiring only an additional keystroke they become part of natural practice, do not require additional action after typing and are not dependent on the medium.
Effectively reorients the rest of the message as context around that keyword, and enables explicit, permission-less participation in a public thread.
Tags link messages together in topical threads which allow for asynchronous public conversation. These threads are automatically related to contributors, other threads, and links with the message text forming a tight contextual wrapper around the thread itself.
Being text based, they can be used anywhere you type
Hashtags are just the beginning of in-line tagging in public micro-messages. They will enable explicit threading and permissionless participation in the realtime web in a natural and extensible way. Chris Messina’s original post had some great details, some of which which I believe will be part of the core infrastructure of the realtime web. And as public micro-messaging services proliferate, inline tags will help enable cross-platform threading with the potential to weave the web and even our offline data.