Tag Archives: hashtags

HashMash: My invention of a new hashtag search tool

Yesterday, while reading through the for last Monday’s superb Twicket event (for background, read the , which I wrote), I started to notice that other hashtags had been used in tweets discussing it. I started to wonder which had been used the most, and what subjects they were about, and this gave me an idea, which I posted to Twitter:

Sadly, my coding days were so long ago that I no longer have the technical skills to make that happen.

Top tag is #digitalbritain, followed by #welovebrenda

Tags tweeted alongside #twicket

Then Rachel Beer () kindly retweeted my comment, and one of her followers, Simon Painter (), immediately responded that it was was something he could do. That evening, he already had a first daft up-and-running, and the tool, which I named “HashMash”, is now available for public use at . He’s done a superb job, it works just how I imagined it would. (Nonetheless, Simon tells me that he plans to make a jquery version and beautify it).

He kindly credited Rachel and me in the footer, so I recoded the footer to include links, and “tag” , and popped my amendments to Simon’s markup onto the very useful PasteBin website, which has syntax highlighting.

Just one minute later, Simon had uploaded my new markup.

Footer includes links to Andy Mabbett's and Rachel Beer's websites and Twitter accounts

The revised HashMash footer

Bearing in mind that Simon and I have never met, had never corresponded, and weren’t even following each other on Twitter until this happened, this has been a first-class example of the power of social media, and the JFDI approach to getting stuff done. In many large organisations, the first meeting about a project initiation document wouldn’t even be scheduled.

Why not ? Let me know what you think.

Simon and Rachel: Thank you. I owe you both a beer!

Footnote: Simon has the best Twitter disclaimer ever.

Update: Simon has written a .

Update 2: Following design changes, my “footer” markup is now at the top of the page!

Proposal: generate KML from postcodes in Twitter messages

Here’s an idea I’ve just had, and mentioned on Twitter:

It would be cool if someone with the necessary skills and bandwidth could provide a service which takes a Twitter search (say, for a hashtag), extracts from it , or postcode districts (the first half of a postcode, such as “B44”), and returns a corresponding KML file, which can then be passed to other services, like Google Maps.

It would enable anybody to create a service like Ben Marsh‘s excellent #UKSnow map, but on the fly, and for any term or hash-tag; and especially for one-off or short term issues. Imagine, for instance, the . I could post on Twitter, say:

I just saw a #ShootingStar in B6!

(I did, too!) and others might reply:

I saw #ShootingStar from Waverley Station, EH1 1BB

Good view of #ShootingStar in S9, too!

and we’d very quickly have a map of places from which it had been seen — in the event, such information was posted to Twitter, but there was no easy way to collate it.

A similar service, returning KML for geo-coded tweets, would also be useful, and internationally too, and something combining both might also work.

A task for an upcoming hackday, perhaps? Or one you might like to tackle…

Triple tags on Twitter

Triple tags (known as Machine Tags on Flickr) are a way of tagging web content with tags having three parts: a namespace, a predicate and a value. This means that we can differentiate between content about a (tagged taxonomy:vernacular=beagle) and (tagged maritime:vessel=beagle). Of course, that relies on everyone using the same tagging schema (my two examples could also be tagged with, say, pet:dog=beagle and history:ship=beagle). Fortunately, communities of web authors are agreeing on such schema.

One schema that is widely used is for geo- (or location-) tagging, where posts such as my picture of a Kingfisher on Flickr are tagged with (in that case):

  • geo:lat=-1.56403
  • geo:lon=53.60913

In other words, the coordinates of the place where I took the picture (pages using that schema are also often tagged with ““).

Kingfisher at Bretton Lakes, South Yorkshire

It is then possible for Flickr to display that picture overlaid on a map of the location.

The Flickr page is also tagged:


which gives the scientific name (binomial or binominal) of the Common Kingfisher, Alcedo atthis, including the Genus, Alcedo.

Another form of tagging, using hash tags, is used by the social media text-messaging service Twitter. Tags in twitter are prefixed with a hash symbol (#), hence the name. A “hash-tagged” message might look like:

I live in #England

Hash tags are parsed by three sites that I know of (there may be others — if so, please let me know): Hashtags (e.g. ), Summize (Summize for “#blog”) and Twemes (Twemes for “#blog”).

All well and good.

It occurred to me recently that it should be possible to use Triple tags in Twitter messages, so I posted these “tweets” as they’re called (I find that rather, er, twee):

#tagged post about #Kingfisher #taxonomy
( #taxonomy:genus=Alcedo,
#taxonomy:binomial=Alcedo_atthis )



Is anyone is parsing #geotagged posts like this: #geo:lat=52.478342 #geo:lon=-1.895389 ( #birminghamuk #rotunda #geo #geotag #tripletag)


(line breaks have been inserted to improve readability)

Disappointingly, none of the three hash tag parsers above managed to understand these. They all see “#geo:lat=52.478342” as just “#geo” and “#taxonomy:binomial=Alcedo_atthis” as just “#taxonomy”.

Worse still, Hashtags wrongly displays my two posts without the second two-thirds of the tag content, as:

#tagged post about #Kingfisher #taxonomy ( #taxonomy #taxonomy )

(see http://hashtags.org/tag/taxonomy/)


Also wonder if anyone is parsing #geotagged posts like this: #geo #geo ( #birminghamuk #rotunda #geo #geotag)

(see http://hashtags.org/tag/taxonomy/).

See also:

Wouldn’t it be great if services which parse hash tags in Twitter messages also recognised “hash-triple-tags”?

[Update: Summize was bought by Twitter and is now absorbed by them as Twitter’s own search.]

[Update: Hashtags.org now parses the triple tags as, for example, just “#taxonomy”]

[Update: David Carrington of Dabr tells me that some of these triple tags are too long for Twitter’s search API. I’ll try to find out what the limit is, and raise the matter with Twitter’s support people]

[Update: There is now a tool to automatically generate tags for Flickr images of living things; iNaturalist tagger.]

Suggested method of publishing microformats in Twitter posts

Twitter posts like this one:

We’re still deep in the Sundarbans, near Tambulbunia, meeting experts on dolphins and tigers. l:Tambulbunia, Bangladesh=22.27722,89.71905

have a place- name and corresponding coordinates (indicated by the prefix “l:”). This has allowed them to be plotted on a map.

It should be possible for the poster to send, say:

We’re still deep in the Sundarbans, near Tambulbunia, meeting experts on dolphins and tigers. #hcard: fn+locality:Tambulbunia: country-name:Bangladesh: geo:22.27722,89.71905

using colons as delimiters and have Twitter render that comment marked up as an hCard.

In the short term, this could be achieved by a third-party site, like #hashtags .

UPDATE:  being more mindful of the 140 character limit than I have in the above example, perhaps class names might be abbreviated (“loc” for “locality”, “ctry” for “country-name”, and so on).