Hashtaging - use of the # sign connected to words and phrases on Twitter to create a common search link - is a great way to build community around events and ideas. (Alternately, you can generally click on a trending topic - usually tagged - to experience the tragedy of the commons).
But using tags to effectively build constructive community is not easy. I've tried. (See #arounddublin and #pilife.)
More than dedicated individuals, it takes a critical mass and perhaps a spark of divine energy. So what's in the water up in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada (besides ice, that is)?
As I've expanded my Twitter contacts in Canada in recent weeks, mostly through fellow public servant and Gov 2.0 advocate Nick Charney, one thing is clear.
Peeps love #yeg.
A quick Google reveals that YEG is the airport code for Edmonton, and that it's become the buzzcronym linking a significant community of Edmonton residents. A quick tweet gets you plenty of community feedback:
great people, too cold to do much but stay inside and tweet (though they also supplement the Twitter community with regular in-person meetups);
airport codes rock the Twitter form because they're short - and wordly;
in the middle of nowhere, airport codes have more significance;
yeg is good for self-referential fun, words like " yeggers," "yegsters," "yegalicious," "yeg cetera";
Edmonton is one of the coldest places in the world, but Yegsters are a friendly bunch who want to stay connected; and,
tweeps in Victoria, BC using the #yyj airport code have just a bit of Yeg envy.
If you pay attention to #yeg for a bit, you'll soon see that its use is as diverse as any big city (pop. 730,000). And above and beyond the tag, Edmonton officialdom has a kick-ass Gov 2.0 feel. Local civil servant Jas Darrah calls Edmonton's success in Twitter community building a " case study in key influencers actively convincing others (institutions a key) about medium + utility" of the #yeg meme."
I'm hoping some of those influencers, as well as newcomers to the tag and Twitter, will drop in and comment here.
Let's write a case study, shall we?
~ Adriel Hampton is a San Francisco public servant and host of the Gov 2.0 Radio podcast.
photos by Jerry Aulenbach