February 17th, 2009
Tagalus: Hashing through Twitter hashtags… and testing OAuth too
It’s no secret that Portland is into Twitter in a big way.
For many of the folks in the Web and mobile tech scene, it’s the way we stay in contact, spread news, and organize events. As such, we’re always trying to convince new folks to try it.
“I realize it looks stupid, but just try it,” we say. “Trust me.”
And once we get folks to try it, one of the first questions that always comes up is “What’s with all the #whatever stuff?”
This question used to be immediately followed by a deep sigh as we gathered our strength to explain the peculiar method and science surrounding the selection of #hashtags. How those pound-sign assisted acronyms and compounds provide a semblance of a taxonomy for a largely unclassifiable stream of blob files. How arduous the careful selection of canonical tags that reduce typing complexity while enforcing a unique and traceable presence can be.
Yes, it really was that difficult.
That was then. Now, thanks to Portland-based tagalus, we have a simple answer: “Go to tagal.us and look it up.”
How? Let’s take an example, shall we? Yes, we shall.
You see the following tweet come across your tweet stream: “When I was a kid, we had to guess as to what those cryptic hashtags meant. And we liked it. #getoffmylawn”
“#getoffmylawn?” you say. “I wonder what that means.”
So you head over to tagal.us and search for #getoffmylawn. Where you’ll see my definition.
Maybe it helps you. Maybe you disagree. Or maybe you want to clarify. Have at it. Tagalus was made to share those opinions and clarifications.
Or maybe you have a hashtag you’d like to define for someone else? No problem. Head over to tagal.us and submit it—or send @tagalus a tweet from Twitter to define a hashtag without leaving the comfort of your tweet stream. For example, “@tagalus define ip4 as Ignite Portland 4 – a hipster event according to KGW.” (You also have the option of using “def” instead of “define,” since I know you’re always worried about your character count.)
Long story short, it’s like a little publicly edited dictionary for Twitter hashtags that you help curate. How cool is that? It’s very cool, my friend.
But why stop there?
Tagalus is still in beta—so why not add more features? How about OAuth? Okay!
What’s OAuth you say? It’s a cousin to one of our favorite login methods, OpenID.
This is what OAuth does, it allows the you the User to grant access to your private resources on one site (which is called the Service Provider), to another site (called Consumer, not to be confused with you, the User). While OpenID is all about using a single identity to sign into many sites, OAuth is about giving access to your stuff without sharing your identity at all (or its secret parts).
In other words, it makes sure that you don’t have to share your Twitter password with the applications that you want to use in combination with Twitter. Instead, Twitter brokers the deal for you—confirming you are who you say you are.
Get to defining those hashtags
So now you’re ready to join in the fun. Create a new hashtag and define it, clarify the definition of an existing hashtag, or be the first to define an “oldie but a goodie” hashtag. (I was surprised to be the first to define #getoffmylawn.) I can’t wait to have a better understanding about all those cryptic tweets you’re sending.
For more information or to define your favorite hashtags, visit tagalus.