A Hashtag Chat about Hashtags: a #digped Discussion

On Friday, August 2 from 1:00 – 2:00pm Eastern (10:00 – 11:00am Pacific), Hybrid Pedagogy will host a Twitter discussion under the hashtag #digped to discuss the use of Twitter hashtags in forming learning communities, doing scholarly work, and research. The often ironic, sometimes humorous hashtag can actually be used to create lasting communities of discourse among educators and students across a network.

The conversation curated and archived via Storify.

In her recent Hybrid Pedagogy article, “Hashtag Classroom,” Charlotte Frost writes, “Hashtags are taxonomic and pedagogical … Hashtags are ways we can classify information but, when used by communities of invested participants, they are also a valuable way of coordinating learning.” Charlotte describes a project in which she enabled the manufacture of 3-dimensional “#arthistory” hashtags with a 3D printer in order to allow anyone to tag objects and scenes in the physical world. Her project calls attention to the ways that we tag ideas in a discourse and also the ways that we use language to break up the din of data in our material world.

Part (potential) academic tool, part play-thing, the hashtag is a complex entity. There can be a deep sense of irony or critique in using a hashtag. For example making up a word or combining a set of words into a tag that nobody in their right mind would actually search for, proposing — tongue-in-cheek — the reification of something highly specific or incredibly banal is very popular. ~ Charlotte Frost

Charlotte recounts the origination of the hashtag, which has become an inventive and also descriptive tool for critical inquiry. The use of a hashtag on Twitter is not commonly haphazard, neither random nor accidental. Most denizens of the Twitter-verse use the hashtag in deliberate and careful ways. It is, in fact, one of the first puzzles that the novice Twitter-user must unravel. Why, what, and how shall I tag?

Given the robust search functionality of Twitter, all of the words in a given tweet are searchable. The hashtag, though, adds another dimension. When we deliberately tag specific words or ideas within a tweet, we are asking for those ideas to be archived within a particular conversation or “thread.” The hashtag puts one tweet alongside other tweets, drawing very intentional lines between one idea and another — and allowing those ideas to be curated together with a single left-click of a mouse or trackpad.

We are specifically asking that both those familiar and unfamiliar with hashtag chats join us for this discussion. In usual Hybrid Pedagogy fashion, we hope to go meta on the hashtag, thinking about the various ways it can function as a pedagogical, academic, and community-building tool. We’ll be exploring the hashtag by using the hashtag. Novices should bring their best “I’ll-try-anything” spirit and experienced users should be prepared to lay their methods bare.

Some questions to consider in advance of Friday’s discussion:

  • What is a hashtag chat and what literacies or access does the medium of the hashtag chat presume?
  • What is the rhetorical effect of a hashtag? What meaning does this single character, “#”, convey?
  • How do conversations arise unexpectedly or deliberately around a given hashtag? How can the hashtag be used pedagogically? What strategies could you use to leverage hashtags for your own classes?
  • How can we use Twitter to advance academic and pedagogical discourse?

Add thoughts and questions below in advance of the conversation and join us on August 2 at 1:00pm ET. Check out worldtimebuddy.com to see when to join us in your own time zone. For those unable to attend this week, Hybrid Pedagogy’s #digped occurs on the first Friday of every month. Our next #digped conversation will occur on Friday, September 6, 2013, same time, same place. If you have suggestions for future topics, feel free to tweet them to @slamteacher or @hybridped.

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