What is a hashtag?

“Child, what is a hashtag? We were thinking with grandpa it originates from German… sounds like Guten Tag or something…”

“Hi Granny! You know hashtag, it is this sign #.”

“Oh, yes! It is on the switchboard, right under 9. I have also seen it as a substitute for “number”: #3, #4… Grandpa is also saying its name is ‘sharp’ or ‘dièse’ in music.”

“Granny, Grandpa plays the violin, hence the association. Hashtag is only seemingly like a sharp/dièse. The latter is higher in pitch by a semitone. The hashtag is quite practical: it filters information by topics. When you put the hashtag before your keyword of interest (e.g. #elections2017), all the publications relevant to this subject topic appear. Thus given the enormous information on the Internet, one can search easily with the hashtag. Imagine Internet is like a gigantic encyclopedia that one cannot read in a lifetime without ‘contents’ or labels. The hashtag performs exactly this function: to provide us only with the topics we wish to read about. Simply put, hashtag has now become a part of the modern alphabet.”

“This sounds useful, Child. I am happy you like it.”

“It does not only sound useful, Granny. It IS useful. Can you imagine your phone directory being chaotic – first names here, surnames there, no alphabet order, whatsoever! How much would that have slowed down your search? Hashtags help order and save time. It is cool not to be looking for a needle in a haystack, no?”

“I got it, Child! What I still don’t get is that … on the news they say that the president wrote hashtag-something and then a blue bird appears on the screen. What is this blue bird about? Looks a bit ill to me!

“This is Twitter, Granny!”

“No, Child! This used to be a normal, yellow bird… They used to chase each other with that weird Sylvester cat…”

Not Tweety, Granny but Twitter! It is a part of the Internet, where messages up to 140 symbols can be exchanged. It is free and you can address your message to the whole world. It is like a telegram but free and online.

“Like a telegram you say… But you cannot touch it, and you do not wait on the queue for hours! Back in the days in the post office I used to…”

“Granny, what is this nostalgia for queueing in the post office? We are talking about instant communication here, no money and no inconvenience. These symbols are enough to pass a meaningful message out there! So these hashtags are used to filter millions of messages each day. They are called Tweets. Hashtags are like labels that can help you find politicians’ and other rock stars’ opinions. It is the SMS of the Internet, but more social: one could include a video, an image… Hashtags are the big thing nowadays!”

“I hope you are healthy, safe and sound! We used to live without hashtags! And by the way, I do not think it works! I am writing #mygranddaughter and the results show everything else, but you!

“But Granny! The hashtag is not a fortuneteller! How can Internet know who your granddaughter is!”

“How very useless!”    :-)…

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What is a blog, Child?

”What is this block, child? Which number?”

It’s a blog, Granny. Blog stands for a letter addressed to many people around the world. Is it not way too extrovert? Perhaps even a little exhibitionist-like? Yep! But who cares? We love to be liked. We are crazy about it! With time less and less people physically come to say “I like this!” But they all give an unambiguous sign. You used to clap to say “well done”. We are much more sophisticated and minimalistic. We just put a big thumb up. Through the computer, yes! Cool, right? So we do not need to put extra time into wording and unnecessary communication! This thumb up is the haiku of all gestures! It just says so much! 

And so this is why I am writing a blog. To let everyone to whoop it up.

I hope this blog will get to where you ARE, as I’d love to carry on chatting to you (or have a tête-à-tête, as you used to say).

Since you went away, many things have changed. You have no idea! So I am going to throw some light. I will be writing to you about all these fancy new terms with which you could not quite happen to meet. This will be the lingo of your grandchildren. In my opinion, the gap, no the void, between the generations has never been larger. History repeats itself, but in a bit more cruel way. One generation takes care of another, so that the new generation learns more and becomes “better”. Interestingly, when it gets “better”, it opposes all the well-known questions (“Have you eaten?”, “When will you come back home?” etc.) with rage. The “better” generation shouts down the care shown from the “not-that-good-generation” by saying: “You understand nothing! I will check when I get there and will Instagram it later.”(Instagram is nothing related to food, Granny. Besides you seeing “gram” in it. I will explain it soon.)

At times I think you did well you went away. I am not sure you would have liked or understood this new world. We are exchanging photos with Mum and Dad via the phone. If you were alive, I would have probably printed them for you. Or would have said: “Oh, leave it, it doesn’t matter, that’s just a groupie we did with some fr on FB.”

I would have probably mocked you from time to time that you know little of the modern jargon. If you knew how to use the Internet, you’d probably send me this:

“To my children:

Never make fun of having to help me with computer stuff. I taught you how to use a spoon.”

#youareverycoolGranny #spoton #lol

If you feel a bit perplexed and you think most of my sentences are spelling mistakes, worry not! This is just a tiny portion of the things that have changed since you are gone. And because of our love, I will help all elderly people who are willing to learn and thus be closer to their children and grandchildren. Technology should not be demonised. It empowers us a lot, if used with the right intentions…and moderately.

I will tell you about the new ways in communication, the attitudes and the relations. When you feel out of place, just ask me here. If you need anything explained, please ask.

I am your digital granddaughter, in good and bad times. In new and old times.

I love you, Granny! Only this hasn’t changed since you went away…