Digging further into the #snOMG hashtag: Cincinnati wins (for now?)

#snomg tag from trendsmap.com, 1 p.m. on 12/19

#snomg tag usage as shown by trendsmap.com at 1 p.m. Dec. 19

Well, shoot.
Charlotte didn’t invent the hash tag #snOMG.

The city’s forensic Twitter archivist, Blair Trosper, sends evidence that Charlotte’s hive mind borrowed the word from Tom Callinan, a Cincinnati editor. Still, it’s intriguing that the hashtag’s use exploded in Charlotte after only a few mentions, and then lay dormant until the next winter season. When #snowmageddon of December 2009 hit the East Coast, #snOMG spread, along with many other highly amusing tags.

Christmas Eve, Tom Callinan shared word that he thought copy editor Kelly Hudson first used the tag, and that started Kelly on her own investigation of her sources, @wltw and @cra1g.

Then @cra1g dug up a cute Twitpic from January 2009.
Still, that’s not definitive proof of the first use of the tag. Perhaps we’ll never have a clear answer, but for the moment, @cra1g wins. Sorry, @flc.

Anyone who has been on Twitter for a while likely has noticed a tendency for unconscious or subconscious borrowing of words and concepts from people in their Twitter stream. The speed and ephemeral nature of Twitter, though, make it difficult to pin down where exactly concepts start. But hey, this is the Internet, and computers are helping us remember things these days, thank goodness. Somewhere, buried in a server, is the first tweet to use the #snOMG hashtag. Can it be proven to be the first?

Of course, the tag is just one of many useful and sometimes merely amusing tags. WLTW even used a survey of what tag to use for Cincinnati’s January 2009 storm, and #snOMG was only one of several highly amusing hashtag nominees. I’m surprised “Bob” didn’t win.

But #snOMG’s spread can provide a snapshot of the how valuable hashtags are on Twitter and thus how semantic tagging of other snippets of information can be useful in our machine-assisted world. So many sociological implications abound too: how humor fuels the use of tagging, how the hive mind absorbs and spreads information, how the spread of a tag gives feelings of validation among users, and on and on.

And then the business applications exist as well. How valuable are the roots of a tag? Will Twitter find a way to monetize the archiving of this kind of information? Will others?

So perhaps some day a linguistic or library science student will explore the phenomenon further. In the mean time, Charlotte and the East Coast need to credit @cra1g.

And stay safe and warm as a new storm aims at the East Coast. Happy holidays.

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2 responses to “Digging further into the #snOMG hashtag: Cincinnati wins (for now?)

  1. I love the way you think, Andria. 🙂

  2. Pingback: The December 2009 snowstorm and #snOMG, a little hashtag that began in Charlotte « Global Vue

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