Does the collective stream of news, trivia, photos, opinions, rants and links that is the #hamont hashtag have a personality? A character? A voice? If it were a citizen, what kind of citizen would it be? Would you want to be friends?
Perhaps as importantly, when it speaks, where does #hamont think it is? In the company of strangers? Among best friends? In a town hall?
Who, if anyone, does it represent? The early-adopting usual suspects? The new face of a cybersocial, hyperlocal citizenry? A crank on a soapbox. Or, no one at all?
And, finally, what are the rules of engagement in the diffuse, virtual hamlet of #hamont? What are its community standards?
Certainly its nature has changed in the past month, as more newcomers - restauranteurs, real estate agents, journalists, politicians and others test their voices and suss out the etiquette of a foreign space.
Many arrive with no real idea of what they should do: Hustle? Listen? Rant? Share? Tell jokes? Repeat what others say? Or just stay silent and listen well.
#hamont began as a bit of a smartass and it retains that "shoot from the hip" style of give and take. The anonymity and brevity of the medium favours the quick, snarky verbal jab over sober second thought at times. Well, a lot of times. And, like a Noel Coward cocktail party, it revels in dishing about people not in the room.
It can be both mean- and civic-spirited at the same time. It savaged Dialogue Partners but can't get enough of Joey Coleman's livestreams from City Hall.
It is brash and opinionated, whether the topic is casinos, fluoridation or the best wings in town. It is a hubbub of voices that sometimes shout to be heard. It's sometimes cerebral and sometimes limbic, and it loves talking about the weather.
It is a noisy gong and clanging cymbal, but it is not without love and empathy. Its affection for Hamilton is palpable, and its defense of same is like a tiger for her litter. It is an acquired taste, more Marmite than marmalade.
It is a call in search of a response and a stage set for community theatre. It is demanding. It wants answers, participation, truth and action.
#hamont is curious - it probes, digs up bits and facts diffusely then brings them home and drops them on the City's doorstep the way a cat shows off a dead rodent.
And, it has its own rules.
And, it's a friend I'm glad to know.
First published on Wayne MacPhail's tumblr
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