What is #hamont?

By Wayne MacPhail
Published February 01, 2013

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

Wayne MacPhail has been involved in creating online community, collaboration, conversation since the early 1980s when he created the first hypermedia journalism in Canada. He is a former photographer and managing editor for Hamilton Magazine and a reporter and editor with the Hamilton Spectator. He went on to lead Southam Inc’s exploration of future information products at Southam InfoLab, and helped to design the first polypublishing toolset for newspapers in Canada. He then co-created a comedy site for AOL Canada that had a robust international community and fanbase.

Since then he has created online content for major online network players in Canada (including AOL, CANOE, MSN and Bell-Emergis). As Director of Content for Sympatico-Lycos he introduced rich content and powerful discussion forums for the cross-Canada site. Wayne has also launched discussion forums internal and externally for York University, Centennial College and the Alzheimer’s Society of Ontario (ASO). He teaches online journalism at the University of Western Ontario and Ryerson University and is a published playwright and book author.

Wayne is also an avid runner, cyclist, photographer, videographer and gardener and lives with his wife, Barb, on Ray Street North in Hamilton. He has his own emerging media consultancy, w8nc inc., whose clients include University of Toronto, McMaster University, Random House, The Association of Science and Technology Centres and the Association of Ontario Health Centres.


View Comments: Nested | Flat

Read Comments

[ - ]

By vrancor (anonymous) | Posted February 01, 2013 at 13:57:48

Comments with a score below -5 are hidden by default.

You can change or disable this comment score threshold by registering an RTH user account.

Permalink | Context

By AnjoMan (registered) | Posted February 01, 2013 at 14:43:17 in reply to Comment 85736

Its a hashtag, not a group of people. You could use it to -- however, in my opinion using it to insult your fellow citizens is taking it out of context.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By HamCat13 (anonymous) | Posted February 01, 2013 at 14:47:01

"#hamont began as a bit of a smartass and it retains that "shoot from the hip" style of give and take." No it didn't.

Anonymity? You know 99% using the hashtag because they use their real name either as an account or in the profile.

You can't define a hashtag, you shouldn't define a conversation, and to give it a list of rules is arrogant. A crank on a soapbox sounds about right.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By LOL all over again (anonymous) | Posted February 02, 2013 at 09:01:58

And I thought spending other peoples money was a little over the top.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Rimshot (anonymous) | Posted February 02, 2013 at 09:22:12

I find it to be a bit of a circle jerk in a clown car, but maybe I'm expecting too much.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Sigma Cub (anonymous) | Posted February 03, 2013 at 18:35:53

Q: What is the Hamilton equivalent of #topoli?

Permalink | Context

By highwater (registered) | Posted February 03, 2013 at 18:58:25 in reply to Comment 85789


Permalink | Context

By Sigma Cub (anonymous) | Posted February 03, 2013 at 19:08:28 in reply to Comment 85790

That's what I thought. Here's why I asked.

Permalink | Context

By Sigma Cub (anonymous) | Posted February 04, 2013 at 07:55:48 in reply to Comment 85791

To be fair, I could ask the same question with regards to #TOcouncil, #TOplan, #TOmedia, #TOarts, #TOmusic, #TOfood, #bikeTO, etc.

Permalink | Context

By Dewey (anonymous) | Posted February 06, 2013 at 16:48:59 in reply to Comment 85795

If your library is small enough, you don't need a filing system.

Permalink | Context

By highwater (registered) | Posted February 03, 2013 at 20:54:29 in reply to Comment 85791

Huh. Don't know what to tell you.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Goin'Downtown (registered) | Posted February 07, 2013 at 19:24:25

Cool stuff, Wayne. I'll be passing that along.

Permalink | Context

View Comments: Nested | Flat

Post a Comment

You must be logged in to comment.

Events Calendar

There are no upcoming events right now.
Why not post one?

Recent Articles

Article Archives

Blog Archives

Site Tools