A case for non-functional natural language hashtags

I could not stand hashtags about a year ago unless they were used for functional purposes on Twitter. At least they are functional on Facebook and other services now too. By functional, I mean clicking a hashtag and bringing up related posts, statuses, images etc.

What really got me was when my friends and family started to use hashtags in everyday communication: text messages and even verbal sentences. WHAT? However, I started to realize and deduce the usefulness of possibly legitimate progression in natural language.

Just like articles can have an aside, a hashtag can act as an aside for sentences.

Compare the following statements:

  1. Brian went walking in the park. #exercise #sunnyday
  2. Brian went walking in the park and got some exercise on a sunny day.

The fact that Brian went walking in the park is clearly what is most important in the first statement. There is an instantly identifiable structure of importance. In statement two, all parts of the statement are given equal significance.

Maybe it is because I have data oriented tendencies, but I like this new ability to declare primary and secondary hierarchies within statements. In addition to their digital functionality of classification, hashtags also have the ability to make absolutely clear what is important information and what is extra information in natural language.

On Curiosity, Imagination

I share this with full acknowledgement that I still have immense amounts to learn and improve upon and that I can learn so much from those around me. I am often asked “How do you know about all this stuff?” “Where did you go to school for this?”. I’m sure many of you proficient at something get asked the same thing. Usually I just shrug my shoulders and say I just picked it up I guess.

Really I do have an answer. I ask questions. I ask lots of questions. I look up anything I have the slightest curiosity about. Sometimes I learn at a speed that is uncomfortable to the confines and expectations of society. Topics, jobs, projects, tasks that are interesting at one point become a been there, done that, asked those questions checkbox all too soon. However, even with those negatives, please stay curious. Please keep asking questions.

Imagination and curiosity are so often overlooked and even mocked. At the same time, every manufactured object you see and use is the product of someone’s imagination. What if. Don’t stop wondering. Current realities are not a destination but a point along a journey. I share this with all of you but it is just as much if not more a reminder to myself.

Full Script ColdFusion Component Syntax Highlighting on GitHub


GitHub uses an open source library, pygments for syntax highlighting. This is issue #756 on Bitbucket.

I’ve been primarily using full script components instead of tag components for the last year or so. In an MVC application this works out very well. The controllers and models are scripted while the views are html and cfml tags. Developers can write application logic quickly and see it clearly in script. Designers work with the tag based markup they are used to. Win – Win.

One of the things that has bugged me about script components when pushed to GitHub is lack of syntax highlighting. It is quite difficult to quickly scan the code of a collaborator or with the popularity of Gists, example code on many popular blogs. Here is an example of a ColdFusion component Gist:

Ew – the above example is hard to follow. So now I just add <cfscript> to all of my full script components even though not required by the language specification. Then all of our GitHub repositories and Gists pick up proper syntax highlighting:

Much better. So there you have it. You may not find the annoyance enough to include <cfscript> at the top of your Gists or .cfc files. In our case we scan and share on GitHub frequently so it is beneficial to have some syntax highlighting for full script ColdFusion components

Current Project Philosophy Explained

“I have fun building data driven, emotionally binding experiences that grow active and measurable audiences”

That is a mouthful. It sounds like jargon and a personal marketing gimmick. However that phrase is founded on some seriously thought out values in how I carry out professional projects.

  1. Have fun. If I or anyone I’m working with isn’t enjoying themselves then why am I working on the project? I don’t expect every moment to be the cat’s pajamas but if long term anxiety or frustration start kicking in I figure out why. Otherwise the project and end user will suffer.
  2. Make data driven decisions. A good decision – at least in business – needs quantifiable reasoning. Whenever there are surveys, analytics, or data to support a decision, I use it. If there isn’t I figure out how to obtain facts to support project decisions. If making updates to an existing project, most of this data comes from #4, measuring existing audiences.
  3. Build emotionally binding experiences. Every time you enjoy something, it is moreso an emotional reaction than a methodical logical response. If you got good service at a restaurant it made you feel good. If something is pretty it makes you feel good. If something is bug free and works better than expected it makes you feel good. Great customer service makes you feel good. Clients or customers start tying outstanding experiences to your brand and that is how your product or service is going to win in a competitive marketplace. I do everything I can to make a customer experience “emotionally binding” in a way that is going to make them feel great.
  4. Grow active, measurable audiences. Performing #2 and #3 if performed correctly should start garnering an active audience. The only way you are going to have the data to support proper decisions, is to measure your audience. Feedback is crucial. What features, techniques, products, services, etc is your audience pleased about? Not? This is the path to proper decisions and ultimately to create emotionally binding experiences.



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