If you’re new to Twitter and trying to follow our book club reading of de Kooning: An American Master, these basic definitions might help.
The @ symbol
Use this in front of someone’s Twitter name when you’re giving them credit (retweeting something they originally wrote) or responding to something they tweeted. Twitter adds a hyperlink to the name following the @ symbol. You can click on the name to see more about that person and read their tweets.
For example, here is a tweet of mine from this morning:
(I was responding to a couple of tweets between @cara19 and @vmartinart)
When you use the @ symbol in front of someone’s Twitter name, this tweet appears in a column called “@Replies” on that person’s Twitter page. They’ll be able to see who has responded to their tweet, retweeted what they said, or joined in the conversation.
Which brings me to . . .
Image ©Kim Shields, San Jose Mission Courtyard
The # (hashtag) symbol
I’m going to simplify this definition as best I can. It’s direct from the Alyson Dictionary (I made it up as this is how I understand it).
When you have a group on Twitter that is tweeting about the same thing, the leader of that group designates a specific word (or series of letters and numbers) to use on Twitter. The leader then tells everyone in the group to use this word–preceded by the hashtag–when discussing the subject on Twitter.
This streamlines the conversation. How? Because it makes it easily searchable. If everyone was using a different word or making up their own, the group members would have to conduct multiple searches and guess the possibilities.
Here’s the clincher: The word after the hashtag must be written exactly as described (although capitalization doesn’t seem to make a difference). No spaces!
I, as the leader of the de Kooning book club, designated that our hashtag is #dekooning. I did so in this blog post and in subsequent tweets.
You can go to Twitter Search and type in #dekooning and follow our conversation.