Progressives Seize 2.0 Meme on Twitter

Obama 2.0

Progressive activists on Twitter have begun organically taking over the 2.0 meme for hashtags. The pattern is growing and appears well on its way to going viral.


What is a meme?  According to Wikipedia: “The term Internet meme is a phrase used to describe a catchphrase or concept that spreads quickly from person to person via the Internet, much like an esoteric inside joke. The term is a reference to the concept of memes, although this concept refers to a much broader category of cultural information.”

Its meaning has evolved in the digital age, having roots with the famous atheist Richard Dawkins:  “The British scientist Richard Dawkins introduced the word “meme” in The Selfish Gene (1976) as a basis for discussion of evolutionary principles in explaining the spread of ideas and cultural phenomena. Examples of memes given in the book included melodies, catch-phrases, beliefs (notably religious beliefs), clothing fashion, and the technology of building arches.”

The term 2.0 is closely associated with Tim O’Reilly because of the O’Reilly Media Web 2.0 conference in 2004.

Origins of 2.0 Meme

The feminism movement seems to have been behind the origins of the 2.0 meme on Twitter with the use of the #fem2 hashtag (feminism 2.0).  For the uninitiated, Hashtags were developed as a means to create “groupings” on Twitter. The hash symbol is a convention borrowed primarily from IRC channels, and later from Jaiku’s channels.” There is a good guide on the popular social media guide website Mashable.

From here, the 2.0 idea spread to general political progressivism with the #p2 hashtag.  Others grouping viewpoints on the left include #topprog (top progressives started by Alan Rosenblatt, Ph.D) and #rebelleft, although #p2 is by far the most used today.  In fact #p2 seems to have become the umbrella hashtag for all progressively themed tweets (environment, freedom, unions, immigration, education, science, etc.).  @jgilliam, @myrnatheminx, @jdp23 and @ginacooper would later start a website called TweetProgress that helps left-leaning folks to connect.

Soon after this, #gov20 (government 2.0) was started, probably by @opengovnews.  Its purpose is to use technology to improve government transparency and accountability.  It was a theme used by the Obama campaign, and one of his central goals of reform and transparency in the new administration.  The idea was catching on, but the there were many other hashtags coming into play at the same time that had not jumped on the 2.0, as shown on TweetLeft, a handy little website developed by Chris Meserole after a discussion with Jon Pincus, Sylvia P, MadamaAmbi that makes searching specific progressive themes (such as #green, #Iraq, #edu, etc.) a one click task.


2.0 Meme Catches On

Over the last few months, an increasing number of progressively themed hashtags have been catching onto the 2.0 meme.  The health and green website care2 began using #c2c.  Environmental activists starting ditching various cumbersome  hashtags like #globalwarming and #climatechange to use #co2.  Anti-genital mutilation advocates fired up the #i2 campaign.  The Netsquared project launched the #n2 hashtag to coordinate using the web for social change.  Campaign finance reformers started using #cfr2.

Here is a list of the current progressive causes using the 2.0 meme:

#c2c – healthy and green lifestyles
#cfr2 – campaign finance reform (#CFR is Council on Foreign Relations)
#co2 – climate change (atomic symbol for carbon dioxide) by @3fatcats
#i2 – Intact, an anti-genital mutilation campaign
#fem2 – Feminism (the originators of the 2.0 meme, sometimes use #f2)
#gov20 – using technology to improve government transparency and accountability
#L2 – liberal started recently by @ksquared3 and @Shoq
#n2 – @NetSquared @willcoley Remixing the Web for Social Change: a project of Techsoup, basically meetups around the world for folks who use tech for good
#p2 – progressive, the umbrella hashtag for all progressive themes

Potential 2.0

Some other hashtags used by progressive internet activists researched on include:

#prochoice #woc #fab
#hcr #hc09 #pubop #singlepayer
#green #eco #tcktcktck #cop15 #enviro #wildlife #ecomonday
#mmot #marijuana #norml #mpp #drugwar
#union #EFCA #aflcio #seiu #ibew
#atheism #agnostic #secular #humanist #taot
#JusticeAct #PatriotAct #privacy #justice
#LGBT #gay #SSS #samesexsunday
#RI4A #dreamact #immigration
#black #latino #NativeAmerican #Indigenous
#equalrights #HumanRights
#edu #uni #sci #science
#vegetarian #vegan #MeatlessMonday

Although it is difficult to predict where these things will organically flow, it is likely that many of these will be adapted to the 2.0 meme in the near future as well, sometimes just to truncate the hashtag so it is not as lengthy. A few that look promising would be:

#a2 – a way to unify and shorten atheism and agnosticism
#ind2 – indigenous and Native American Indian themes
#min2 – umbrella for various minority groups rights
#union2 – could be an umbrella for all union issues on the web
#veg2 – or possibly #v2 for vegetarian and vegan tweets

A search of Twazzup determined that the following are already taken by other users and are unlikely to be dislodged by progressively oriented tweet themes:

#e2 taken by Enterprise 2.0
#g2 mixed results
#k2 taken by joomla
#m2 reports of traffic on a road in Deutschland (Germany)
#o2 taken by o2, a UK broadband company that iphone users use.
#q2 taken by sleep and time management
#r2 taken by windows 2008 or sql server desktop
#s2 something in Brazilian
#u2 the band U2
#w2 W2, a US yearly pay stub for taxes
#x2 UK jobs site

Whether the 2.0 meme for progressive causes will continue to grow or fragment is anybody’s guess, but at the moment is appears to have momentum. With important legislation cycling through the US congress over the next year, there may be a strong reason for people to intuitively be on the same page though, which suggests it will continue to gain strength.


3 Responses to Progressives Seize 2.0 Meme on Twitter

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  2. Brooks Bayne November 14, 2009 at 1:18 am

    and, #tcot, the conservative hashtag is more prolific than all these tags combined! try to keep up with us…”progressives”.

    • Ole Ole Olson November 16, 2009 at 11:07 pm

      You are correct Brooks. The conservatives have a HUGE organizational advantage on twitter. It is one of the few places on the web where conservatives have as much influence as they do on the FreeRepublic and StormFront.

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