December 8th, 2008

public anger

A griot (pronounced /g?i.??/ in English or [??i.o] in French, with a silent t) or jeli (djeli or djéli in French spelling) is a West African poet, praise singer, and wandering musician, considered a repository of oral tradition.Wikipedia

Also an emerging tag for describing the ongoing protest in Athens over a 16 year old being shot to death at point blank range by Athens policemen.

Being used on Flickr, blogs, and Twitter and the meta Not being used by the corporate media (aside: the trailing ‘s’ is lexically significant, classic stemming does not work on tags)

Does anyone know how and where this tag emerged?

Clearly the next evolution in participatory media (and the only type with a future) is figuring out what the tools to discover, distribute and broadcast these meta-media collaborative objects. Who is thinking and writing about this?

Photo by murplejane

8 responses to “Griots”

  1. Ayla says:

    I suppose a merge of GReek-RIOTS…It emerged some hours after the first notes at Twitter, when some users suggested that all comments on the incidents could be collected and tagged with a specific and common label for better tracking and search from people they wanted to learn about.

  2. Julien says:

    I think it’s just a contraction between Greece and Riots, don’t you think?

    Griots as we can find them in Africa or usually rather old and they have the “mission” to tramsit the values and “myths” of a culture, a people accross ages. They are the “living memories”.

    I really think that they have nothing in common!

  3. mimilas says:

    griots = GR (from Greece) + Riot(s)

  4. Kellan says:

    Hey folks, didn’t mean to be ambiguous. Yes, the coinage is clear and obvious, and so spontaneous emergence rather suggests itself. The question about the tag is if folks made a conscience efforts to coordinate, and if so, where they did it.

    Julien, agreed, I was hilighting how meaning can shift so quickly.

    Ayla, that doesn’t line up with the timeline I’m seeing, but if you had some links that would be awesome.

  5. Jacob says:

    decentralized media phenom

  6. Julien says:

    Sorry for misundertanding!

    I see your point now. Well I guess it’s just that these systems are effiscient and it takes only a few hours to syncrhnize everybody over a new word. But I guess it has been the same with regular language. How long does it take to invent a new word and have evrybody use it? I guess it depends only on the communciation means and the size of the crowd. My bet is that it takes and maybe 10years for a “common word” to be “recognized” by everybody. (the adoption of the new word “smiley” could be a nice example)

    Here it’s been very very fast, I guess that’s the speed difference between Twitter/Flickr/Delicious//Blogs and the like with traditional word-of-mouth, plus the fact that the crowd is also wayyy smaller!

  7. Austin Putman says:


    For a second I mistook your post for one by Jan Chipchase. He strikes a similar exploratory tone examining how customs, place, and language are transformed in digital media and vice-versa.

  8. mimilas says:

    I have explain the ‘history’ of the term #griots in a comment that waiting for moderations (with some twitter links)