Hashtags (#)

Article

#Hashtags

By Godstime Aisosa Osague

March 29, 2021

The Hash and the Tag

One of the earliest known regular users of the hash symbol as it is popularly called today was Sir Isaac Newton

Godstime Aisosa Osague

Digital Content Creator

You probably have been using hashtags for quite sometime now and you didn’t have to read any special manual to understand how they are used because, they are kind of straightforward and easy to understand. Or, you have seen people use hashtags a lot of times, and maybe you have used them a few times too, or never used them at all. Whichever category you belong to, this article will acquaint you with what hashtags truly are, how they came about, and the correct way to use them.

 

What Are Hashtags?

Among some of the cultural revolutions technology has brought about is the gift of hashtags. Hashtags are so interesting to use that it is often tempting to say they have come to stay, especially due to how they begin and lead trends, how they are used to track specific concepts and tags, and so on. However, it will be hasty conclusion to rule that they have come to stay, even though that may not be far from the truth as they have been around for a long time. Nevertheless, we live in an era of technological dynamism, and the era has clearly given us reasons to conclude that change is constant.

 

So, why are they called hashtags? Hashtags are made up of two words — a “HASH” (#), which was referred to as the number character or number mark in different instances in the 1800s, the pound sign or numero sign in the early 20th Century, especially in North America, but was first referred to as the hash sign in South African writings of the 1960s, and a “TAG”, which is a label associated with something for easy identification, or from another viewpoint, a unique name associated with something to describe and identify them in a particular way. So, when a tag is prefixed by the hash symbol to describe it uniquely, and to identify it in a particular way, a hashtag is created. In other words, when something, like a word, phrase or sentence is attached to the hash symbol for some sort of special description and identification — e.g. #EndSARS — that is a hashtag.

 

From the dictionary point of view, the Merriam Webster Dictionary defines a hashtag as “a word or phrase preceded by the symbol # that classifies or categorizes the accompanying text (such as a tweet)”, and the Oxford Advanced Learners Dictionary defines it as “a word or phrase with the symbol ‘#’ in front of it, used on social media websites and apps so that you can search for all messages with the same subject”. From those viewpoints, a hashtag can be said to be a label that classifies a word or phrase in the manner described, so that similar subjects can be located easily on the Internet when searched for with a particular hashtag. So, this makes a hashtag take a precise function of a metadata which is the quality of easy search.

 

Brief History of the Hashtag

The first use of a hashtag could be traced to ancient Rome where the abbreviation “lb”, denoting libra pondo was used to mark the measurement for pound by weight. As time passed, in order to avoid the confusions of mistaking the lowercase letter “l” in libra for the figure “1”, a little horizontal line was added to the top part of the letter for clarity and a new symbol (℔) was created.

 

One of the earliest known regular users of the hash symbol as it is popularly called today was Sir Isaac Newton, whose 17th Century writings showed his broad usage of the symbol, hence, the popularity of the symbol grew, and consequently, it was added to the printing machine which further popularized its use in writing. Sir Isaac Newton’s use and style of the symbol could be said to be the beginning of the evolution of the symbol to what we know it as today, as the popularity of the symbol in writing created a need for further clarity, and instead of the new symbol (℔) that was formed as a way of differentiating the lowercase letter “l” in libra from the figure “1”, double strikethroughs were introduced, and the hash sign (#) as we know it today was born.

 

Isaac Newton's style of the pound sign, suggesting the evolution from

Isaac Newton’s style of the pound sign, suggesting the evolution from “℔” toward “#”
Source: Libra pondo abbreviation newton.jpg


Another party that played a significant role in the popularity of the hash sign was the Bell Laboratories during the production of their touch tone telephones with dial buttons. Upon arranging the dial buttons on a grid pattern, they had two empty spaces left beside 0 (zero), and the company had its researchers run a search on which symbols could occupy the empty spots, and the asterisk (*), also commonly called star in some parts of the world, and hash (#) symbols found their way into the telephone, and remained afterwards to this day. Subsequently, the hash symbol symbol was officially called an octothorpe, which was derived from the eight points of the lines, but there is no generally accepted origin for the name, however, octo signifies eight.

 

Modern History

The use of hashtags in information technology (IT) is not new to the world as the hash symbol was used in the 1970s to highlight specific pieces of text, as well as special keywords in the C programming language, respectively. In the 1980s also, the hash sign was used similar to the way it is used on social media today to label groups, channels and topics across the IRC (Internet Relay Chat) network. However, in 2007, there was a dramatic surge in the use and popularity of hashtags as a Twitter user by the name, Chris Messina showed the first modern-day use of a hashtag in their 2007 August 23rd tweet:

 

how do you feel about using # (pound) for groups. As in #barcamp [msg]?

 

Though, the use of hashtags in the manner Messina proposed was not adopted immediately by Twitter, however, other Twitter users were inspired to use hashtags in that manner to categorize content of interest, and during the 2007 San Diego forest fires, and the 2009/2010 Iranian elections protests, hashtags gained popularity beyond boundaries, and on the 2nd of July 2009, Twitter started hyperlinking all hashtags in users’ tweets to their search results, and in 2010, they introduced the Trending Topics feature which displayed hashtags from tweets. Since that time, I’m sure we know the rest of the story — hashtags found their way into other popular social media sites, and into the dictionary as well.

 

Importance / Purpose of Hashtags

Hashtags have become so amazingly important for describing, identifying, and retrieving content of some sort across the Internet, especially in a world where information explodes by the second. They help us find our way easily through the clusters and congestion of information to relevant content. They have become an effective search tool for content published and tagged accordingly on the Internet, enhancing the search process. With hashtags, we can now reach wider audiences in a twinkling of an eye and with almost no physical and mental effort, and such audiences can access our content easily and with almost no accessibility restrictions.

 

Among other sterling benefits of hashtags, they bring about coordination with wide usage of hashtags, as lots of information on a variety of topics or disciplines can be identified and retrieved when the content creators correlate their content using industry related / similar hashtags, for instance, #NigerianJollof, #blueskyphotos, #COVID19. Information seekers are able to find content related to these hashtags by searching with the same hashtag, thus, saving them the stress of going through the clusters of related items in a traditional search system.

 

Hashtag Guidelines

It is common these days to see people prefix any word, phrase, or sentence with the hash symbol and use same in any context as a hashtag. Though, that actually is a hashtag, however, there are hashtag best practices that all hashtag users and potential users should know about and I’ll share them with you.

 

When using a hashtag on any social media platform or on the internet in general,

  • it is best for your page or account to be public and not private, especially if you aim to reach a wide range of audience or create an awareness with your hashtag;
  • it is best to do a little research into the area you want to create a content about to see how hashtags in that area are being used;
  • it is necessary that in using a hashtag, you make them short, direct and related to your business or whatever content you are creating;
  • it is important to know that hashtags are not necessary when you are replying to a post or simply dropping a comment;
  • it is best to not use too many hashtags, however, that could be okay if you run a blog or a very busy platform that engages traffic, otherwise, doing so would make your content look spammy;
  • it is very necessary that you use hashtags that are not very popular but have high number of users, when you’re trying to create noticeable access points. Inasmuch as it is good to use popular hashtags, it is also useless when your content gets lost in the middle of it all because, the number of persons using the same hashtag runs into millions, or a high hundreds of thousands;
  • it is necessary that you engage people who respond to your content if your hashtag is about business or a service, as they could be potential customers;
  • it is not right to punctuate hashtags, just go straight to the point as in, #food #makeup #morning, etc., and not #food,makeup,morning. This would not work for you.

 

Tracking Hashtags

Tracking hashtags has to do with observing and calculating metrics like how they are used, when they are used, where they are used, and who uses them.

 

There are several hashtag tracking tools out there that can help you track your hashtag and other people’s, as well as analyse their impact. You could try some free ones out by conducting a simple Internet search using key phrases like “free hashtag tracking tools“. You may also see some free video tutorials online on hashtags for visual understanding.

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A New Direction

Article

A New Direction

By Adaeze Theresa Ogeah

January 9, 2020

Into the Future

In our new series, we will be engaging you with HOW-TOs, including hands-on experience capable of landing you a digital career and a gig in the digital economy.

Adaeze Theresa Ogeah

Adaeze Theresa Ogeah

Digital Content Creator

Welcome once again to DigitalCitizens and to the Year 2021. It’s been a roller coaster getting to this point, right from the start of 2020 to the start of a new year of happiness.

 

In our series of digital technologies, we have together explored the benefits of innovative technologies, however, on today’s Insight, I will be giving centre place to the internet and social media, because of how they came through for humankind throughout the low and high periods of the COVID-19 phase of 2020.

 

Undoubtedly, the internet came through for our entire world by enabling real-time dissemination of information with evident positive results, both in the areas of debunking fake information and equipping residents with the right information. Also, the world witnessed a rise in the development of mobile and web applications which came in timely and handy in the fight against the coronavirus, and in helping us engage meaningfully remotely, and through the internet as well, we got to appreciate the untold efforts of healthcare providers and researchers, and the creativity in us which many didn’t know they were capable of until they were disconnected physically from people they ordinarily would engage with regularly, and started sitting put at home all day with 24 hours to charge up their brains.

 

While the internet in general, was unlocking new doors, there were lots of fakes flying around on social media which like never before, motivated developers of such platforms, governmental and non-governmental agencies, as well as individuals to leverage same platforms for education, information dissemination, skill impartation and acquisition, gig employment, among other unprecedented developments. Thanks to social media for being easy and inexpensive to use, for creating jobs and businesses for many, and also for being a huge channel for information dissemination. Sadly, social media has a notorious reputation as top carriers of fake news, and in fact, they are synonymous to fake news for some people, while for some others, they are just another chillout spot to hook up with friends and family, share moods with the world, give an impression of new achievement or rise in status, compete with others, flaunt a new acquisition or lifestyle, share links, create new or use existing hashtags to start or follow a trend, etc. Thankfully, the role social media played in humankind’s adaptation to a new normal which this generation had no clue of its brutal stings of no social contacts and staying at home all day, seven days a week, was phenomenal, and the benefits of social media cannot be overemphasized.

 

Nonetheless, now that access to virtually any person, place of thing has become easier and quicker than ever before through technological developments we have seen in the immediate past year, I am curious and inquiring from you right now if you’ve ever been hacked? I mean, have you received a text or an email notifying you that someone in another location just signed into your social media or email account? Have you ever gotten a message from your browser notifying you that one or more of your passwords may have been compromised? Or have you received a call or chat from your friend asking you why you sent them a friend request again on Facebook? Maybe yours is that you got a friend request from yourself, or you received an SMS notification requesting you to confirm payment when you haven’t even placed an order for anything, and the list goes on and on. However, if you answered Yes to any of those, you are not alone, and you’re in the right place where we will be engaging you with our new series of HOW-TOs, including how to protect your digital identity. And if none of those hack incidents is applicable to you, you’re equally not left out in the series, as we’ll be dishing out simple and practicable ways to excel in a digital economy. So, what is it that you’re to expect from us this year? Yes, we will be giving you a hands-on experience capable of landing you a digital career and a gig in the digital economy.

 

Once again, on behalf of our Content Creation Team, I wish you a Happy New Year, and we say thank you for coming around to read our articles.

 
 

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Technologies of the Future — Self-driving Cars

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Technologies of the Future

Self-driving Cars

By Godstime Aisosa Osague

December 7, 2020

Autonomy in Cars

...it is highly anticipated...that electric cars would eventually override the need for hybrids, as conscious steps are being taken to build better technologies that meet that demand

Godstime Aisosa Osague

Digital Content Creator

The industrial world among other occupational sectors has experienced massive revolution as a consequence of digitization which is spreading like wildfire across walks of life. Among other industries which have had their share of the digital revolution is the automobile industry which has developed in leaps and bounds from the impact of digitization. The industry is a large one and an integral part of our lives today, as automobiles, which arguably are the most used means of transportation among humans play a role that cannot be undermined.

 

Before anything else, let’s take a ride down the history lane.

 

The history of automobile invention dates way back before the 15th Century when Leonardo da Vinci engaged himself with making varieties of sketch designs of vehicle models. However, as research has it, there is no definite answer as to whom invented the first car, as evidences proved the existence of steam, electric, and gasoline cars centuries ago. Nonetheless, it is important to note that studies claim the Greeks invented gears, and the Romans who only before hand realized a car was just as good as the roads it was driven on, brought about the idea of good roads, and together, these developments led to the build up of the various levels of success attained with automobiles. However, most historical accounts unanimously honoured the German mechanical engineer and inventor, Karl Friedrich Benz as the first to practically build the world’s first automobile powered by an internal-combustion engine, a feat that happened between 1886 and 1887. Notwithstanding, several other inventors played significant roles in the developmental process of automobiles, even before Karl Benz’s ground-breaking success.

 

Now, that we have had a historical exposition on the development of automobiles, let’s take a look into their future.

 

Over decades, there have been amazing inventions in the automobile industry that have astonished the world, and from the look of things, innovations in the industry are not stopping anytime soon. However, there is this development in the industry that has got everyone thinking for quite some years now, and that is the concept of self-driving cars.

 

Self-driving cars, or autonomous or driverless cars as some have named them are cars that a human is not required to take control of its wheels, and quite a good number of companies like, Waymo, Uber, Nissan, Tesla, Volkswagen, etc., have long taken the invention of autonomous vehicles into consideration, and today, while some companies have successfully carried out a test run of these machines, some others have them in full operation, however, they are used currently for carrying out few tasks that require hitting the road, like drop shipping within a defined perimeter. Although autonomous cars have statistically been reported to be much safer than traditional vehicles, the question is, “how well have we taken hold of this future?” So, let’s now take a look at the components of self-driving cars, how they navigate our cities, and the claimed advantages they have over their long existing traditional cousins.

 

FEATURES OF SELF DRIVING CARS

Self-driving cars make use of sensors and software to control, navigate and fully operate themselves. Through the use of sensors like “radar”, these cars are able to create and maintain a clear map of roads, streets, and even the tiniest components in their environment like bumps, turns, buildings, poles, and humans of course, for safety and optimum functionality. According to research, there would be over 500 autonomous cars available globally by 2022. And though the advancement of artificial intelligence (AI) with regards to autonomous cars tends to be a lot more difficult than people expect, some cars have already been developed with some autonomous functions like self parking, and automatic collision avoidance — features which contribute greatly to the reduction of road accidents, however, don’t qualify such cars as fully autonomous, not until they can relate properly with their environment in the context of understanding sudden environmental circumstances and changes like an emergency, poor or clement weather, and even a spontaneous breakdown of any part of the vehicle.

 

Discussing features further, some companies like Tesla, Waymo, Uber, Volkswagen, Nissan, among others, have made appreciable strides towards the realization of autonomy in cars. For instance, Tesla has built cars that utilize neural networks, cameras, radar and ultrasonic sensors to read their environment. Waymo has approached autonomy from a more analytical approach by employing high resolution cameras and “Lidar”, a major component known to be the laser scanner which the self-driving car uses to transmit pulses to things and objects around it, while taking and keeping record of the time and distance the pulses have to travel, and how quickly they come back. This is a communication method closely related to echolocation. Uber’s autonomous prototypes use 64 laser beams along with other censors to construct a map of their environment. Volkswagen revealed plans to develop autonomous vehicles (AV) by 2023 with a target of one million electric cars to be produced by the end of 2023. And Nissan also has revealed an agenda to produce eight new electric cars by 2022.

 

Among other interesting features, autonomous cars which also are called electric cars by some have been said to integrate better with electric engines which would make them play significant roles in the attainment of global climate change goals, as well as make their drivers, who then become like passengers, have lesser time committed to driving, while focusing on other things.

 

The astounding features nonetheless, recorded challenges with self-driving cars like crashes caused by drivers putting so much faith in the autonomy of the car, have given rise to notions which negate the possibility of full autonomy in cars, especially with regards to them operating at a human’s level of intelligence, judgement, and spontaneous response to a sudden contingencies. In that light, let’s take a look at various skepticisms about full autonomy in cars.

 

Dr. Gill Pratt, Chief Executive Officer of Toyota Research Institute (TRI) has expressed his opinion that, none in the IT or automobile industries is close to solving all of the problems associated with autonomous cars, hence, Toyota has taken a two-side path to it. While it’s fully and actively involved working on the full autonomy of electric vehicles, it’s also working towards the development of more sophisticated driver assistance products. Similarly, consumers have raised questions about who takes the blame and suffers the consequences, as well as shoulders the responsibilities when cars on autopilot mode make costly mistakes. The driver or the company? Some have also expressed concerns about who becomes responsible when a child darts into the middle of the road and the car makes a mistake, either by taking a turn, only to hit someone else, or ramp into a road pavement? However, reports have shown that in crash cases where electric cars drivers reported their cars to be on autopilot before the crash, the drivers were held liable in court, and that has led people to say that the idea of full autonomy in cars is useless, if one still has to pay attention to how well the car is doing what it’s meant to do. Well, these are some of the biggest challenges faced with the use of self-driving cars, even though they’ve recorded an appreciable level of success. By the way, a survey in the University of Michigan revealed that 96.2% of people would still love to have a steering wheel, a brake pedal, and an accelerator, as people still very much enjoy driving as an activity.

 

Against all odds, achieving fully autonomous cars doesn’t seem like an idea that will be jettisoned, as such cars appear to be integral parts of the technology of the future. With facts on ground, it is highly anticipated by some companies that electric cars would eventually override the need for hybrids, as conscious steps are being taken to build better technologies to meet that demand, however, full autonomy in cars still remains a debate until an undisputable breakthrough is recorded. And while chances of fully autonomous vehicles succeeding remains a hope for potential owners, on the other side of the coin, it means everyday struggle and vast input of hard work for inventors until the dream becomes a reality.

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5G NETWORK — A CALL TO LIBERATION OR DOOM

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5G NETWORK

A CALL TO LIBERATION OR DOOM?

By Adaeze Theresa Ogeah

September 10, 2020

Why 5G?

The 4G and 3G networks did not have as much controversies like their 5G cousin, rather, they were widely accepted and seen as good steps towards civilization. So, what went wrong with the 5G?

Adaeze Theresa Ogeah

Adaeze Theresa Ogeah

Digital Content Creator

Technology is a gift to mankind, to make life easy and better for us. Throughout the years, we have seen series of technological developments which have helped improve standards of living which we all are beneficiaries of, either by the use of our mobile phones, or other electronic gadgets, and all these have been facilitated by a communication and information network.

The above notwithstanding, words in the streets are that as technology advances, the greater danger it poses. The general saying that ‘anything that has an advantage has its disadvantage’ may be widely accepted, but the question is, “how bad are the disadvantages of technological advancements on us?” Could technology have caused the current global COVID-19 outbreak? Could there be more to the 5G technology than meets the eyes? Believe me, the “evil 5G” theory, otherwise known as the 5G “Conspiracy Theory” is trending with the man in the street, and gaining huge support as well. However, what is your take on this? Do you agree with the said theory?  Or could this conclusion be out of sheer ignorance and absence of basic knowledge about the inception and progression of mobile networks?

Despite anything to the contrary, it should be noted for one that the development of the 5G network did not just start today (with the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic), however, the Fifth Generation (5G) technology standard for cellular networks gained huge attention with the COVID-19 pandemic, and has wireless networks investing heavily in it, but it is a network in potentiality and geometric progression. And just like living organisms evolve in their form for better adaptability to their environment, the network chain is not left out, hence, the rapid rate of global civilization has now created a need for an evolution in networks, thus, the need for a transitioning from the Fourth Generation (4G) network to a Fifth (5G), and even higher. In the light of that, the 5G network which is not entirely new, as thought by many, may not necessarily have any direct link with the “evils” attached to it.

5G NETWORK, THE ATTENTION SEEKER

Why the sudden buzz? One may ask. The Fourth Generation (4G) and Third Generation (3G) networks did not have as much controversies like their 5G cousin, rather, they were widely accepted and seen as good steps towards civilization, while same took quite a turn for the 5G Network, and led to contentious comments and conclusions. This I owe to the current lapses in the global health system — especially in the areas of concealment of valuable information, and political interference in the health and safety of citizens — which makes some people feel technology has given the best it can give in the health sector, hence, further introduction of seemingly better technology is nothing but calling adverse effects upon humanity. Unsurprisingly, some proponents of the said “Conspiracy Theory” do not even have basic knowledge of how networks function, or how much more technology can positively impact health and safety. Well, I don’t blame it all on them, as they are victims of hearsay — one person says something, another hears, and yet another reports, and it spreads like wild fire with varying versions. For that reason, appropriate stakeholders should oblige citizens proper enlightenment about the functions and operations of digital cellular networks, and the need for higher versions of networks, such as the 5G, else, the tendency of making fallacious statements and reaching unsound conclusions will linger.

WHY THE CONCERN?

As we all know, mobile phones have become an integral part of our society, and they are used in virtually every sphere of life, from communication to health, to business, an so on, and this has been the norm since the era of the 2G network. Similarly, the 5G network enables us to do same, but at a higher frequency, transforming the effects of digital connectivity and providing users access to unlimited data quantities. However, the major concern with the 5G network springs up from the claimed hazards of the technology to human health. People are worried about their health, and they fear that this somewhat new technology is their doom. Hence, this concern has led to several investigations and studies by professionals in the field, to correct the notion that 5G network radiation is the cause of some deaths in places where 5G cell sites and mast stations are situated, as propelled by some conspiracy theorists, who also propound that the coronavirus is technically transmitted through the 5G network. Yet another fraction of the theorists claim that the 5G network causes death by suppressing the immune system, thus, making the human body susceptible to damage, and I begin to wonder why the 4G and 3G networks spared our lives. Or, could we have been dying slowly, yet unaware?  Hmm! This calls for personal reflection, but with absolute certainty about the level of knowledge we possess about the phenomenon, else, we risk downgrading the hard work of those working tirelessly to ensure we have fast Internet, and better usage experience.

Now, focusing on radiation as the primary cause of death with the 5G network, we should know that in different ways, we have been exposing ourselves to electromagnetic radiations, from electronic devices we have in our homes like televisions, to natural lighting, and more specifically, sunlight. 

It is important to note that mobile phones which are the primary contact of 5G transmission are low powered radio frequency transmitters, and they only transmit when powered on. According to the World Health Organization, mobile phones communicate by transmitting radio waves through a network of fixed antennas called base stations. This is non-ionizing, that is, even with interaction with the human body, it cannot break the DNA and cause damages to the human cells like the X-ray, Ultraviolet ray and Gamma ray. Furthermore, research from the past has not established any adverse health condition to be the effect of mobile phones and its networking system.

THE NEED FOR 5G NETWORK

Amidst fear that the 5G network was developed to doom the world, it is worthy to note that which the network is said to do.

  1. It is designed with the capacity of connecting billions of devices, especially in the area of virtual reality and artificial intelligence.
  2. It gives access to real-time video translation and collaboration.
  3. With the production of more mast stations, it will lower the level of radiation exposure, owing to the fact that it will run at lower power levels. Hence, the closer the stations, the lesser the exposure.

The above facts notwithstanding, there are still concerns about the said network.  In South Korea for instance, where the network has been put to test, it was subjected to both positive and negative reviews, and obviously, the 5G technology hasn’t lived up to its hype as an omniscient network.

Personally, I am an advocate for improvement and advancement, and I think we have not seen the end of the network evolution. From the emergence of 1G in 1979, and with the advancement in digital and communications technologies each year brings, it would only be logical to conclude that the year 2020 is just another year of new and greater things to come, as the year has shown us quite some interesting shades of technology, and the extent to which technology can stretch, as the new normal introduced by the COVID-19 pandemic has made our world more complicated, digital and connected than ever, hence, the need for a new and higher level of connectedness.

GET IT STRAIGHT

Having shed light on the fifth generation technology standard for cellular networks (5G), and how it is perceived by a fraction of the people, kindly note that this article is not aimed at supporting or disputing a particular claim, rather, its aim is to educate its readers, by furnishing them with basic information about the 5G network, for proper understanding.

I’ll leave you with this: “should we put a stop to technological advancements due to fear of unknown causes?” Remember there are always two sides to a coin, hence, the path is yours to choose.

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    Ogeah, A. T. (2020, September 10). 5G Network: A Call to Liberation Or Doom? Retrieved from Digital Citizens: https://digitalcitizens.tech/insights/5g-network-a-call-to-liberation-or-doom/

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