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Hashtag, you're it [Technically Speaking]

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BACK ON 23 AUGUST 2007, Google interface designer and BarCamp cofounder Chris Messina posed a fateful question on Twitter: How do you feel, he asked, "about using # (pound) for groups. As in #barcamp [msg]?" It was the first use of a hashtag, which is a term preceded by the hash (or pound or number) sign [#] that serves to group similar tweets. People talking about, say, the World Economic Forum, might include #Davos or #WEF in their tweets. Searching Twitter for a hashtag returns all the recent tweets that include it. · In the nearly six years since this humble beginning, hashtags have come a long way. Twitterers have applied it in all sorts of ways. For example, the rhetorical hashtag is used to clarify, comment on (often ironically or sarcastically), or shade the meaning of a tweet. For example, if someone complains about some relatively unimportant issue, but then adds the hashtag #FirstWorldProblem (meaning a complaint that could be experienced only by a privileged person living in a wealthy country), then we know the person gets how trivial it is. · The hashtag game is a pastime that uses special hashtags called, appropriately, gametags to create Twitter-based contests. For example, in early 2012 an unknown hashtag gamer came up with #FiveWordTEDTalks, which asked people to create TED Talks consisting of just five words.

Published in:

Spectrum, IEEE  (Volume:50 ,  Issue: 4 )