The #Hashtag Craze

By Joey Vento

Whenever I talk to someone who doesn’t understand Twitter, one of their first questions is about the hashtag. They don’t understand what it does or when to use it. My answer is that it’s a simple way for people to search for tweets about the same topics. Whether you want to know what everybody is saying about an award show (American Music Awards using #AMAs) or a sports game, you can have a conversation with thousands of strangers. Sure, people use hashtags all time unnecessarily or maybe sarcastically. I mean, people are even using “hashtags” on their Facebook statuses. When those same Twitter-challenged people ask me about that, I have no answer. It’s strictly a Twitter thing. For now.

In 2010 the Library of Congress announced they were going to archive tweets forever, and some people probably thought it was ridiculous. But twitter data represents a lot of what is going on in the minds of people, and with the use of hashtags, its easy to follow. Even scientists can use Twitter. While only about 13% of Americans use the social networking site, it’s growing. And the most intriguing aspect of the site is the hashtag because it organizes all of the conversations going on. What better way to get data on something than listening to a conversation that thousands of people are having about it?

What the hashtag could do if it were used in other places of the internet is create a huge database of information. Right now only Twitter is able to organize such conversation but it could work other places. It could definitely work for Facebook, but I don’t know if Zuckerberg and company is willing to accept Twitter as a trendsetting. But even more than Facebook, the hashtag could do a lot more for the web than I’m sure some initially thought.

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