The Hashtag or The Evolution of Language

by Salvatore Pane

Over time, though, the hashtag has evolved into something else — a form that allows for humor, darkness, wordplay and, yes, even poetry. During this same period, Twitter as a corporation recognized the power of the hashtag, which has now become a part of the site’s design, lingo and sales pitch to advertisers. Your particular hashtag, for example, can let the whole world know who’s talking about the release of #Halo4. As a result, we’ve arrived at a strange moment for the hashtag. The people at Twitter are fond of saying that the hashtag is the new URL — and it’s true that you’re just as likely to see the former as the latter these days on-screen at the end of a movie trailer. Yet the rise of the hashtag’s commercial possibilities shouldn’t lead us to overlook what is truly remarkable about it. This bit of utilitarian Web ephemera, invented with functionality squarely in mind, has blossomed into a marvelous and underappreciated literary device.

–Julia Turner on the hashtag in The New York Times

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