What is a hashtag?

“Child, what is a hashtag? We were thinking with grandpa it originates from German… sounds like Guten Tag or something…”

“Hi Granny! You know hashtag, it is this sign #.”

“Oh, yes! It is on the switchboard, right under 9. I have also seen it as a substitute for “number”: #3, #4… Grandpa is also saying its name is ‘sharp’ or ‘dièse’ in music.”

“Granny, Grandpa plays the violin, hence the association. Hashtag is only seemingly like a sharp/dièse. The latter is higher in pitch by a semitone. The hashtag is quite practical: it filters information by topics. When you put the hashtag before your keyword of interest (e.g. #elections2017), all the publications relevant to this subject topic appear. Thus given the enormous information on the Internet, one can search easily with the hashtag. Imagine Internet is like a gigantic encyclopedia that one cannot read in a lifetime without ‘contents’ or labels. The hashtag performs exactly this function: to provide us only with the topics we wish to read about. Simply put, hashtag has now become a part of the modern alphabet.”

“This sounds useful, Child. I am happy you like it.”

“It does not only sound useful, Granny. It IS useful. Can you imagine your phone directory being chaotic – first names here, surnames there, no alphabet order, whatsoever! How much would that have slowed down your search? Hashtags help order and save time. It is cool not to be looking for a needle in a haystack, no?”

“I got it, Child! What I still don’t get is that … on the news they say that the president wrote hashtag-something and then a blue bird appears on the screen. What is this blue bird about? Looks a bit ill to me!

“This is Twitter, Granny!”

“No, Child! This used to be a normal, yellow bird… They used to chase each other with that weird Sylvester cat…”

Not Tweety, Granny but Twitter! It is a part of the Internet, where messages up to 140 symbols can be exchanged. It is free and you can address your message to the whole world. It is like a telegram but free and online.

“Like a telegram you say… But you cannot touch it, and you do not wait on the queue for hours! Back in the days in the post office I used to…”

“Granny, what is this nostalgia for queueing in the post office? We are talking about instant communication here, no money and no inconvenience. These symbols are enough to pass a meaningful message out there! So these hashtags are used to filter millions of messages each day. They are called Tweets. Hashtags are like labels that can help you find politicians’ and other rock stars’ opinions. It is the SMS of the Internet, but more social: one could include a video, an image… Hashtags are the big thing nowadays!”

“I hope you are healthy, safe and sound! We used to live without hashtags! And by the way, I do not think it works! I am writing #mygranddaughter and the results show everything else, but you!

“But Granny! The hashtag is not a fortuneteller! How can Internet know who your granddaughter is!”

“How very useless!”    :-)…

Author: melangie

A creative mind with a free spirit. Follow me @Admelange

2 thoughts on “What is a hashtag?”

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