Resurrecting the Hashtag

Robert Fulford in the National Post:

It’s so majestically simple that it always looks good, even if drawn by someone utterly without graphic talent. Good old #. It can’t go wrong.

Even so, it was in decline for years. After generations of vigorous life everywhere in the retailing world where numbers were written, it lost out to computerized invoices and receipts that simply ignored its value. In literature, after centuries showing printers where to put spaces, it was abolished by computers that do the same job with the touch of a keyboard.

It lost its proud place alongside the & and the @, on a shelf higher than both the © and the ®. After a while # appeared mostly in a cameo role on touch-tone phones, a serious comedown.

But lately the pendulum has swung again. On Twitter, the home of microbloggers, the octothorpe has a new career, reborn as the “hashtag.” Tweeters use hashtags to catalogue their tweets. Someone writing about Miles Davis, for instance, will tag his name #Miles. Anyone coming after will be able to find all the tweets dealing with Miles.

I was always found of the “approximately/equal to” symbol (≈) from calculus. That’s not exactly what I’m thinking of, but it’s the closest symbol I could find. The one I’m thinking of is a single squiggly line above an equals sign. If a punctuation mark can be alluring and slightly sexy for its shear ambiguousness, surely this symbol is that.  Can we start rocking that please?

Comments on this entry are closed.