Fun fact: if you’ve got a child under the age of ten, hashtags are officially older than them. Wild, right? Here’s the tweet that launched a thousand #ships, posted back in 2007 by open source advocate Chris Messina.
It’s completely bonkers to think about it now, especially since hashtags have long entered mainstream adoption, but this is where the idea came from — one technologist trying to figure out a way for groups to talk easily on Twitter.
I don’t know if Messina could have foreseen that hashtags would ultimately be so popular, or that they would be an integral part of pretty much any social networking app you could care to mention — Instagram, Facebook, you name it.
His idea was so solid, it pretty much became an overnight standard. One guy in Florida even launched his own hashtag-centered media sharing social app called (weirdly) Hi-Fi. This was an attempt to capitalize on the bandwagon. It failed to take off.
I also don’t think Messina predicted that hashtags would ultimately come to represent the best and darkest parts of human nature; for every #DancingManFound, there was #HasJustineSaccoLandedYet. They’ve been used to inspire us to acts of goodness, like sending hundreds of thousands of birthday cards to a terminally ill child, but also acts of cruelty and meanness.
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