In Praise of the Hashtag (HT: @sandrinehilaire)

Julia Turner writes about the hashtag in the New York Times: I've gone a bit off Twitter lately, due to the company's pivot towards a passive media stream, its new antipathy towards developers, and its focus on ad-revenue. Nonetheless, I find hashtags to be an amazingly cool new literary form of sotto voce, witty aside or commentary.

[T]he hashtag, for the dexterous user, is a versatile tool — one that can be deployed in a host of linguistically complex ways. In addition to serving as metadata (#whatthetweetisabout), the hashtag gives the writer the opportunity to comment on his own emotional state, to sarcastically undercut his own tweet, to construct an extra layer of irony, to offer a flash of evocative imagery or to deliver metaphors with striking economy. It’s a device that allows the best writers to operate in multiple registers at once, in a compressed space. It’s the Tuvan throat singing of the Internet.

The Tuvan throat singing of the Internet? I love it.

If the metaphor serves to dispense with the simile’s “like” or “as” — “Your face is a summer’s day” rather than “Your face is like a summer’s day” — then the hashtag strips the line down even further: “Your face. #summerday.”

If you've hated the hashtag, this article might sway you to its virtues. It's still mostly confined to social media posts, but...well...I've used it in text messages before like a giant nerd. #confession

Read it all here: