In just a few years hashtags have emerged from their nerdy origins on IRC to become the way we organize the never slowing flood of information and conversation buzzing around the Interwebz. Most sites now recognize hashtags and more and more people understand what they are all about. Sure, I still use hashtags most for Twitter punch-lines and Instagram lolz. But, as time goes on the world of hashtag-ery becomes more and more mainstream. You can’t watch TV these days without a bombardment of networks telling you to use #GLEEfan4lifeyall to discuss the latest episode. This growing understanding of how hashtags work means their purpose has expanded and culturally, they matter. They helped propel the Arab Spring, fight bullying, and take down a warlord (kind of).
As with anything digital, people are constantly finding intriguing new ways to use #hashtags. They are organizing chaos and re-imagining how we collect memories and retell stories.