Twitter’s #hashtag: Handy search device, or irksome clutter?

Tool is used to mark tweets about anything from #Aardvark to #zoology.

Tool is used to mark tweets about anything from #Aardvark to #zoology

Have you #hashtagged your #conference or #hobby on #Twitter yet, or are you #waiting to figure out the #definition #first?

Hashtagging, the practice of putting the pound symbol (#) in front of a word, has become ubiquitous on Twitter. Some tweets seem to exist merely for the sake of hashtagging as many things as possible in 140 characters.

The idea of tagging something isn’t new — we used to do it in file folders and Rolodexes. Now, we’re doing it online at photo sharing sites, within our Internet bookmarks, and, of course, on Twitter. The concept is simple: Label something so you can easily find it later when conducting a search.

“Hashtags are a great way to keep tabs on live events such as conferences, space shuttle launches, or local protests,” said Jessica Wortley (@minij on Twitter), the communications director for a Michigan state senator.

By using Twitter’s official search function, you can easily track an event or a conference as Wortley suggested — as long as everyone involved agrees on what the hashtag is. You don’t need the # for the search, but that symbol indicates the agreed-upon reference.

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