Tuesday, November 06, 2012

In Praise of the Hashtag - NYTimes.com:

These constructions all tend toward the particular — a sardonic twist to the tweet. But the hashtag can also be a joke about itself, as when the HBO wunderkind Lena Dunham tweets, “What’s my place in it all? #questionsevenmymomcantanswer.” Part of the joke is that her hashtag is so elaborate, so concatenated, that no one else wouldever conceive of using it. It’s a metajoke about metadata — a bit like setting up an entire hanging file just to store a single Post-it.

The hashtag ethos has also been adopted beyond Twitter. Noted Twitterer Kanye West popularized the phrase “hashtag rap” a few years ago, to describe a hip-hop rhyme scheme that’s been around longer than Twitter but echoes the way the hashtag compresses comparisons. In his 2009 hit “Forever,” the rapper Drake sings, “Swimming in the money, come and find me — Nemo/If I was at the club you know I balled — chemo.” 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.”