If you’ve seen the last couple of Educast posts and videos about Vine and Instagram, you may have noticed that we’ve been trying to expand the conversation a little bit and really think about the context in which these sorts of creative social media tools function.  We’ve been looking at similarities and differences amongst social media platforms with the goal of being more critical and thoughtful users.

Today, we’re going to look at Hashtags and how they function and have developed across several different social media platforms and services and their sometimes controversial status within digital culture.

Hashtags are an important part of the metadata connected to social media content.  In its most basic sense, the hashtag is a tool for tagging content related to a particular subject. By adding the number sign before a word or phrase, you tag your content with that word or phrase.  For example, I might write a microblog post describing my sister’s withering vegetable garden and include the hashtag “#drought.”  If I posted this microblog on Twitter, the hashtag would allow Twitter to easily group my post with any other post that is also tagged with the word ‘drought.’  This would make it easy for people who are interested in the subject of drought to see any and all tweets related to that subject.  Hashtags therefore become a crucial way in which social media streams are organized and explored and for users who are not otherwise connected to find each other’s content based on shared interests.  When you think about the usual structure of your social network and social media output, it is often based around social relationships.  This could then limit the amounts and kinds of information that you experience within that network.  Hashtags make it easy to follow topics in addition to people, and to possibly expand your social network.

To learn more about hashtags and to see them in action across different platforms, checkout the video below.

Exploring Social Media With #Hashtags 22 December,2015Gabriel Peters-Lazaro

Author

Gabriel Peters-Lazaro

Gabriel Peters-Lazaro researches, designs and produces digital media for innovative learning. He is the media design lead and an instructor in the Media Arts + Practice Division of the School of Cinematic Arts at the University of Southern California. He is a member of the MacArthur Foundation’s Media Activism and Participatory Politics (MAPP) project and is currently working to develop participatory media resources and curricula to support new forms of civic education and engagement for young people. In 2009, he helped create The Junior AV Club, an ongoing project that explores mindful media making and sharing as powerful practices of early childhood learning. As instructor of IML 500 – Digital Media Tools and Tactics, he helps graduate students from across the University harness the powers of video and new media as research tools to support their scholarly pursuits. He received his B.A. in Film Studies from UC Berkeley, completed his M.F.A in Film Directing and Production at UCLA and is a Ph.D. candidate in Media Arts + Practice. He is also an avid surfer.

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