Hashtag Analysis

This short assignment (about 700-900 words) should appear as a a blog post or static page on your website (to officially submit the assignment, email me a link to the page on your site). The goal of this assignment is to better understand how a particular hashtag works to organize a particular community or conversation. Your thinking should address the following sorts of prompts and questions:

  • What hashtag did you choose and why?
  • What is the history and purpose of this hashtag? Who started it and why? Who uses the hashtag? How would you describe this community or informal collection of people? Does everyone use the hashtag for the same purpose?
  • What sort of contributions do people make to this hashtag? Explain how these contributions fit with, expand on, or work against the main purpose of the hashtag. This would be a good opportunity to incorporate specific examples through quotes or embedding material from sites where these examples appear.
  • To what extent did the hashtag fulfill its purpose or achieve its goal? What sort of effect did the hashtag have?

Your work will probably require a little bit of research – not only looking through instances of people using the hashtag but perhaps also looking further into its history, its uses over time, and what has been written about it (if anything).

You are welcome to take your thinking in any direction here. Some hashtags are oriented toward social action (#BlackLivesMatter); some arise around specific events (#SOTU – the President’s State of the Union address); some are just for fun (#ReplaceALetterRuinATvShow; Jimmy Fallon’s weekly hashtags). Some have a very large audience and many participants; some are more local. Any hashtag that allows you to address the questions above will work for our purposes.

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