Happy 10 years and 1 Month, Hashtag
- September 26, 2017
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At this point it is actually hard for me to picture Twitter in an era before iPhones. By the time I really started using Twitter in 2009, the hashtag – and the iPhone – were fairly ubiquitous in tech circles.
Biz Stone’s blog post about the hashtag is a good trip down memory lane:
In the summer of 2007, a web marketing specialist and avid user of Twitter, Chris Messina walked into our grungy office at 164 South Park (yes, people would just walk in back then) and made a suggestion to me and a few other Twitter employees who were sitting nearby. We were working frantically to fix a tech issue that had brought Twitter down, as was often the case in those early days.
His proposal was simple, useful, and fun—just like Twitter. Because brevity is essential on Twitter, he suggested using the “pound” or “hash” character common on phones (this was pre-iPhone) to create groups of related Tweets. It was an undeniably elegant proposal, but I really needed to get back to work. I turned back to my computer screen to help get Twitter back up and running, hurriedly ending the conversation with a sarcastic, “Sure, we’ll get right on that.”
And now, a few years later, the hashtag is ubiquitous on TV, on Twitter, and on advertising as a way to guide viewers to find more information on a topic, or to participate in the discussion.
Update: As I was about to publish this, the venerable 140-character limit has been relaxed for some users of Twitter– apparently testing a new boundary at 280 characters!
In the hope that it will encourage more people to post, Twitter is doubling the number of characters that some users get for a tweet. The test means that a small group of Twitter users will now get 280 characters per tweet instead of the traditional 140 characters.
Twitter’s character limit is a holdover from the app’s early days when tweets were sent as texts, which were limited to 160 characters. It has since become one of the product’s defining characteristics.
I, for one, welcome our new 280-character overlords.