hashtag n. (on social media web sites and applications) a word or phrase preceded by a hash and used to identify messages relating to a specific topic; (also) the hash symbol itself, when used in this way. Hashtags originated on, and are chiefly associated with, the social networking service Twitter. (Oxford English Dictionary)
In an age where social media reigns supreme, the hashtag has emerged as a powerful catalyst for human interaction. Hashtags drive activism (#Occupy, #HeForShe, #BringBackOurGirls), mourning (#63NotOut, #PhilipSeymourHoffman), celebrity-watching (#WhatJayZSaidToSolange, #RoyalBaby) and product promotion (Taylor Swift’s #ShakeItOff campaign, Toyota’s #WishGranted campaign). Hashtags foster dialogue by providing a system of language with its own particular conventions and etiquette. Naming ‘hashtag’ the Word of the Year in 2012, the American Dialectic Society described it as a ‘ubiquitous phenomenon in online talk’. Indeed, the ubiquitous nature of the hashtag was confirmed when the term was officially added to the Oxford English Dictionary in June 2014.
The #hashtag research stream offers an inclusive interdisciplinary platform for exploring the rise to prominence and the significance of the hashtag within and beyond the context of society and social media in the 21st century. Activites will include a series of conferences, workshops, seminars and publications along with the development of courses, on-line programmes, the building of repositories and other related channels for sharing and disseminating knowledge and information.