One of the defining things about Twitter has always been the degree to which its own users have shaped the service. And 10 years ago today, a Twitter user named Chris Messina proposed a new way to make it easier to find tweets about a given topic. He suggested marking keywords with a pound sign—a convention that quickly caught on and became known as the hashtag.
To celebrate this anniversary, Twitter cofounder Biz Stone has blogged some thoughts and history. I must confess that I’ve never used hashtags much myself—they feel mechanical rather than human, and I’ve never wanted to be associated with those Twitter users who #compulsively #hashtag #for #no #apparent #reason. Still, they’ve not only served the purpose Messina envisioned, but spread far beyond Twitter and become part of our culture. (See: Sophia Amoruso’s book #Girlboss, one of many instances of the hashtag popping up in contexts that serve no useful purpose—but still speak to people on some emotional level.)