Hashtag by Prof Elizabeth Losh (William and Mary, USA)
Celebration and criticism of "hashtag activism" rarely addresses the hashtag itself as an object or tries to locate its place in the history of writing for machines. Hashtag is a long-overdue look at a thing that speaks simultaneously to machines and crowds.
Best Books of 2019-Scholarly Kitchen Object Lessons is a series of short, beautifully designed books about the hidden lives of ordinary things. Hashtags can silence as well as shout. They originate in the quiet of the archive and the breathless suspense of the control room, and find voice in the roar of rallies in the streets. The #hashtag is a composite creation, with two separate but related design histories: one involving the crosshatch symbol and one about the choice of letters after it. Celebration and criticism of hashtag activism rarely address the hashtag as an object or try to locate its place in the history of writing for machines. Although hashtags tend to be associated with Silicon Valley invention myths or celebrity power users, the story of the hashtag is much longer and more surprising, speaking to how we think about naming, identity, and being human in a non-human world. Object Lessons is published in partnership with an essay series in The Atlantic.
About the Author: Elizabeth Losh is Associate Professor of English and American Studies at William and Mary, USA. She is the author of the multi-award-winning The War on Learning: Gaining Ground in the Digital University (2014). Her other publications include Virtualpolitik: An Electronic History of Government Media-Making in a Time of War, Scandal, Disaster, Miscommunication, and Mistakes (2009), Understanding Rhetoric, co-authored with Jonathan Alexander (2013; second edition 2017), and, as editor, MOOC and Their Afterlives: Experiments in Scale and Access in Higher Education, editor (2017).
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