The origins of the hash tag, pound sign, or number sign has been debated for years. One theory claims that back in early 1900, the Teletype Corporation was the first to use # to denote the word “number.” There are numerous other theories that not only bring that into question, but also question which country the symbol first came into use. I don’t expect a bar fight between a Canadian, an American, and a Brit over the matter but its contentious origins certainly bothers a scholar or two from each of these countries.
Like it or not, Twitter is the company, entity, or “thing,” if trying to explain Twitter to your grandparents” to really put the sign on an altogether new pedestal or platform for its use.
Since then, Facebook has happily embraced/stolen the symbol that now represents a general subject matter. Depending what camp you hail from you’ll decide if it was theft or the simple recognition of Twitter’s significance.
Google has now finally embraced the hashtag. Or has it?
Google announced today that it will now provide users in the United States and Canada with right side search results for hashtags. The caveat, and not a small one, it will not display hashtag search results on the right for Twitter or Facebook. This area will remain reserved for Google+ users, though hashtag searches will provide Twitter/Facebook results in the standard search result portion of the page.
This late stage implementation by Google will, not unlike its revamp of YouTube comments today, favor relevance over timeliness. And by timelessness, I mean the last idiot to use that hashtag or make a comment on a YouTube video. The sidebar will display a “best of” posts rather than a scrolling column of drivel from any monkey/philistine that happens across “Ctrl + 3.”
While self-serving at best, limited at the seams, Google may inadvertently (I jest, they mean it) drive its search users to the yet strange and unknown world that is Google+.
Google is a pioneer, and will be for some time. That said, it’s looking a bit like a self-serving “last person on the bus” sort of company today.