Digital Studies 101

A common resource for Digital Studies at UMW.

Activism and Agency










These words with #’s in front of them aren’t just collating social media content around specific interests. Instead, these conversations and their participants come to think of these more like an event or social movement. In cases like “#1reasonwhy”, the hashtag becomes a platform for voices that otherwise might not be heard. For #Ferguson, the hashtag becomes a platform for citizen journalism.

In either case, something new seems to be happening around how users leverage different social media platforms to do something that matters. Your job in this module is to learn more about the history of hashtag activism (including any precursors) and think critically about its impact and possible future.


  • Learn about hashtag activism
  • Practice archiving and annotating social media content

Suggest Tasks

  • Learn about the history of citizen journalism on the web, both before and after the rise of social media. Read some commentary and critiques about the general phenomenon or specific campaigns
  • Identity current successful, important, or particularly controversial hashtags
  • Focus on at least one developing hashtag, archive its content (I recommend using TAGS), and produce some annotated record or commentary on the hashtag’s development
  • Use NodeXL to analyze a current hashtag or two, and compare their respective edge graphs

Suggest Readings

Slack Channel: activism