By Philip Elmer-DeWitt
November 21, 2009

The man behind #swineflu and #HowBlackAreYou was the hit at this year’s NYC webfest

This has nothing in particular to do with Apple (AAPL), but it’s very 2.0.

We spent much of last week at a conference in New York City called Web 2.0 Expo — a celebration of the “next generation Web” where one of the centers of attention was the giant Twitter screen set directly behind the keynote speakers that showed what the audience was tweeting about whomever was onstage.

The speakers included a typical mix of Web celebrities, including O’Reilly Media’s Tim O’Reilly, Digg’s Kevin Rose and Jay Adelson, author Douglas Rushkoff, Flikr co-founder Caterina Fake and White House chief technology officer Beth Noveck.

But the hit of the conference — judging from the laughter, the applause and the tweets — was Baratunde Thurston, Web & Politics editor at The Onion.

His talk was entitled “There’s a #Hashtag for That” and I’ve discovered that it’s a kind of Twitter touchstone. The audience at the Javits Center thought it was knee-slapping hilarious. People who don’t quite get what Twitter is for — like my wife — are even more mystified than they were before they watched it.

The video is posted below. We’d love to hear what you think.

Thurston tweets as @baratunde. The hashtag for Web 2.0 Expo is #w2e.

[Follow Philip Elmer-DeWitt on Twitter @philiped]

You May Like