As developers flex their creative muscles, the appification of the Web continues. Plugins, toolbar extensions, and third party apps are big business and in high demand, and a recent Startup Weekend stand out proves as much.
HashTraffic, which debuted at Portland Startup Weekend last month, piqued some attention with its pure simplicity and attempt make the hashtag ubiquitous.
The idea behind HashTraffic is to make hashtags actually interact with the rest of the Web, not keep them trapped inside Twitter. The #-signage would link words and phrases all over the Internet so that you could see various relevant conversations. HashTraffic is the creation of 15-year-old developer Jackson Gariety. “I noticed on Facebook that people were using hashtags even though they don’t work there,” he tells me. “I was kind of baffled by it. It’s kind of become a natural experience on the Web now to use them.”
With that thought, Gariety experimented with HashTraffic to see how the little symbol could be even bigger than it already was. “I wanted to see if I could make [hashtags] even more popular, because they weren’t being utilized anywhere else like they were on Twitter,” Gariety says. “Hashtags are one thing we can utilize super easily because Twitter didn’t really create hashtags – the users did. And Twitter hasn’t capitalized on it that much. They have no ownership of the content of hashtags.”
Prior to Startup Weekend, Gariety and HashTraffic co-founder Brian Hendrickson took their idea to Portland incubator PIE founder Rick Turoczy for feedback. Gariety says he was encouraged to take it to Startup Weekend – which he very nearly forgot to do.
Luckily, he and Hendrickson managed to pull things together for the event, ultimately taking second place and winning “Best Execution.” HashTraffic was second in line to speed pitch during the opening night, where I saw what I assumed was a very confident introduction to HashTraffic from Gariety. But when I asked him if he expected the warm reception HashTraffic has received, he says “not at all.”
“We weren’t even sure if people knew what a hashtag was… we were totally floored by the reaction,” he says.
The HashTraffic development continues, as Gariety and Hendrickson are looking for more PHP developers to join the team. The business plan Startup Weekend founders said what HashTraffic needed was drafted up at one in the morning the night the competition ended.
At the moment, HashTraffic has an embed code as well as a WordPress plugin as the team continues to work on version 1.0. You can also try a couple of examples that are live on the site. Check out the video below for a little more background on HashTraffic.