bud.com at the International Cannabis Business Conference

I spent US Presidents Day 2015 at the International Cannabis Business Conference. I went there to see how http://bud.com might participate in legalization. I didn't intend to make a video, but afterwards enough people were curious about attending a "cannabis business conference" I decided to put together my reflections on this event in video form:

bud.com at the International Cannabis Business Conference

internet video busking

The first person beyond my college visited this here personal web site 21 years ago, on 23 January 1994. Thanks for coming by!

To celebrate, my latest video is posted behind a paywall! That's right, if you want to watch 8 minutes of my mundane reflections, prepare to commit your personal resources to support my future media productions. Or wait for a little while until I post the vid free. Because in the end human content eventually becomes free or it goes away.

If this was a major life event, like divorce or commercial failure, I might have immediately released the finished documentation free. Instead, this is a story about having my wallet stolen, which is maybe like being mugged at gunpoint but not nearly as challenging, and video instead of text, but not nearly so intense as an attempt to start a sex church.

stolen wallet, mystery bag:

(YouTube Link)

The first glimpse of this "stolen wallet, mystery bag" moving picture went to people who shine the light of their hearts and treasures on my creations. But if your funds are tight, fret not, this particular less-controversial, less-impactful, less-produced personal media object shall soon be was hurled free onto a public web that shall remain floating near your eyes as long as I can keep the lights on!!

internet video busking

16 January I passed $200 in funds supporting each episode of the Justin Hall Show on Patreon. Holy smokes! It's been 8 months since I published an episode so I'm feeling especially honored that people would still think their money might someday support something. Since May 2014, without promotion or publishing content, the Justin Hall show gained an average of 2 new patrons a month and went up $29 in per-video pledges. Gracias amigos!!!

Mahdi Bahrami took me to $200; that made my smile extra-wide. His video game demo made me wet in the eyes, and I had fun interviewing him at the Game Developers Conference in 2014. So I was cheered that he had somehow tracked me down and decided to support my videos.

Community financial support for my personal video work validates some of my early excitement around "publishing empowerment". Now people surfing the media streams tie their attention and wallets to my teeth! These mounting pledges nudge me to live up to the hope that each dollar represents: the hope that we'll share another media moment.

I wondered, is this particular video too informal for my audience? Too long? Too mundane? This "stolen wallet, mystery bag" video is more casual than the films I produced in 2014. I recorded it in one take, on short notice with my hair miskempt. As I work to address two issues in my links.net documentary and polish that giant pile of excitement, I enjoy having a chance to get loose with the video medium. Hopefully it might amuse or gently provoke some folks across the web.

To get some perspective, I dropped in on personal video-maker Jenna Marbles. Her videos feature far fewer graphics and effects than mine, maybe a few more stunts, a lot more cute animals. But at the core, she strikes one as direct, unafraid and it's somehow comforting to watch her think out loud. I admire her accessible, self-deprecating fun and authentic momentum. I watched her 200th video which offered some insight into her feelings after the last four years riding a rocketship of popularity.

Then I went to watch her latest video, and it turned out to be a fan request from her Facebook group: JennaMarbles read aloud a selection of her hate mail from across the internet. These included some sad words and some upsetting suggestions; by the end she seemed a bit frayed around the edges.

Jenna Marbles is one of the most popular personal media makers on the internet, and I could see the positive and negative aspects of her prominent position from those two vids linked above. Every few months I start thinking, oh, I should get some comments and community going again on Links.net! But personal content + open comments = eventual tide of immense psychic challenge, and I'm not ready for that just now.

These are some of the themes I'm exploring in 20links.vhx.tv - my links.net documentary due free on the web later this year. It's taking me a good while to figure out how I feel about the rise of social networks after the advent of personal weblogging, let alone articulate that feeling!

cutting a tree to the stump

I'm told the prior resident here snuck over a fence behind this Mission district house into a garden attached to an auto body shop. He planted a black acacia tree there decades ago. When the tree became an overgrowing arboreal menace, it was chopped to a stump. He the planter prayed and meditated hard that day. The stump was ignored and over the ensuing years, the tree grew back without supervision: as seven trunks, a huge canopy three stories tall, visible from San Francisco's hills and sheltering the spaces below which bustled with hawks and rats.

As more people packed around it, the tree was deemed too large: roots were lifting a neighbor's concrete; limbs or whole trunks might have broken off to commit rooficide.

I loved looking out our back window and seeing branches and leaves. Now, a year and a half after I first moved a chair to where I could sit and see that tree, three days of chainsawing by a man on ropes reduced it to a stump once more. Younger men covered the wood wound in mulch and left it.

Ilyse and I wondered if tree-bound meditation and prayer should once again be deployed, touching upon the spiritual side of the otherwise secular Arbor Day, which appears in 40+ countries. Perhaps we'd pray for forgetfulness from our neighbors, so the stump might re-re-grow. And, we'd likely raise our voices amidst the many in this part of the world praying for water.

But instead of bringing rain, our water prayers could cause sea levels to rise to our front steps. And instead of summoning leaves outside our window, this tree could continue to invade our lives. Fed by our prayers and meditation, this tree could soon drive us from this warm box. Seems easy to cut and hard to know. But out my window I do prefer branches and leaves to the rump end of a storehouse.

planting bud.com

I've spent this last week barely leaving my house, listening to a fun frenetic musician called "Shitmat" and building a new site at http://bud.com/

After twenty years of owning this domain, it seems the time is ripening to make something useful out of it. I'm asked weekly if I will sell it, and maybe I would for an eye-popping amount of money. But I'd rather make something great with it. Making one-person videos is hugely fun, now I have room in my life for other, more collaborative work.

I've spent the last few months exploring ideas that would be good to build on bud.com. Uber for weed? Pot-friendly friend finder? CraigsList for Cannabusiness? I began to realize I might not be able to make the best use of bud.com with any single idea I have; instead I might do better to enable other folks to grow their bud.com ideas. If I can help other people be successful @bud.com then attention and money will follow, enough for everyone who can contribute work to make the domain great.

So I've spent the last few months reading about cannabis and writing down the core values that should direct and drive bud.com in the years to come. They're all posted on the site, along with a call to action and a few initial projects. Thanks to 19 year old Justin Hall who registered this domain so 40 year old Justin Hall can spend time working on it!

bud dot com dot png

40th update, and do you remember this site?

I turned 40 and missed my end of 2014 deadline for my film. What am I doing with my life?

Using type I could describe of my thoughts and feelings, but let's be more oral than literate. Yesterday I filmed myself for five minutes, committed edit and post a video in a day. Here's a moving picture update on my life:

If you visited this site before 1999 and you have some memory of the site in the context of the web at that time, I might want to interview you / video you / ask you to appear as a talking head in my upcoming video. Please lemme know if that's something you might share: justin@links.net. Thanks!

more details here:

I've been friends with this writer, editor, teacher Howard Rheingold for over 20 years now. A year or so ago, Howard suggested I come give a talk about my experiences sharing my life on the web to a class he was teaching at a local university. Afterwards, he suggested that if I could make a short film with that story, it would be useful for other professors teaching about the history of digital media.

This fall, I helped edit a video with Howard about his Alchemagical Lucid Dream Box

So in May 2014, I put aside The Justin Hall show and focused full time on a documentary. I thought it would take 3-4 months, and I would aim for 20 minutes. Now, seven months later, I'm not finished with the film and it's about 40 minutes long.

I think my film is a decent piece of work; my friends have told me it has some strengths. There are two key weaknesses I've identified today:

1. I retreated from deeply personal online sharing in January 2005, just as social networks were beginning to take off. What did I learn and how do I see online sharing today? I've touched on this in my film, and in this recent interview with Innovation Hub from WGBH, but folks I respect want a deeper articulation. I think I need to summon some unscripted anguish, because I don't have an easy answer but I want to speak to the convergence of freedom, technology and community. With brevity.

Justin Hall 20 years of blogging

2. Why was "Justin's Links" notable? Why should anyone care about this old web site and this guy talking at them?? It's a strange thing to make an autobiographical film without working hard to prove my own worth: I've hewn towards telling my story, my experience, more than ranking myself externally. But the film needs some of that context, what was interesting about my site?, in order to have some long term prospects. Between the links of my life and the links of the web was Justin's Links from the Underground and @#$!@$! was worthwhile about that in the mid-1990s??

If you visited this site before 1999 and you have some memory of the site in the context of the web at that time, I might want to interview you / video you / ask you to appear as a talking head in my video. Please lemme know if that's something you might share: justin@bud.com

I turned 40 on Tuesday 16 December. I said I wanted to finish this film by that time, so I could shift to other projects including exploring the potential for bud.com to promote health, justice and good feelings. But this film has gotten good enough that I can't release it yet. I'm fighting my own impatience to make this worth inflicting on folks curious about the early web, decades from now. And maybe you can help me out! Thanks for your attention :-) the film will end up here and on 20links.vhx.tx.

a conclusion; the end is nigh

Yesterday afternoon my girlfriend Ilyse was running late for a doctor's appointment. She sat with me in the bottom floor of our house, an iPad in her lap, reading over a script for a video. Her mobile phone was strapped on a tripod, pointed at my entire body, along with two other cameras.

I didn't dare believe it at the time, but it looks like yesterday was the final day of formal shooting for my personal documentary project. I'll have a few lines or moments to reshoot, pickups - nothing I can't pull off myself in the days or weeks ahead. Yesterday broke through - I wrapped up the story I've been telling myself for six months. A final filmed conclusion! It was my third or fourth draft of "what is the result of all this web sharing I done?" and after I spliced my takes together last night, I felt a weight lifting. I felt the story entirely in my hands for a moment again - reminding me of the uninformed optimism that convinced me to make a personal documentary in just a few weeks starting in the spring this year.

A few weeks turned into a few months turned into most of a year. My deadline was mid-September for XOXO; now I'm glad to have wrapped principle photography before the deadline for the Iranian-US nuclear negotiations this Monday November 24. My 40th birthday comes in less than a month; how about I finish my edits before then? That would be a nice present Mr. Hall.

Blood kin have requested a screening in Chicago this Thanksgiving holiday next week. So I'll receive some family feedback on whatever draft I deliver in a few days. The time elapsed on this project, and the work I've done revising it after friends viewing thus far, has me feeling like my spine is steel - I won't need much-less-want to change much. Fingers and legs crossed.

Ilyse was a bit late for her doctor's appointment. Her full-body phone footage enables some of the most fun edits in the film: shots where I'm standing in the scene, a part of the illustration for whatever I'm speaking. I've learned an enormous amount working on this project; soon I look forward to sharing it with you.

OMG I just remembered that I still don't have a title. Ahahahahaha