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

Columbia journalism reviewed

I'm honored to have been written up by journalist Lene Bech Sillesen in the Columbia Journalism Review, "Is this the Web's first blog?" Justin Hall's 20-year-old website shows how opportunities in online journalism slowly developed.

not only does Justin's Links map Hall's personal coming-of-age-story, it also illustrates the internet's rapid expansion, and the development of online journalism. Here are some thoughts from Hall, now 40, on what it was like to be an early blogger.

It was a fun conversation - understanding how a new writer today might glean something from my various experiments as they approach the internet. Lene is @LeneBechS on Twitter if you want to keep up with her ongoing explorations.

Infamous Internet raconteur Justin Hall has now blown through two deadlines for his upcoming personal documentary film, with no clear release date in sight. One concerned friend reports that this production is so muddled, "he still doesn't even have a title for this thing."

What we do know is that Hall somehow believes that the internet wants to revisit the material of his rambling personal web site Links.net in video form. But after months of working on this documentary project, the internet has only seen a 6 second preview with no clear path to release.

Originally scheduled for a mid-September debut, the film was postponed with little explanation until early October - a deadline Hall observed with barely an apology for depriving the web of his latest free amateur production. Now some suggest that Hall has bitten off too much to chew - "look, he made a few hacked-together video episodes. Now he wants to command a full 40 minutes? With no writer, no film crew, no editor, no one else at the controls? I am not optimistic -" this associate finished their appraisal by spinning their index finger at their temple.

Meanwhile video reached the web of Hall's September remarks at the XOXO festival in Portland Oregon. His performance earned some praise while others pointed out that speech may be the best he can muster: "I am not sure he's going to do better than XOXO with his current approach [filming alone in his basement]."

They were likely referring to the stilted green screen style that Hall has employed for videos on a range of subjects during his dormant "Justin Hall Show" series. Shaking their head, one friend remarks on the episodes: "we never knew if he was kidding about how bad they were."

With delays mounting and the quality expected to be low, it appears Hall is continuing his long slide into online irrelevance. Decline is nothing new to the veteran web publisher: he peaked in 1995 with 27,000 daily readers and now has barely 250. Is this video a ruse to cover up a lack of poignant personal experience or compelling sex links on his web site?

When reached for comment, Hall asked if we had any Adderall or XJ-13 to spare. When we pointed out those are both prescription drugs in his home state of California, Hall asked us to sign up for his mailing list.

Part of a series of infrequent third person posts; here's a few more:

Web Site Founder Flees Mounting Scandal
Links.net backlash takes toll
Links.net most eligible bachelor award for 2011

XOXO 2014

XOXO is a festival celebrating "independent artists using the Internet to make a living doing what they love." What a lovely niche! I had heard of the event for years, I had watched some of the XOXO talks on YouTube. So I was quite honored when one of the two Andys who organizes it reached out to me - they had found that failure and vulnerability made for good talks and they thought I might share some of what I've learned being vulnerable and sharing my failures on the web.

I said yes I would love to participate in XOXO! I pitched them a screening of my upcoming "20 years of Links.net documentary" but a speech was a better fit. Here's my talk, in this nice video shared by the XOXO folk Justin Hall, Links from the Underground - XOXO Festival (2014):

What's not included in this video is the heartfelt introduction by Andy Baio suggesting that my web pages might have had some kind of influence on him in high school; Andy was sweet to write it up afterwards. After listening to his introduction, by the time I took the stage, I was a bit choked up.

My speech here looks back over 20 years of personal sharing online. XOXO is about as splendid a venue as I could imagine for this content - the event is curated, everyone attending has to explicitly explain something they make (not just sell, or promote, or schedule, but hands-on). So there's a touching lack of irony and the chance to turn to anyone there to ask "what do you make?" with people generally prepared to tell you! It's a much more fun conversation opener than "what do you do?" or "where do you work?"

In the crowd were many godparents of the early web; serious long-term community builders and online experimenters. It was heartening to see them a little grayer, still making things, eyes a-twinkle.

meeting Aaron Peckham - the guy who made Urban Dictionary! Enabling a collective evolving vernacular online, hurrah.

But XOXO wasn't some kind of web geezer fest - there were all manner of innovative new creators in the mix as well. Animators, game designers, storytellers, musicians making new experiences left me in a delicious limbo between the beloved familiar and the tantalizing novel. I came away from XOXO hugely impressed by the momentum they've created to attract folks, friends and strangers that I wanted to be around.

Ilyse and I meeting Asher Vollmer, game designer behind Threes! And now a casual RTS called Close Castles

Inside the XOXO venue, Andy + Andy on stage to kick things off Friday.

Riding a schoolbus between cultural opportunities and hotels

Portland, a city famous for cloudy skies, beamed bright burning sun throughout. Here's some outdoor pleasure on the roof-deck of Panic, an XOXO sponsor.

Playing Close Castles during an evening curation of experimental video games.

DJ Anil Dash descended from Twitter/ThinkUp to drop beats for happy feets.

Ilyse and Tantek work their way through a maze at the Hover-sponsored happy hour at Ground Kontrol, packed with playable arcade games, part of XOXO 2014.

People playing "Marrying Mr. Darcy" - a card game based on Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen during an evening's session of curated board and card games.

Jamie Wilkinson, Casey Pugh and KK Apple prepare to preview The Empire Strikes Back: Uncut as part of the XOXO Film Fest

Darius Kazemi sums up his #1 inspired XOXO 2014 talk "How I Won the Lottery" - not yet posted online, but Darius is active at twitter.com/tinysubversions

There was soul food and brain food and social connection - I was delighted and honored to be a part of XOXO 2014.

I managed to be included in one of Jonathan Mann's daily songs, after I too cried at his XOXO talk featuring his wild and lively grandmother:

Finally, after my talk, after a few drinks, late one evening in a bar I had a chance to answer Daniel Agee's question: What is it you do or make only for yourself?

Kevin Marks took great live notes, and Scott Rosenberg wrote up his multiple years of attendance in "XOXO and the Fierce Urgency of Nice". I didn't get a chance to thank Glenn Fleishman for the wireless setup book he wrote that help me configure my home; he wrote up a longer piece about XOXO 2014 for BoingBoing, "The narrative lottery at XOXO".

Preparing for my speech took a few weeks but nicely overlapped with the work I've been doing to look back at 20 years of online sharing at this here web site. My speech video from XOXO is a tasty appetizer, I hope, for a hot steaming pile of delicious main course film I aim to serve up in the next few weeks! More information about my upcoming documentary currently titled "Links.net: 20 years of Too Much Information" lives here: 20links.vhx.tv.

VHX site launched for personal documentary

Aside from hunting and gathering foodstuffs, I haven't left the house in over a week. I'm up to my ears in video making, for a short personal documentary about 20 years of sharing my life on this web site!

Today I'm pulling my head out of my Final Cut Pro X video editing software, and setting up a VHX page for this 20 Links video:


This will allow me to at least collect emails from prospective viewers, during my final phase of editing. Some day, when this video is done, I plan to release it free online and VHX will allow me to sell people DRM-free copies for as much as they feel like donating. I interviewed one of the VHX founders, Jamie Wilkinson, in 2013; I look forward to experimenting with more forms of crowd-supported online media production.

re DJ

Yesterday a plumbing emergency hindered filming for my documentary (I had a garden fountain of night soil). So between plumber visits, I made a 20 second DJ J-Hole promo video to submit to a local bar with an open call for disk jockeys:

Thanks to Greenhomies giving me the chance to DJ at Camp Baxter this July, so I had something recent to show for myself! July 2014 was my first time live DJing since 1998 at Reboot in Copenhagen. Now I've updated my DJ page: links.net/share/diskjock ahahahaha TODAY BACK TO MY DOCUMENTARY