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2016 Archives

Thanksgiving 2016

Here's my Thanksgiving grace for 2016; an attempt to reconcile a recent dramatic showdown of two political cultures in the United States:

We are here now together
sitting at a flat surface
perched atop a round earth

it sounds precarious
in the abstract
but these hands feel solid

sometimes its nice to gather someplace flat
since it's not easy to see
and hear each other
on a far distant face of a sphere

for thousands of years
the grinding clash of human civilizations has spelled
a bounty for some, diminishment for others

somehow we here have emerged with autonomy

we join
people all over our northern hemisphere
around this time
celebrating harvest
in our own ways

let's each bring something
to this table
a vision for what we can honor and celebrate
in this changing world

today we practice gratitude.
gratitude for
this precious water drop hanging in space
the dead trees holding up our butts and our plates
the fowl beasts and flora that feed us today
and the people who enacted this whole situation

We don't always see who made
any of this possible;
most of them are dead before us

Our choices for our land and society
leave open fields or dark alleys for future folks
like blessed little Delia and beyond

how can we honor the passed away
and the unborn?
how can we give thanks in a complex world?

today we shall hold hands for a moment
take a breath
and practice a balancing of the flat on the round



Your leaders have no firm knowledge of the future.
What do they know?
They are probably men, they are probably older than you,
and they may know business.
What is business?
Buying what you need and selling what you can.

How do you succeed in business?
I don't know.
Nothing is successful forever.
But humans like novelty.
And many humans like other humans.

Let's put our business
in service of humans.
What does that mean?
I'm not sure.
You can ask your leaders.

You could also make up an idea for yourself
and use your job at Digital Garage
to experiment with your idea
for business in service of humans.

Thank you for experimenting with me.

My wife and I just had daughter in good health. I am so grateful. It's a magical time of transition; we're taking on responsibility and I'm feeling my humanity shift to orient around this tiny person.

We opted-in for local parent education and community. So my life is a more cloistered world of swaddling and breastmilk and clusters of mindblown new parents rocking infants. Barely two months in, we haven't yet begun worrying about childcare and schooling in earnest.

Meanwhile through my magic phone I learn the world beyond our home seems aflame. Brexit, ISIS, the South China Sea. Trump and Black Lives Matter.

What can I contribute to soothe & heal our world? A nicely woke white woman?

My Facebook feed is filled with well-meaning thoroughly educated white people doing penance over their privilege and looking to assert that they believe that black people should not be killed by police. Meanwhile I have a cop friend, who happens to be black, who decries the violence that happens within black communities without any police involvement. It's all a sad testament to the legacy of human slavery in America.

In the 1970s & 80s I grew up in Chicago in a nice house near the Cabrini Green housing projects. Today I own a small home in the Southeastern part of San Francisco somewhat near the Bayview-Hunter's Point. Historically these neighborhoods hosted black Americans who were pushed out of other parts of San Francisco; as writer James Baldwin said in 1963 "this is the San Francisco America pretends does not exist."

What connection to I have to my black neighbors today? We ride some of the same buses around the city. But my birth circumstances otherwise keep me in a largely white and Asian world, swollen with the potential of technology to change lives and empower dream$.

Reading Ta-Nehisi Coates' deep article "The Case for Reparations" in 2014 reminded me how black people in America have been systemically denied a chance to participate in prosperity. And now America continues to reel from the sustained pain inflicted by this kind of injustice. I wonder how our country can bring about more equal access to peace and power?

In June 2014, a friend Mamie Rheingold hosted a meet-n-greet for a local politician named Stevon Cook, a first time candidate for San Francisco school board. Rheingold met Cook years before at a philosophy summer school session for high school students at Stanford University and she was impressed by his ambition and perseverance.

Amidst a small audience of Rheingold's friends and family I learned that Stevon Cook was born and raised in public housing in the Bayview-Hunters Point. His parents wrestled with addiction and he was raised by his grandmother. Cook worked hard at his public high school and attended a private liberal arts college. This experience turned him on to the value of education; when Cook finished college he came back to San Francisco and he decided to run for school board in 2014 - the youngest candidate at 28 years old.

Cook lost the election that year by less than 1%; now he's running again in 2016.

Much of politics is a popularity contest; loosely based on ideas - except that most people in San Francisco don't pay attention to the school board election. The most likely path to victory for Cook is to win an endorsement from the SF Democratic County Central Committee, so the legions of democrats in this city might dutifully check check his box when they go to vote in November.

I sat down for an interview with Stevon Cook in February; months before my child was born, when fatherhood seemed more like a looming deadline than a consciousness shift. I sat down to interview Stevon Cook because I want to extend my network to include a wider range of folks around shared values: the importance of education, community-building and increasing access to tools.

I sat down to interview Stevon Cook because I am curious about how a native black American San Franciscan is working to climb up in the ranks of the enfranchised change makers in this city.

Now that I have a daughter in San Francisco, I want to know that she can attend a quality public school here in a few years time. And I want to know that she can choose to live in a fair, free, and fabulous America. So the stakes are growing higher for me.

So please meet Stevon Cook. He's working as CEO of Mission Bit, a non profit teaching coding skills to low income students of color in SF public schools. And Stevon Cook is running for San Francisco school board in San Francisco in November, 2016.

Here is a July 2016 edit of a February 2016 interview with Stevon Cook for the Justin Hall Show:

YouTube: an interview with Stevon Cook, CEO and candidate for SF School Board

Facebook: an interview with Stevon Cook, CEO and candidate for SF School Board

Note: this essay was also posted to

"The Ethical Artist" interview

Working creatively! Being independent! How could you have that kind of career? I'm not sure exactly, but I've been fortunate. Maybe there's some inspiration for you in the path of my time publishing online.

Storyteller Daedalus Howell interviewed me along those lines: 004: The Ethical Artist - Justin Hall Tells All, Mostly. This is part of The Culture Department, a podcast that helps creatives become entrepreneurs.

I punched a car :-/

I punched a car unsure emoticon then came home and recorded a video, as the camera's handheld POV gradually drifted down my face.

I punched a car :-/ on YouTube

I punched a car :-/ on Facebook

I have a part time job as Community Manager of DG717, the San Francisco office of a Japanese internet investment firm and incubator. I was offered the chance to offer to encouraging words to the new crop of mostly fresh college grad employees at the mothership by videolink SF to Tokyo. Here's what I shared with them: mostly English but I performed most of the middle section about my career in Japanese:



You are new to this company.

Maybe you are new to business and to capitalism.

I can tell you: your future is failure and death.

It is the same for everyone.

I will probably die before you.

But before we die, we may make magic.

We can make magic with these people; we can all make magic together.

Before Digital Garage, I was a journalist. I lived in Japan and I wrote about keitai culture.

Maybe articles are boring. Making software is more interesting.

So I started an internet game company. I married my business partner. I was CEO and husband, I felt powerful.

Then the company failed and my marriage failed. I felt weak.

I want you to know that I have failed. This is part of my story.

I hope you have failure in your future, so you can recognize success.

I hope you know death so you can know life.

Digital Garage is a dream.

Digital Garage is not a Japanese company.

Digital Garage is not a global company.

Digital Garage is your company.

We are in your dream company together.

Thank you for dreaming with me。

Playing Games with Patrick Ewing

In February 2016 Patrick Ewing came to my home studio to discuss his work on FireWatch, a popular new video game. I became interested in Patrick after I'd heard he shifted from web coding to game-making. I discovered he hosts, a web site he packed with intensely personal details. This episode of the Justin Hall Show explores the identity of this Patrick Ewing!

Facebook: Playing Games with Patrick Ewing

Playing Games with Patrick Ewing

Posted by Justin's Links on Wednesday, March 23, 2016

For this video I played slightly more with our figures cut out from the green screen. Frankly not enough play; each time I film I learn more about what angles I want. In this case I would like to figure out how to get more straight on with Patrick. Here's his picture of all the camera angles:

How @justinreach shoots his one-man TV show

A photo posted by Patrick Ewing (@hoverbird) on

Turns out Patrick had his own green screen show in high school around 1999. The Bob Sargascar Show: Episode 1 is on Vimeo: "An introduction to the cast and crew, a medical autopsy, an endeavor to construct a Time Machine device, the loss of beloved pets and sad song of Laika the Space Dog" in 29 minutes."

So thanks to Bob Sargascar, I had Patrick Ewing as a green-screened character, and Patrick Ewing cut out from the background on a sports video game fan site. Fun moving pieces for the moving pictures.

Patrick discusses a game called Cart Life. The creator of the game released it open-source, but his web site is offline. The creator, Richard Hofmeier is on Twitter. Wikipedia has a nice page about Cart Life. If you root around online you might be able to find a version to play.

Patrick worked with Campo Santo as a Tools & Gameplay Programmer on Firewatch, the game that Patrick worked on with Campo Santo: you can learn about the game Firewatch on Wikipedia.

The music: "World of Sport" by The Gasman from his album Archive including 200 deep cuts. "L.A. Montage" by Rockit Maxx off Free Music Archive. hosts some Les Brown. Chris Remo composed the piece used from the Firewatch soundtrack, and Pocketmaster recorded the track used in the Cart Life sound track - here slowed to 67%.

YouTube: Playing Games with Patrick Ewing

Patreon Post.

Patrick is @hoverbird on Twitter.

le parfum de l'homme

a new video: "le parfum de l'homme"

Patreon: "le parfum de l'homme"
Facebook: "le parfum de l'homme"

le parfum de l'homme

More information: the soundtrack is "EmptyBottleStar" by Blevin Blectum, off her album Gular Flutter, slowed down to 50% speed.

Posted by Justin's Links on Tuesday, March 8, 2016

YouTube: "le parfum de l'homme"

Saturday March 5 I read this harshly-named article "Why are celebrity perfume commercials so incredibly awful?" in an elaborate hotel room. The room provided a psychographic space akin to a Peter Greenaway set. The result of these factors is this video. The soundtrack is "EmptyBottleStar" by Blevin Blectum, off her album Gular Flutter, slowed down to 50% speed.

Stay tuned for future episodes of the Justin Hall show!

Televangelist streak, for the Internet Archive

I've occasionally served as a sort of evangelist. Getting revved up in front of people, weighing the connection potential in the moment and aiming quickly for maximum.

It helps to have something to rave about. I haven't yet found the book of a true god to wave around. There's no living or dead mortal I would recommend for everything.

Instead have raved about the potential for us to use our fabulous tools to better know each other. One incarnation is the Internet Archive. When they invited me to participate in their first-ever Internet Archive Telethon, I was honored for the chance to do right by this bulging bargain bin of human creation.

20 December 2015 I showed up before 6am, over 18 hours deep into the proceedings. Michelle Krasowski, an expert archivist and eccentric, offered to first screen my film overshare before our conversation. I suggested we should instead aim for the live. Michelle and I then commenced to discourse on the virtues of this digital library and our potential to educate the young artificial intelligences of tomorrow through our contributions today. For a moment, I imagined a perfect perpetual permalink.

It was a fun ramble, followed by an archivist dance party. All of it broadcast live to 54 people, and then video footage was posted on the Internet Archive in a Telethon wrap up post.

I decided to edit down the whole telethon into just our conversation:

YouTube and Facebook and The Internet Archive and Patreon.

Whilst fast-forwarding through the footage, I noticed home many times I was extolling the virtues of the Internet Archive, like I was daring myself to speak even more convincingly of its critical role in our shared human literacy. It was a good time, for what I felt was a good cause - donations to the Internet Archive. Fun to exercise my televangelist muscles! Next year maybe I can read aloud from Ecclesiastes.

Two Many Gmail Accounts? A Chrome Tip

tl;dr: new video explains a useful way to manage multiple Gmail accounts in Google Chrome:

YouTube: "Two Many Gmail Accounts? A Chrome Tip"


I got my first job in 1988 at 14 years old. I sold computer software at a retail software store in the basement of a bookstore called "Software Etc." Soon customers began hiring me to install software for them, at about 7x my hourly wage ($3.91 an hour, versus $20 an hour). My fondness for computers lead me to a lifetime of translating technology to other people.

Ten years later, I was an on-air TV host explaining the web with ZDTV's "Call for Help" with Leo Laporte:

That web explaining TV gig didn't last long, and I don't do much computer consulting these days. But I still get a deep thrill from helping people use these tools.

Recently I realized that many of my friends have multiple Gmail accounts, like I do. And I realized they mostly used Google Chrome, like I do. And many of them were signing out from one Gmail account each time they wanted to sign into their other Gmail! Or frequently using Incognito windows on their own personal computers. That isn't necessary - as it turns out, the Google Chromemakers have fashioned a useful system of "user profiles" and here's a short video that explains how it might be useful to you:

This kind of technology suggestion video is not a timeless truth - someday like Netscape, and Microsoft, Google will no longer dominate our online lives. But for now, if it does, you might find this tip useful. And then this will be a time capsule to 2016 browsing & online identity history. Perhaps I accentuated the rate of decay on this video by filming in 640x480 using a 2003 iSight web camera. Shooting a tech tip, in my glasses, at my desk, using an old webcam, felt like a nice change of pace from my typical greenscreen productions! Produced with the now-typical level of subtitle saturation (thorough).

email I get these days

I have a 22 year old web site. People email me sometimes about it. I often get emails from people offering me content! A sign of the full blossoming of online attention commerce:

"I am part of the team at XYZ, a site focused on [happiness / love / relationships / standing desks / startups / mobile apps / video games / sexual disfunction drugs]. I came across your site and really liked it! You have some great content, and I think there's a big opportunity here for us to grow our audiences together."

In spite of the rote quality of many of these inquiries, I prefer to take this interaction at face value, and treat these folks like potential collaborators:

"Let's make content together! Based on the overall theme of, maybe you could write content about my life for me?"

I haven't yet gotten anyone to take me up on my offer :-/ I'm curious what someone else might do with this source material!

Today I got a more nuanced email I'd like to share: "Just came across you"

Hi, I'm just a girl who was looking up A.C. Shoulder separation and stumbled across your article about your shoulder surgery. Which led me to your bio, and I watched your full video on your life. I found it so interesting and inspiring. I'm nothing like you, in terms of knowing so much about computers, I'm sure that really was a catalyst for your interesting life. Anyways I'll keep it short. Thanks for sharing yourself and your life. Thanks for your thoughts and ideas on protecting people from big businesses that want to control us all. Very exciting to see such passion. Have a great day!

Your fan,

I'm not sure I'm the best protector from big businesses that want to control us all - I'm a bit of a tech booster, and social technology is a gateway drug to participation in 21st century global capitalism. But I am someone who shares all kinds of stories hoping they might be useful to someone and so I was chuffed to have successfully captured this person's attention, and maybe to have left them happier at the end.

Celebrating New Year's Eve in Tokyo

Japanese people tend to celebrate New Year's Eve quietly with friends and family. That leaves a few large public gatherings. This short video explores four activities in Tokyo on New Year's Eve: visiting the Meiji shrine (before the crowds), parading as a fox to the Oji Inari Shrine, visiting Tokyo Disneyland overnight, and joining a probably illegal dance party in the streets of Shibuya.

Celebrating New Year's Eve in Tokyo on YouTube

Facebook: Celebrating New Year's Eve in Tokyo

This latest episode of the Justin Hall Show employs conventions of Japanese television to celebrate New Year's Eve in Tokyo. Japanese television often features ワイプ - waipu - picture in picture of people's faces, reacting the content on screen. Sort of like a facial laugh track. Here's a picture-in-picture that inspired me during this production:

I attempted using waipu in two places, both where I refer to myself, breaking the new year's narrative. I don't think I do enough with my friends' fun faces in this video; I certainly didn't make anything as madcap as the giraffe situation above.

You may also notice that much Japanese television is not afraid of text. Loads of text onscreen, with glowing, outlined letters. This helped me further unleash fonts, building on the AJ+ inspired video experiment from last month: pee shy. Film forecast says more text in videos to come.

Annotating video feels important in 2016, especially for bringing along mobile viewers. Attempting both Japanese and English subtitles slowed me down but helped me practice my Japanese language skills. Having to transcribe the story lengthens the production time, but forces me to continuously re-evaluate what is worth communicating.


🎵 Viva La Fiesta by The Mugris
🎵 Quentin by Strong Suit
🎵 In the Fallout Shelter on Typewriters Dreaming Bounding Toward the Snowy Horizon by The Fucked Up Beat
🎵 The Fish by The Fish Who Saved the Planet

🎨 mount Fuji under the moon by artnaturefootage
🎨 Mt_fuji(R469_Yuno)
🎨 Chinese Zodiac Wheel: 20100720_Fukuoka_Kushida_3614_M by Jakub Hałun
🎨 Tokyo-Misty City by darwinfish105
🎨 Carousel from Kawaii Monster Cafe
🎨 渋谷駅前のスクランブル交差点(微速度撮影) - Shibuya Crossing Timelapse by Masahiro Hayata

ワイプタレント: Lauren Gucik, Booth Haley
ありがおう: Ilyse Magy

the Justin Hall Show

Released under a Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike License

this site's aging continues

22 years ago TODAY the first people outside of my college logged in to check out this web site. So, happy birthday, of sorts, to this inanimate object! I'm glad I'm still able to tweak and poke and expand what's on offer here. Thanks for stopping by!


Thanks Steve Rhodes - from @tigerbeat on Instagram
June 2012 dancing in the streets of San Francisco with Ilyse Magy, photo thanks Steve Rhodes on instagram!

Hi, I'm Justin Hall and this here is a personal web site I've used to chronicle my time on earth since 1994. The content on the front page is relatively recent; if you search through the archives, you'll find old pieces of Justin. Some folks have indexed my doings on Wikipedia.

Twitter: jah
Facebook: Justinreach

eBooks by Justin Hall

I've published books for sale, somewhere else online! Behold:

Now available for the Kindle: A Story of GameLayers. My experience being CEO of a tech company, 2007-2009:

"A tell-all story of a startup from the very beginning, with lots of info about real-world fundraising. A more intimate look than you'll find in other business reads." says Irene Polnyi in a 5-star review on

A Story of GameLayers, for the Amazon Kindle.