Justin Hall's personal site growing & breaking down since 1994

watch overshare: the links.net story contact me

commentson 11 May 2004 : 01:05, seth death, master of the end-blown flute [recommends the site linked by this text but does not represent himself as the author and often types as many characters as possible to see if a limit has been imposed on a text field, and, if so, what that limit might be. this text field appears to be without limit. god bless america.] sez:

LA? WTF? you gave me what i thought was $4 for the mango sticky rice, but it turned out to be like, $18 or something. sucker! that's what i was calling you about the next day. i knew your personal life was a hoax. anyway, i'm confused by the new bud.com, which is what brought me here. good luck in LA, don't drink the water, watch out for barbie clones.

commentson 11 May 2004 : 01:23, robin sez:

Justin, you are a peach.

See you in LA.

commentson 11 May 2004 : 05:51, Sebastian Hassinger sez:

...or maybe - you have to drop the "Justin" persona so that you can reappear as your true self on May 16, the 20th anniversary of Andy Kaufman's "death!!!"

commentson 11 May 2004 : 06:08, Shawn sez:

Yes, But didn't Justin also say he was going to go to L.A. on Sunday, but yet is only leaving today? Whats that all about. Another fabrication?

commentson 11 May 2004 : 08:27, C(h)ristine sez:

Justin, you're hilarious! I love it!

Your sense of humor and ever-lasting resilience is awesome.

commentson 11 May 2004 : 08:30, C(h)ristine sez:

p.s. best of luck to you in L.A.!

I grew up there myself -- very different from here, but lots of people like my own brother love it there!

commentson 11 May 2004 : 08:46, le sez:

awesome! as if someone with that much sagittarius could lie. exagerrate, yes. lie, no way.

commentson 11 May 2004 : 09:46, Liz sez:

I'm calling for someone's resignation. I'm not sure who, but heads are going to roll! If I weren’t already unemployed *I* would resign! Forget Rumsfeld and the Iraqi mess, I demand the House and Congress get to the bottom of this blog scandal. Subpoena witnesses, real estate agents, fast food workers, even postal workers, I want times, dates, cheeseburger wrappers. As a blogger myself, we must demand the standards of daily blogging be upheld if not for ourselves, then for the children.

commentson 11 May 2004 : 10:21, J.Scott Barnard sez:

This is an outrage. I once spilled a diet coke on my keyboard, er, well it spewed out my nose 'cause I was laughing so hard about something Justin wrote. But now I know it was all a lie. A terrible lie. I suppose Justin's memoir will come out soon. "Shattered Links!" or perhaps "Burning Down My Master's Server!"...

Oh the huge manatee.

commentson 11 May 2004 : 10:25, James sez:

Justin, that is hilarious.

I want to make sure you understand that my suggestion of possible "artifice" was not meant as a criticism of you. Some famous person (was it Frank Lloyd Wright?) said "The truth is more important than the facts." In my view, sometimes artifice is necessary to tell the truth.

commentson 11 May 2004 : 11:35, Timmybear sez:

Doesn't Justin know that at In-n-Out, you can get free refills on all size drinks? There's no reason to buy a large size unless you're doing it at the drive-through window. You can buy a small for a lot less, and get all the free refills you want. I thought he knew the tricks of the road.
Also, I didn't think the latest post was all that funny, except to his little in-crowd. There are a lot of unanswered questions, still, about the timeline of the things he's posted.

commentson 11 May 2004 : 15:50, Liz sez:

Justin, considering I am, shall we say, "between jobs", right now, I feel I have the time to come aboard as your legal representation during these outrageous acusations. I hope you haven't called Mark Geragos yet?

*Just keep quiet Justin, I'll handle this.*

commentson 11 May 2004 : 16:33, Michael Shumake sez:

I find this rather amusing. First of all, I for one have never seen any posts about everything on links.net to be factual information. Second, I don't know how anyone can read links.net and believe anything Justin has written about his life on this site is in fact true. Third, I don't understand why anyone would care if the information contained in this site is true or not.

If I did not know Justin in real life, I would think every word was bullshit. Why should you believe anything you have ever read unless you are the writer? Why should you even believe what you yourself have written? Nothing is as simple as you would like it to be, the only thing we can trust is that we know nothing at all.

commentson 11 May 2004 : 17:37, Michelle sez:

Wow, talk about throwing things into a tizzy. How do we know his name is Justin even? How far back does this scandal go?



commentson 11 May 2004 : 19:10, modesty verve sez:

welcome to l.a., boy-o. obviously you're going to fit in just fine here at usc. i admit that we weren't sure until we saw that ace photo....

commentson 11 May 2004 : 23:42, checker sez:

My favorite part is the reflection in the car door of the camera taking the picture auto sitting on the neighboring car's hood. I can't decide if I want that to have been an accident or not...


commentson 12 May 2004 : 09:01, howard sez:

I'm dang proud that you've finally learned the difference between "truth" and "non-fiction."

commentson 12 May 2004 : 09:16, osm./ sez:

OK. Little rich boy still sucking off mommy's tit gets a special invite to USC. He befriends native negros, yet takes their place at school.

Yeah, he's a piece of work, but to claim he's fictionalizing his life is nuts.

He has the money, the time, and the energy to document his life. Granted, he' still sucking on the silver spoon he was born with, and is the epitomy of the "cultural elite", but little rich boy has never outright lied.

He just suffers from delusions of granduer. The guy's doctor could write a textbook based on his disorders. but lying is not one of them.

commentson 12 May 2004 : 11:09, Don Wrege sez:

I'm convinced Justin hasn't fabricated his life as told on the Web.

However, all that stuff about girls? THOSE stories are totally made up.

commentson 12 May 2004 : 11:10, osm./ is kinda right sez:

how come you never mention that you are kinda well-off?

commentson 12 May 2004 : 13:20, eric gradman sez:

Ah, Kettleman city. How many In'N'Out burgers have I scarfed there...

Justin, welcome to LA. There's plenty of weird here; help us make more and drive out the moviestars.

commentson 12 May 2004 : 16:21, tomatoes sez:

Absolutely laugh out loud hysterical. Much appreciated from over here in yet another ivory tower...
thanks for making this evening of my own imaginary life more enjoyable.

commentson 12 May 2004 : 16:46, "Damanda" sez:

Welcome to the snakepit!

commentson 12 May 2004 : 18:27, Rudy sez:

Where is the blog paparazzi in all this? The tell-all, compromizing photos, and the investigative camera crew raid?

The public is frothy rabid for "the juice".

commentson 12 May 2004 : 18:30, Liz sez:

osm./, I'm actually interested in the topic of the wealthy. I have a friend who comes from wealth and has never worked (She has a PHD). She recently picked (Literally 1 weeks time) up a man from another country and brought him here. He has nothing except a drinking problem, two children (The mothers of whom he never married) and no education. She is currently polishing this prince determined, to the point of brushing off friends, to turn Romeo into something suitable. When I was sitting at a job I hated, I envied her ability to roam about all day keeping up her nails, hair and shopping (Not that that’s what I would have done, but the freedom was attractive). Now that I have seen her lapse into this fantasy world, I thank my working class bippy, that I know the value of needing to earn my own living. Money fixes some problems but it brings about a whole new unique set.

Interesting too, is that some people hate the rich, as much as some hate the poor. Hmmm

commentson 12 May 2004 : 19:58, wayne sez:

it's strange that this anonymous poster does not respect justin very much, yet spends his/her time to keep up with the site and post nasty comments. do you watch "lost in translation" and bitch to your boy/girlfriend about how sofia copppola is a spoiled rich girl? aren't there blogs written by people whose parents make less than your acceptable income?

do you really care whether he "deserves" to be in grad school enough to discuss his mother's tit and damn him as being mentally ill? did posting this anonymous comment make you feel better or chuckle? did you reload the page a few times after lunch to see if he would respond? hopefully reading and posting here doesn't take too much time away from whatever thing you do that makes the world a better place.

commentson 12 May 2004 : 20:18, C(h)ristine sez:

Ooh. The comments took an unncessary mean turn here!

Anyway -- wouldn't it be funny if this entry were Justin's last entry EVER? It would be the greatest cliffhanger of all blog-time!

(Please Justin, don't let it be your last blog entry -- I hope we're not scaring you away!).

commentson 12 May 2004 : 20:33, bill poncette sez:

Weirdly, this thread--along with the one following Writer with Drinks--has been pretty good to read, all those "welcome to LA" and other Justinhead bs notwithstanding. I'm sorry Stan's off--I kindof liked that rant of his sticking up for truth, and going on about the banal bloggers.

I hadn't read Links before I got directed to it from a site in Norway. It's clear that there's some degree of fiction going on, and I think, in a weird way, that grumpy old osm./ hits something true: Justin Hall tells all, EXCEPT for the strange concealment of that constellation of family wealth, connections, and special privilege that enables his particular life-presentation. He doesn't write much about that, does he?

I like to look for the nub of concealment in the so-called revelatory genres. Take those confessional anthropological narratives written in the last 10 or 15 years (I did a degree in anthro so I've read quite a few). You read all about the native girls or guys the anthropologists f*cked, their inner thoughts, lots of **personal** stuff. One thing they NEVER write about is how bad they speak the native language. It's hard to get really fluent in most any language, but from reading these ethnographies, you'd think the anthropologists speak Arabic, or Sinhala, or Twi without flaw. It's so the recorded conversation seems wholly present, unmediated. It's bullshit. I've seen these conversations:when they don't employ translators, which is a lot of the time, they're hesitant, stumbling, incoherent, and nothing like you read in the books. Justin's blog has a similar sheen.

One thing Stan was right about: people don't read blogs for fantasy versions of life-- they want the reality effect. If it's boring and banal, OK, but if it's exciting, like Justin's, even better. Fantasy on blogs just isn't compelling. When I read dream diaries on blogs, I scroll right through-- they're even worse than listening to a spouse or friend recount a long dream they had the night before.

Justin Hall does seem pretty into experimentation. He should try really telling all. It isn't that easy.

commentson 12 May 2004 : 21:01, Liz sez:

Wayne~ I think the reason people post anonymously is because they plan to return to the blog but they're annoyed for the moment. Some blogger always pops up with the, "Don't you have anything better to do, or why are you making the world a better place?" I myself draw the line at name calling on my blog, other then that speak up.

commentson 12 May 2004 : 22:36, wayne sez:

i don't read that many blogs, so pardon me if i sound naive in asking: what right does this "person" have to be annoyed because somebody that provided them free entertainment doesn't live up to their life rules?

here's the real problem: the "person" uses no humor. people dog justin from time to time and sometimes it is funny. he's an easy target, certainly no saint, certainly does not deserve pity. and a little razzing is in order. if this "person" wants to diss justin, that's fine, but make it entertaining to the rest of us. not just mean.

"annoyed for the moment" makes no sense. if i think somebody is worthless enough at one moment to tell him that he deserves shit because his teeth still chew on his mother's golden tit i would exit the blog and never give him another thought. not return day after day. hour after hour.

look at bill poncette's post. it raises some serious criticisms and observations, actual intelligent points and, surprise, he uses his name.

commentson 12 May 2004 : 22:39, wayne sez:

bill -

your post reminds me of the best critique of madonna's "sex" book. the reviewer said that reading madonna's accounting books would be more interesting than this elaborate book that detailed her sexual fantasies.

commentson 13 May 2004 : 05:17, Jeff Spicoli sez:

Some people are just a bit late to the party...

commentson 13 May 2004 : 12:51, jlw sez:

I don't think Justin has hidden that his parents are wealthy. I mean, we all are aware of it. That must have come from somewhere. I think he just doesn't go on about it because that's tacky and he probably feels like that doesn't directly relate to his current life, which is what this page is about. He may be wrong, butI've always assumed that's how he feels.

As for his lying about grad school, I have no idea. But even if he did, I don't see how that is proof that his life is fabricated or that he cannot be trusted. Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction, and I would think Justin falls into that catagory.

commentson 13 May 2004 : 17:15, Patricio López sez:

I think that in the end Justin is just a construct of our collective imagination. Links.net exists because we will it to exist. In effect there is no spoon

commentson 14 May 2004 : 00:54, Wendy sez:

This is so, completely absurd.

Note to Justin: I hope, because of this recent idiocy, you won't consider eliminating the "Comments" feature on your site.

I wish you all the best during your time in LA.

commentson 14 May 2004 : 02:09, Jon sez:

Why the heck has a funny entry inspired so many vicious comments??

commentson 14 May 2004 : 07:48, shadok sez:

I have it on excellent authority that Justin was entirely constructed by Amy as an art project, using chicken wire, paper mache, rubber cement and spraypaint.

commentson 14 May 2004 : 09:41, bill poncette sez:

A lot of you people really are Justinheads, aren't you? You'd think people had criticized Orlando Bloom or something. The consensus of the community police seems to be that the only appropriate responses to this thing are adoring in-group sympathy, or lame variations on the Sandman/Simulacrum/AI stuff like in shadok's post above. The "Note to Justin" mode is especially ludicrous.

What I like about these threads is that they've occasioned some thinking--in the minority of posts-- about why people read strangers' blogs, and what the generic expectations are. Justin Hall's own posts are often good reads too--I've found him to be one of the better bloggers out there, though I must admit that I was disappointed by the apparent deceptions. The tireless self-promotion gets wearisome too, of course, but it's pretty much the norm, as I've discovered, in blogs by people who have close or tangential connections to the ICT world.

commentson 14 May 2004 : 10:54, C(h)ristine sez:

What _is_ a "Justinhead?"

commentson 14 May 2004 : 11:37, patricio lopez sez:

or is he?

commentson 14 May 2004 : 12:37, Ethan sez:

justin's comment page is the new orkut.

commentson 14 May 2004 : 12:54, ian sez:

Thats it, theres nothing for it. I advise that Mr Hall take on an immediate world tour; reassuring his viewers that yes, he is the same Justin Hall and stands for the same issues, yes he can create 20 000 000 new jobs, lower taxes and get the troops in time for Christmas.

commentson 14 May 2004 : 14:58, patricio lopez sez:

I think this show kinda jumped the shark around the third season when Justin tried the motorcycle stunt, but it came back to life on the very special episode a couple of weeks back, I personally was in tears.

commentson 14 May 2004 : 15:42, Wendy sez:

Hey Bill,

For the love of God, give it a rest, already.

commentson 14 May 2004 : 16:27, Robert McCall sez:

to all the whiners...disclosure

commentson 14 May 2004 : 16:55, James sez:

What a malignant asshole Bill Ponchette is. (Assuming he's serious).

His words:

"Justin Hall does seem pretty into experimentation. He should try really telling all. It isn't that easy."

That statement is like telling Van Gogh how to paint.

commentson 14 May 2004 : 17:20, Raina sez:

Thanks for the disclosure, Robert.

Are blogs the dreamscape of wealth and privilege?

commentson 14 May 2004 : 18:40, Aker sez:

I kinda think bill might be onto something. He says

I like to look for the nub of concealment in the so-called revelatory genres.

Yeah, that nub of concealment is like the subtext. And the code of wealth is to place it just underneath - buried back in the history of the links, but people with enough leisure time can look for it and recognize it: a friend, a familiar face.

Where's the Wizard in all this, anyway.

commentson 14 May 2004 : 20:03, ryan sez:

are people just being envious? i guess it boils down to the question...does justin get to do these things because he is talented? or is it because his parents are pretty wealthy? or is it a bit of both? does it matter? great writer or an affected dilletante?

this is a weird aspect of cultural production. does being rich or wealthy take away the "legitmacy" of to justin's activities? perhaps his opinions and overall philosophy of life, yes. but the deitic and matter of fact statements. (i went here, here is a picture. i ate this.) are entertaining and fun to read. i can sort of agree with bill and stan viewpoints and where they are coming from...

however, justin is such a great documentarian providing pictures and good LINKS.

commentson 14 May 2004 : 20:40, James sez:

Ryan, the question you raise, about whether privilege somehow makes Justin's activities less "legitimate" is a good one -- but I think, clearly it does not. Nor do I think it matters whether Justin distorts or exaggerates any of his stories (which, incidentally, I do not think he does, except perhaps through a process of selective telling).

On the issue of privilege, I think it's interesting to think of how much Justin has given up to live this kind of life he lives -- he has given up the stability and wealth that is basically assured to someone of his background and education, to live as a kind of vagabond, writing this web site.

I have sometimes wondered whether Justin's brilliance was capable of surviving into adulthood -- in some ways, his "spark" seems suited mainly to a young person's existence, and I wondered how he would make the transition into the inevitably routinized life of a salaried adult. I have thought that, perhaps, Justin was unsure what to do with himself because his youth has been so sui generis -- it offered no clear path into adulthood.

But I keep coming back to these pages because there is a spark, a brilliance here that is difficult to explain to people -- you have to discover it in the pages yourself -- but what he has done cannot be described as a "blog." This is much, much more than a blog. It's more like a sprawling modernist or postmodernist novel, that gets much of its appeal and depth from the roughness, layering, the scraps and pictures of life, and the vague sense of progression that have accumulated over the 10+ years Justin has taken to write it.

To put it in a cliched and very corny way, I think it is impossible to overestimate the importance of this website. Privileged or not, Justin has done something truly amazing -- it is the most brilliant use of the web I have ever encountered. To quibble over whether it is a photo-realistic account of his "real" life is to miss the importance of this accomplishment that is links.net.

commentson 14 May 2004 : 21:46, Curious sez:

If Justin can live his life and blog about it, finacially secure with a Trust Fund, why would he ask for donations?

Seems like a coy way of covering up his wealth, eccentric wardrobe, and sporadic behaviour.

Ah, god bless him anyway. Reading the site and these comments are fun!

commentson 14 May 2004 : 23:28, Taylor sez:

By the way James, when you have finished, could you please wipe your mouth?

commentson 15 May 2004 : 01:01, bill poncette sez:

James is laying the adoration on a little thick here, isn't he? Or maybe it's a joke (I can't read the subtler irony very well in this medium). What he said about Hall's financial background reminds me of a passage in Teodor Adorno's _Minima Moralia_. I don't have the book with me now, so someone please correct this if I've got it wrong. Adorno's writing (in the 1940s) about the resentment that people feel toward academics who are independently wealthy, yet who hold academic posts. They arouse resentment because by working not out of financial necessity but from other motivations, they remind people of the extent to which scholarship in general has become subject to the system of capitalist exchange, like everything else.

It would be quite a stretch to apply this to Justin Hall. He uses his site to hustle jobs, push his career, make useful connections-- the marketplace is never far removed. That's why, as Curious points out above, it's strange that he doesn't blog his actual economic and acquaintance-capital-enriched existence. And yet, I agree with James that Justin has pushed this medium in some pretty interesting directions: it is often some of the more interesting stuff on the web. One of its attractions is the lack of really banal confessionalism-- as in the bloggers who go on and on about their moods, their aches and pains, their highs, their Saturdays at the mall, their desires, their dreams. I think, though, that by not revealing the grad school back door, and more about his subsidized life, Justin does his own blog a disservice, on its own terms. It would be more interesting, more itself, if he included that end of it. I'd like us all to make a formal request that when Justin resumes posting he add this layer of detail.

commentson 15 May 2004 : 03:00, Herb sez:

Ultimately, why does it matter if any or all of the entries on this site are fabricated?

The whole question of wealth is really quite silly, and speaks more of the character of the people pursuing the subject, than Justin himself.

And talking about someone as if he wasn't here, on his own site, is kinda weird.

commentson 15 May 2004 : 03:29, Liz sez:

I'm back for a third appearance on this post. I enjoyed what James had to say and I think he stated it rather well. If these comments don't end Justin may never post another entry!

BTW, this site is not perfect, it never remembers my info. ;)

commentson 15 May 2004 : 04:15, modesty verve sez:

all who read this weblog have been granted a life of extreme wealth, comfort, and privilege compared to the vast majority of sentient creatures who've put in time on this preposterous whirling sphere. is our abundance earned? deserved? justified? well managed? are we joyous? gracious? benevolent? content?

commentson 15 May 2004 : 08:19, Howard Rheingold sez:

The back door to grad school was that they are trying to put some pizazz into their new interactive media program, and anyone trying to put pizazz into a new interactive media program would be delighted to have Justin Hall on hand.

commentson 15 May 2004 : 08:37, Patricio Lopez sez:

I think finally a concensus has been reached:

Justin, could you please post your bank statements for the past ten years as well as a letter from a lawyer or a notary public testifying that you are you. A valid birth certificate and a driver's licence would help enormously also.

Its the only way will ever find out if truth is beauty or the other way around.

commentson 15 May 2004 : 09:03, Howard Rheingold sez:

Or a current photo of your penis, of course.

commentson 15 May 2004 : 15:23, skittlez98 sez:

a current photo of your penis...hmmm with that nice hand of yours wrapped around it...oops was i really thinking that, when all of this scandal is surrounding the infamous "justin hall" if that is your real name... keep up the good work, obviously it's working for you with all of these comments being posted. thankx

commentson 15 May 2004 : 17:54, kiri sez:

Of fer crissakes, this is the most inane discussion I've ever read. Who's gives a damn what kind of financial backing - priviledges Justin has or has not? Have you pimped the web 1/2 as hard as Justin has in his lifetime? I met him once, back at Web 98, he's not my friend, I don't know him, but I continue to read him because he's one of those rare people on the web, nay tech in totality, that is truly excited about what it has to offer. To everyone - not just those with the bucks to buy the latest gear. Hell, if he can bring that enthusiasm to stale ache-a-demia and give it a good kick in the butt USC just got a sweet deal, and his fellow students are in for a treat. Quit yer bitchen gherkins and infuse tech with your own 2 cents - then come back when you've spread as much tech good will as Justin has, and the you have the right to complain about so called advantages. Money has its advantages, natch, but spreading ideas, hard work and enthusiam also go a long long way.

commentson 16 May 2004 : 21:48, Paul G sez:

i think that it has been several months - maybe a year - since i last read this page.
the reason that i stopped following links.net is one of the topics of the current debate:
the author's affluence.

in christmas past, it was not unusual for my family to receive cards and letters from friends and relatives. some of the holiday missives that i remember reading took on the form of great lists detailing the purchases, travels, and education of the writers and their families.

my family didn't send letters like that; my family didn't have money. reading about what other people's money allowed them to do made me feel like crap. merry christmas.

life is not infinite in its possibilities, for everyone.

when i began to read things on-line, a familiar pattern appeared: there were those web authors who documented their purchases, travels, and educational experiences; and there were those who didn't. very rarely would anyone write plainly, "i am wealthy." and yet, if a reader stopped to consider the cost of the computer, bicycle, motorcycle, car, camera, entertainment, travel, home purchase, etc, mentioned by some authors, a large sum of money - from someplace - was implied.

so what?

right. if you can't relate to it, or if you don't enjoy it, just stop reading.

however, there are other issues involved. another topic in this debate/discussion/thread is authenticity. are people what they claim to be?

justin has written about access, freedom, and a host of other topics. i've enjoyed that writing - and have been sympathetic to what i thought was the push for inclusion: bringing the web to the people, i.e. jerks like me who don't have tech backgrounds, or gigantic corporations at our disposal.

and there's the rub - as i see it - democratic rhetoric v. aristocratic privilege.

(a) writing about relationships, stages of life, death, etc, is inherently democratic: we all experience these things.

(b) writing about the ownership of a thing, or a trip to a special place, is elite.

over time, links.net seems to have shifted from (a) to (b). that's my impression. and (b) is difficult for me to relate to, or integrate with my system of values. i miss (a). and (a) - done with honesty - is more and more difficult to find.

commentson 16 May 2004 : 23:44, jlw sez:

The real question is what we are owed by justin. Does he owe us full disclosure? Are we intitled to every ditail of his financial and educational life?

In my opinion, Justin owes us nothing. This is his site. Reading it does not entitle the reader to anything more that what has been written. Do we read a novel and get angry about the details that are left out? While Justin is a journalist of sorts, his personal web site does not fall under journalistic ethics.

It's like my cell phone. Everyone's always angry at me because I rarely answer my cell. That's because I pay for my cell phone for my convience, not for theirs, so I answer it when it is convient for me.

This is Justin's site and uses it as he sees fit. He doesn't owe us anything, not even the truth.

commentson 17 May 2004 : 08:59, forest sez:

I like your site Justin.
I like your camera and your laptop and your house and your intellect and your history and your pda.

I like people places and things...indescriminately..and it makes me happy.

commentson 17 May 2004 : 10:29, James sez:

Paul G --

You raise some good, important points. There are times when I've shared your skepticism concerning Justin's site. You speak of him moving from a focus on access, to a focus on the elite privileges he enjoys. And I've had similar thoughts.

But, I think that the distinction between (a) and (b) is not quite as clear as you make it out to be. The privileges represented by (b) are a result, I think, of his emphatic celebration of (a), for upwards of ten years. He has become a celebrity because he was one of the first people to lay bare his soul and his life on the web.

When Justin holds out his life as an example for us, I think it's best to look at it this way: he is an example of how the ecstatic embrace of human connection, fostered by the World Wide Web, can make your life richer. As it has done for him. When he describes flying all over the world, he's not lording it over us, but simply sharing what his life is like these days --- a life made possible, largely, by his prophetic web proselytizing. When he describes his latest gadgets, he's not trying to make us feel bad for what we can't afford, but he's giving us a glimpse of the future. He's on the vanguard of this stuff, and has been since he was a teenager, so he cannot be compared to some yuppie who runs to Best Buy to buy some gadget just to have it. Justin lives this stuff -- it's his passion -- and he's passionate about sharing it. I don't see an ounce of materialism in Justin. I don't know him personally, but I've read a heck of a lot of this site.

Where privilege comes in, I think, is mainly in the background. Someone who was not raised like Justin was, attending an expensive prep school and an elite liberal arts college, might not have had the luxury or leisure to pursue his passions in such depth. If he had been an average joe/jane attending a state college and working part-time jobs, he wouldn't have had as much leisure time to make links.net. Someone who wasn't able to attend such institutions might not have been surrounded by bright, passionate individuals who were able to stoke his passions with their own enthusiasm and eager response.

We shouldn't hold his privilege against him. If anything, he has used it in an incredible way -- to bring a sense of possibility, a conception of a new way of life, to everyone. Many artists, many vanguard individuals, were aristocrats whose wealth and privilege gave them the ability to pursue something with maniacal passion. And their contributions are valuable -- even if the privilege that made these contributions possible for them is not available to all of us.

commentson 17 May 2004 : 10:47, Moya sez:

I first knew of Justin Hall when he appeared in Doug Block's now infamous documentary on cyberliving. I found him terribly interesting, especially since I knew him to be a special friend of a friend of mine: Howard Rheingold, famous writer and cyber-pioneer. A few years ago, I was working with Howard as his researcher for Smart Mobs: The Next Social Revolution and I had to speak with Justin on the phone because he was my database programmer. I have to say that I won't ever forget that phone call. He was so interesting, so nice, so different from most people I have ever spoken to before that I will always remember the call. When I think of Justin, I think of something that is attributed to George Eliot: "It is never too late to be what you might have been." I think Justin understands this on a level that most people do not and is continually seeking his destiny. He has done a lot with his life and has had the guts to hardnose the highway. I say more power to him.

commentson 17 May 2004 : 11:28, overbite sez:

Now wait a minute. Hasn't anybody ever read an autobiography or diaries before? Moya you should check out Christopher Isherwood's diaries, or Edmund Wilson's, or Simone de Beauvoir's, and then you'll have an idea of a fucking LIFE. (Those are books, btw, and are not on the www). Compared to lives like theirs, JH's musings are negligible, and I think he would agree with that judgment--he isn't normally that pretentious a writer, except when he tries to be literary, as in the post above. He's living, as James says, "a life on the web," and that's cool-- I read him myself in order to learn about how that's done, and how people like that think about machines and technology--not that I have any desire to live on the web myself. I never thought much of his more philosophical moments-- Justin's not much of an idea man, though he sometimes pretends to be. Since I used to read Justin Hall to learn stuff, I too felt a little ripped off when the extent of his invention, or concealment at least, became clear. I'll still read the site, though, to find out about how people in his world think about blogs,games and phones and things. I think it's really really weird, though, that people go on about how great he is, what a celebrity he is, and how wonderful he is. What's that all about, James? Why the hagiography?

commentson 17 May 2004 : 15:12, le sez:

i am thankful that justin has had the means to live his life in the way that he has, so that he can tell us all about it.

commentson 17 May 2004 : 18:23, Moya sez:

Since I have three degrees, two of them Masters, I think I know what a book is. Thank you.

commentson 17 May 2004 : 19:40, James sez:

overbite --

Yes, in fact, I have read Isherwood's diaries -- as well as his memoir, "My Master and His Disciple," about his relationship with his guru while living in Hollywood. So thanks, but I didn't need the introduction.

Why do you get so exercised over the fact that I praise Justin? The very fact that you are here reading the site suggests that something fascinates you about him -- but perhaps hearing him praised highly sparks your envy? You don't like to hear someone praised? Does that eat away at you?

Maybe it's not cool of me to praise someone highly on their own website, but I think it's important to recognize people for what they have accomplished. Justin's accomplishment with links.net strikes me as being in the tradition of Leaves of Grass -- in fact, the comparison is quite apt since Whitman continually added to the poem until his death. (See, I read, too.) To me, Justin is kind of a cross between Basquiat and Whitman -- with Basquiat's energy and fearlessness and collage-like aesthetic, and Whitman's patient willingness to create a poem of accretion.

In fact, Overbite, Justin's particular genius resides largely in the fact that, unlike you, he is not stuck on the notion that, in order to be a valid and respected work of art, words do not have to be published between hard covers. If he had been mired in that notion, then he would not have achieved what he has achieved. Someone who decides, "I want to be like Isherwood -- and since Isherwood wrote BOOKS, I am only going to write BOOKS," is damning him/herself to irrelevance.

This isn't hagiography; it's just my expression of profound respect.

commentson 18 May 2004 : 00:21, jerkyboy sez:

Walt Whitman? Leaves of Grass? Now I know you're putting us on. Or is this just some over-the-top ass licking to get Justin to start posting again?

commentson 18 May 2004 : 02:02, Constantin sez:

Please come to Berlin, Justin. You wont regret it.

commentson 21 May 2004 : 14:49, nubchai sez:

Wow this is getting weird. James at first I thought you were attempting to redefine the art of fawning. Now I agree with jerky that you're jerking us :) Justin is just a guy who has an interesting website and hustles writing jobs for a living. Surely you all remember that his mother bought the house for him. He never made a secret of that. I'm sure she helps him out when he needs money. What mother wouldn't. She probably put the house in his name so now that he's selling it he'll have money for grad school. Was this all a planned move by him months ago? Who knows? Just can be dramatic at times. But let's keep this in perpective. I suspect that the writing isn't as lucrative as you'd suspect and having a degree that will allow him to teach is a good move. He's not getting any younger.

commentson 20 June 2004 : 13:02, jerkyboy sez:

Hey, why isn't anybody posting on this thread anymore? COME ON BACK, PEOPLE. Haven't you all noticed the new tone in Justin's posting since he got taken down for lying and wealth-concealing. Much more modest, much more humane. Relatively upfront about his finances. The same I'll-try-anything personna that fits his new-technological frontier thing. Not Whitman or Basquiat to be sure, but he's certainly reached the level of a couple of the columnists in my local paper, the Bloomington Herald Times. I still don't get this grad school thing, abd I think nubchai is wrong about the job prospects. In an early posting, he acted like he was going so he could get an academic job. BUt no one would give him a decent academic job in this field without a Ph.D. I wonder what's with that?

February 2005 - comments are closed on Links.net. Thanks.