Date: Fri, 13 Dec 1996 21:11:09 -0800
To: (Rosanne Bersten)
From: justin <>
Subject: first round - entry, private/public

Rosanne Bersten sed at 16:05 +1100 12/13/96,

>Shall we start now?

good attitude!

one caveat - I write mosttimes without capitalization, with odd grammar, madeup words, incorrect punctuation, and
strange line and paragraph breaks.

could you please publish my comments that way?


>Boring question first:
>Can you sum up (for those who've never heard of you) what you "do" and how
>you first got involved with the Internet?

I'm 21 years old. when I was 7 - my sainted mother brought an apple II+ into the house. late at night, weekdays, weekends, I found that I could stimulate myself on the computer long after most people lost patience.
I continued with computers as I grew up, especially computer games. looking for games, and people to talk about them, I began hanging out on chicago bulletin boards - places where people called each other with computers to chat and leave messages and trade files.
I naturally gravitated towards the internet when I was in high school, and especially at college (at Swarthmore in Pennsylvania). I had a constant connection in my dorm room, so I was pretty plugged in. when the web came out, I got on when it was young, january 1994, and began surfing relentlessly. so stimulating! learn by wandering media! so absorbing! and so easy to publish -

I started writing about the places I'd been online and what caught my eye. people came to my web pages to read my reviews and I urged them to read my other writings. feedback stimulated continued publishing. I ended up building my autobiography ( to fill in the gaps between poems and writings and stories and geographies. today, I write each day and put up photos of the day before; kind of a journal, kind of a performance art piece, definitely an experiment. I'm a sort of travelling raconteur - I look forward to sharing what I learn about the world, what makes me happy and sad, with an audience over the computer.

since I was on there early, I've had a chance to influence a number of web publishers. I encourage everyone to build something in cyberspace - especially human-scale projects, it'll make the media space of the 21st century a more comfortable place to be.

>Then the beginning of the real stuff. I'm probably going to ask you
>whatever questions pop into my head and then organise them later. Here
>You publish your extremely detailed diary on the Web, and you invite people
>who read it to comment on it. Do you feel that there isn't much distinction
>for you between public and private space now?

public and private. I think about what I would want to be private, and why - mosttimes it's because I fear someone would judge me based on the information, or could use it against me. so I look forward to revealing things about myself as sharing the power of personal information so widely that it becomes equanimitous and useless. there are few secrets that anyone could manipulate me with - mostly things I've forgotten.

and I've found that by sharing precisely those things that are otherwise deemed private - sex, relationships, death - people respond in the most potent ways. more than movie reviews, puff pieces about famous people, or ranting about government policies, there's something to grasp ahold of immediately. there's someone talking about what it means to be human, what gets them out of bed in the morning. sleek sites are generally a poor substitute for passion.

plus, it breaks down some of the sterility otherwise expected from technology and media. if this coming future is to be dominated by those forces, we need to have some sense that our humanity is welcome. if your father dies, you can find someone else talking honestly about that. if you hate your job, you would be relieved to find someone speaking straight about theirs online. even if they weren't exactly like you, even if you disagreed with them - that sense of relief from finding an honest perspective is the same on a computer as it is anywhere else.

I wish people who discount the use or value of personal writing could see the responses I get. people see themselves reflected in the evolving truth of my life, because I write about so many different situations they can recognize something they've been through or been afraid of or wanted in their life.

it's not for everyone all the time, but we all need to hear occasionally from someone who reminds us that we are not alone - not alone in wondering about things you can't buy.

not that it isn't hard - some people are threatened by this kind of attention, afraid of being sucked into a kind of media production vortex surrounding me. I try to make it clear that I respect people's wishes for privacy in their own life, but interaction with me is clearly part of my learning process, and so logically a part of what I analyze and present to other folks also searching for meaning.

if this interview is to be published online, might I suggest the following links:

from "sainted mother" -
from "swarthmore college" -
from "so easy to publish" -
from "kind of a journal" -

should I build those in next time?

here's the first installment, keep them questions comin'
thanks rosanne,