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

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why the web?


The web is the first semi-permanent unlimited world wide exhibition space. Think of it as a neverending world's fair, where anyone can set up a booth, and you don't have to be there to see it.
The web is an opportunity to make good our fifteen megabytes of fame. Because web pages encompass any existing media, you can forge your site in your own image. You can be unique, because there are no expectations. Most people set up personal home pages out of nothing other than love and curiousity.
This is what is healthy and wonderful about the web. When you discover the "model train home page," and it's not set up by Lionel, you know it is a labour of love. Some gal who loves those trains put up a page with a picture of her track, her and her son playing with the trains, and a list of designer trains she's created.

What does she get out of that effort? Folks who are interested see what she is doing, and she hears from people who share her passion for trains. Perhaps another train enthusiast will be inspired to set up their own page, and soon there will be a online community of train enthusiasts.

When you start talking about cancer, in addition to trains, the possibilities for enhancing our daily lives become apparent.

Why put details about your personal life online?

What would you rather read? A pamphlet? Or a heartfelt tale, or personal perspective? The web will reflect humanity if we put our lives online.

Putting our lives online does not mean leading our lives online, it is about utilizing unprecedented sharing. We interact in the real world, and we use cyberspace to collaborate and share and conjure new possibilities.

Do we want to see ourselves, joys and sorrows, reflected in cyberspace, or do we want an easier mall? Not that both won't exist, but when you sit down to craft your page, take into account which you'd rather see.

Why would anyone care about my life/hobbies/stories?

Writing it down and putting it up is the large part of the catharsis: crafting art, making something transcendent out of everyday existance. That people would read it is flattery. They will, because people are naturally curious.
Because we are lonely. We need more friends, or sympathetic ears, people who will listen to our stories, and tell us their own, or tell us they were moved. We like to read other people's stories because they help us affirm our own - we are not alone out there.
Since people can't see you, prejudice is harder to come by. The anonymity of cyberspace can free you from shame; the possibility of embarassment or harassment is lessened when the people sharing your stories aren't there to spit in your face. Most people won't take the time to deliver negative comments. They wouldn't bother visiting your site if they weren't somehow interested.

Would you rather they read your resume, or your autobiography?
I'll tell you which I would prefer!

humanizing the highway

The web is the prototype for how people will relate by computer in the next century, and beyond. There may not be web pages in 2010, but there will be an Internet, in one form or another.

Right now, the web offers a bridge between that old media world of broadcast text and images, and the new world of video virtual reality interconnectedness.

It is critical that folks get on there and make the web reflect human culture, relationships, community.

The Networks may be planning a big Internet video launch of all of their programming next year, but if it is as banal as most of television, I will be right back on the web. Ultimately, people are responsible for the production of those shows, and those stories. With the web, you are offered the chance to directly produce your own material. The technology makes it possible to look as slick as the professionals, so the playing field is levelled. What is important is the story, the intention. Is your heart in it? If it is, it will show, and it will show up the people making pages to make a buck.

People worry about government censorship. It is easy to censor pornography collections, because you can justify it - sex out of context can be a dangerous thing. But if the sex is part of a larger story, love, erotica, relationships - a life story, then the job of the censors is compounded, difficult. If you want to see sex online, grassroots it. Tell small-scale sexual stories. Publish pictures of you and your partner posing naked together. Making a business out of it is what draws attention to it.

The more widespread and grassroots the Internet, the more difficult it will be to dominate and control it. You can contribute directly to the humanizing of the wires by telling your story, adding your persona to the unaffiliated.

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