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

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2013 Archives

seeking old-time personal publishers

Have you been active on the web for a while, sharing personal stories? Me too!

Maybe you could record a short video of yourself answering some questions about your experience? I'm planning a video for the 20th anniversary of this web site and I'd love your participation. #20links

America's Longest Railroad Route

Ilyse and I rode the train together from Chicago to San Francisco in December 2013. About 50 hours, 2400 miles - Amtrak's California Zephyr is America's longest railroad ride. Here's our coverage:

Amtrak's Longest Route on YouTube
Amtrak's Longest Route on Facebook

I ended up taking a week off from my one-video-per-week commitment, to celebrate my birthday. Fortunately, I was covered by the lovely surprising effort by Taylor Skillin who remixed my videos to date for this: "Justaposition"


Thanks to Ilyse for the stop-motion and time-lapse GoPro photography!

Thanks to the person who put the California Zephyr route on Google Maps.

Thanks be to Final Cut Pro X, or something because I wore a shirt with small red checks and when I was editing it looked like crazy moiré. Once I rendered, however? It looked as bad as my normal videos! Hallelujah!

I promised to do one video per week for the last few months of 2013. Almost done! Then I'm gonna work on a single longer video about this here web site in January 2014. That's my plan! Plans are hilarious, but still helpful. Nothing happens as we can predict since possibilities are vast. I am happy to have a conception of my-time-well-spent for another few weeks at least! We shall see how my vision coincides with our shared universe in time.

Taylor Skillin remixed my greenscreen footage into this galaxy-plumbing filmic adventure: Justaposition - so honored and tickled!

Wedding Etiquette

Wondering how you can be a good wedding guest? Experimental Evangelist Justin Hall has some tips:

VIDEO: YouTube: Wedding Etiquette - consider subscribing
Facebook: Wedding Etiquette - consider "liking"

Wedding Etiquette:

Weddings are a great chance to support a couple by mingling across the aisle. If you're sitting in a corner at a wedding, talking to people you already knew beforehand, you're not doing it right.

I just attended a wedding, an old friend got married in his Mom's living room in Chicago. Afterwards I got an email thanking me for circulating through the reception. I guess I did! At another wedding in West Texas a few years back, I sat down at a table with people speaking Spanish with big cowboy hats. I don't speak much spanish myself, but we managed to swap a few life stories and it was fun meeting folks that I don't normally hang out with!

As a wedding guest, I believe strongly that I have a fun obligation to meet strangers and help build community around the couple. These people invited me, maybe rented out a hall, paid for my food and drink - they're spending their resources to bring their community together to celebrate and support their union.

The community serves the couple by forming broad family bonds. Bride and groom, groom and groom, bride and bride, they're going to need support through merging, sickness, birth, death, and doubt. The wedding serves to form a net underneath their connubial tightrope walking.

If I'm invited to a wedding, I have the chance to help weave that net. I might be more social than most folks, but fortunately, weddings are safe spaces for nearly anyone to meet new people. Everyone at a wedding is in the same love club for those two people.

Next time you're at a wedding, introduce yourself to someone you don't know. Ask them how they came to be there, where do they live? Then maybe introduce them to someone they don't know. Build social connections across age, geography, class, gender, whatever.

By the end of the wedding reception you might feel yourself to be part of a strong temporary community gathered around two people who foresee a future together. Joining and strengthening community around a couple be a fabulous group wedding gift.

Behind the Camera

There's plenty of wedding footage available under a Creative Commons license (searching YouTube for Wedding Reception under Creative Commons and searching Vimeo for Wedding under Creative Commons). I found Kashmiri weddings, Eritrian Weddings, Korean Weddings, Australian Weddings - I opened about 15 videos in 15 tabs all at once and since YouTube auto-plays them, I had 15 clashing wedding soundtracks from around the world. I leapt up in glee - it reminded me of my old happy cacaphony radio show the electric eclectic.

when I was a DJ in college

When I was a DJ in college - I never did DJ a wedding

I ended up using really only one externally-sourced video: Bryan Whiting's "Seth and Leslie's Wedding Reception Time Lapse" posted Creative Commons on YouTube.

The rest of the footage came from two weddings I attended in the last three years: Erin & GK, and Valerie con Jules - please observe the Ryan Junell seersucker shorts cameo.

Thanks to Ilyse Magy for photographing me with GK, and her feedback on edits! This piece started off a lot longer; she pointed out the most redundant parts. Her swift and sure judgements helped me leave the house in time to see Duckwrth and KRS-One perform hip-hop at Yoshi's Jazz Club and sushi bar, built on top of the otherwise tragic Fillmore District. Duckwrth is an up-and-coming wordsmith and worldview-widener; he's part of an arts collective called Them Hellas - you can meet a few of last night's performers on the Them Hellas YouTube.

Of my last ?? videos, ?? have featured music by Kevin MacLeod. He makes a wide range of quality short compositions free for use under Creative Commons: Attribution license. is a treasure trove for independent video making. I donated money to thank him, and I follow him on Twitter - Kevin MacLeod is amusing as well as civic-minded.

what next

This is my third scripted piece. Citizen Cloud, Thanksgiving grace and this were written out beforehand. Ten years ago I would have posted this as a blog entry, twenty years ago I would have made a standalone page.

My web site turns 20 years old in late January 2014. Whoo hoo! Still postin'. I am working on a scripted short exploration of twenty years sharing life online for that date.

I promised I would do a video a week "for the rest of 2013". I almost excused myself from the rest of December to focus on a video, but a deal is a deal. Plus I love making videos. I will finish the month and then I will experiment with more wood behind a longer arrow.

A Thanksgiving Grace 2013

This week's video is a re-reading of the grace I spoke before my family Thanksgiving dinner in Chicago:

A Thanksgiving Grace 2013 on YouTube, Facebook

Thanks to Ethan Kinsey for the Baobab photo!

A Thanksgiving Grace 2013:

let's bow our heads and close our eyes.
let's conjure all ancestors, all animals, all microbes -
all buzzing beings that share and have shared this universal space with us:

we follow in your disappearing footsteps
and sit on the world you've carved

what a miracle we have this
square cave and diverse sustenance
to share together
without fear of common violence

we have won a chance to live
we'll make our best of it
we have resources, we have friends

we owe every beautiful thing in our lives
to others
before us and around us.

let's thank those that made a space for us here
let's leave this a better world for those that follow.

I'm a return grace-performer at my family Thanksgiving table; here's Thanksgiving Grace for 2012 for example.

Citizen Cloud video on YouTube, Facebook.

My latest video is a pitch for an online backup service from the NSA, the US National Security Agency. For more information, visit!

Steve Jobs biography book coverIn late October, author Walter Isaacson emailed asking if he could interview me for his new book about the development of the internet. I thoroughly enjoyed Isaacson's 2012 biography of Steve Jobs so I was excited for the opportunity to meet him in conversation.

During his career, Issacson has worked as a journalist and as management, telling stories and leading news organizations. I wondered, how he struck a balance between independence and working with groups.

Walter Isaacson: Storyteller? Preacher? Manager?

After he interviewed me, I pointed my mobile phone camera at a willing Walter Isaacson for this week's video:

Watch the 5 minute interview on YouTube, Facebook, or Flickr

Tools for Shared Thought

Isaacson's research on the development of the internet reminds me of Howard Rheingold's 1985 book Tools for Thought (Read | Purchase). Tools for Thought hailed the PC as a mind-amplification device, before the internet was a part of our daily lives.

In Tools for Thought, Rheingold's chapter "Johnny Builds bombs and Johnny Builds Brains" was my first exposure to the astonishing life and mind of John Von Neumann. There are amazing characters in the history of computing; Isaacson is likely to feature the likes of Lovelace and Babbage, Turing, Bush and Engelbart, to name a few likely to appear in a few techloving Personal Pantheons.

previewing Isaacson's next book - ATIGT!

Isaacson's Einstein, Franklin and Jobs biographies have hung on a single life experience. Isaacson is now setting out to write a biography of the collaborative internet. I asked Isaacson about the structure for this project during some footage that isn't in the 5 minute cut from our 2nd interview:

Isaacson has a long editing relationship with Alice Mayhew. Mayhew edited his book with Evan Thomas: The Wise Men: Six Friends and the World They Made, about six policymakers who helped set a role for America on the global stage after World War II. The text covered six intersecting lives, and sometimes they would follow the story somewhere, and then have to rewind to catch up with someone.

As Mayhew edited The Wise Men, she wrote ATIGT in the margins. ATIGT - All Things in Good Time. Isaacson brandished that phrase describing this project - employing strict chronology to keep the stories ordered around the timing of the core narrative.

Walter Isaacson shows his shorthand - animated GIF
Walter Isaacson shows his shorthand - animated GIF

I asked Walter Isaacson about his own use of technology. Isaacson showed me his Field Notes notebook, inside, his shorthand. Debating media, Isaacson described books as well-suited to linear narrative, while the web he described as more suited to information hunting and gathering. What more he sees in this medium we will have to await in his book, or perhaps keep an eye on Articles by Walter Issacson to get a preview.

media generations

I felt like I was in the middle of an inter-generational narrative relay race: advising a published author on the evolution of online self-expression, as he described the narrative he saw taking shape around human innovation. Isaacson and Rheingold tell me what traditions and genius were leveraged to build the systems I use. I pick up the baton, "hey these tools have great potential to increase collaboration, and these geniuses might show us the way!" Then I tell some of that story here, hoping someone will figure out how to evolve a vision for knowledge sharing for audiences adapted to more responsive media.

The story of the internet is so widespread now; I imagine Isaacson has much gathering and synthesizing ahead of him. Maybe I will end up briefly celebrated by the same bard that celebrated Steve Jobs and Albert Einstein. Walter Isaacson has now been celebrated by the bard that wrestled with Vonnegut, imposed on Burroughs and duped Oliver North.

I had a sustained experience of appearing in writing after Scott Rosenberg made me the subject of the first chapter in Say Everything: a book about blogging. That was a large bit of writing to read about oneself. I have generated piles of text here in this site; so it's not that I'm uncomfortable appearing in print. But it's very different when people tell your story, because they're employing your story to tell another story, which is invariably their own story.

Having a chance to observe the difference between my story and someone else's version of my story has since effected the way I write about other people. There's really no way to know anything about anyone - I aim for well-intentioned description. I can see why people would feel like "Why did that Justin guy make a page about me and say that stuff? He sorta got some stuff right but that other thing is wrong and weird and either way I didn't ask to tell the world that detail about my life."

Scott Rosenberg was a thorough reporter with a good sense of humor, I was fortunate. The people who have appeared on this site, maybe not so fortunate. I got a message a few years ago from my college girlfriend Chandra, my girlfriend in college 1994 when I was 19 and just starting to posting poems here. She didn't totally object to appearing on the new internet, but it wasn't always agreeable to her.

Then in 2011, a mutual college friend Balthazar died, and Chandra contacted me via Facebook with this note:

For some reason my mind flashed on Balthazar (remember him?). Like any person living in the here and now, I embarked on internet research to satisfy my curiosity. One picture of him exists online, one you took 17 years ago and posted on your "links." So, for the first time, I feel grateful to these "links" that I often scorned because I feel the beauty of recording life since it can slip away so suddenly. ... every person deserves a certain honoring of their existence. After almost two decades, I wanted to thank you for that service. I am glad to be able to see an image of Balthazar.

raise a fist I may never receive a nicer commendation for my web work than Chandra writing 'So, for the first time, I feel grateful to these "links" that I often scorned because I feel the beauty of recording life since it can slip away so suddenly.' It was humbling to receive that full circle affirmation.

I'm still writing, and making personal media. Maybe now if someone complains about appearing on my page, I can say, "sorry, I got ahead of myself fashioning you an online gravestone."

All over this global square of proclaiming, us into screens, at each other - in 200 years few people will be remembered, even people who win awards and make famous things. It's somewhat reassuring to remember that all the public thinking I can ever do is in service of some unknowable objective that will never be accomplished. Hah!


Isaacson described himself as a storyteller who had a stint in management and come back to focus on storytelling. Telling a resonant story is a key part of leading a group. Perhaps I should have asked Isaacson whether he's more of a leader or a loner - I met him as a biographer, but he also runs a think tank so he's a loner who at least hosts conversations.

This again reminds me of Howard Rheingold - a writer and editor who ran a business and then back to being a writer. Rheingold spends most of his time alone, but he's constantly conversing with people around the world, even running Rheingold University out of his office.

I last worked in an office in June 2013. Five months since I was in a group productivity environment and I can see the shape of my self-directed time. Simple breakfast and water, computing until mid-afternoon, errands or walking, dinner or socializing, more work and bed. I am happy at home - never cafes. I spend most of my "work" time alone communicating with people. I love following up on my own questions, and being able to follow through on collaborations with friends.

I went from journalist to CEO, then Director at a large organization, to Experimental Evangelist. Not bad for a guy who exposed himself to the internet. I acted crazy, and shared it publicly, which was perhaps crazier, and I've still emerged semi-employable. Not sure what I'll end up doing tomorrow, except probably thinking about my dad. For a change!

Father Time

Thursday 14 November 2013 is 30 years since Wesley Hall my father killed himself. When I was a teenager, I set aside hours each 14 November. I went into a room with a window in my school library to summon anger, stare off at the bare branches in the distance, cry and write poems. I had some serious reckoning to do with a self-kilt dead man.

Now that 30 years have passed, that tragedy has grown smaller in my life. I've lived through the death of another father, one I was glad to know for over two decades: my stepfather George, who passed away at 90 surrounded by loving family. My father shot himself at 58 after struggling with anger and alcohol. I have now lived through these two fathers.

And I've had fathery moments with Howard Rheingold for twenty years. Obviously Howard has left an impression on me, if only judging from how many pixel-inches of text I spent on him above. Howard got cancer and survived in 2010; I watched him stare death in the face, recover and now seize every chance to make things.

I'm grateful for the chance to evolve deep relationships with my family and friends. I'm sad I couldn't have that chance with my biological Dad. I'm grateful so many men and women stepped in to support me, give me good stories and enable me to tell my own.

My Dad has diminished as a tormentor. A few years ago I would have said divorce, combined with George's death and a feeling of mortality were my real tormentors, but I survived them too! I can't imagine what's next. If I'm lucky enough to live to see it! Whew.

Congratulations, Mom

When Isaacson emailed me last month, I remembered I had met him once before, when he was at Time Magazine and I believe I was getting a tour from a journalist. Time had launched Pathfinder, a rival online magazine to HotWired. In 1995 there weren't many professional sites online; we had a brief exchange on the subject.

So when he emailed me I mentioned that I would be in New York, where I remembered meeting him last. Fortunately he was going to be there too, so we were able to do this interview in person. I sprang the idea on him during our conversation and Issacson assented without hesitation, for which I'm grateful.

I was in New York because my Mom won a lifetime achievement award from American Lawyer magazine. When I think about my relationship to all these fathers I think about my Mom there too. I was upset at her when I was young, because she was so focused on her work, she didn't linger at home.

Now I understand her better, and I can see her as a role model. I'm grateful for the life she's passing on to me. I love work I enjoy, and I enjoy a range of work. I wonder how I would balance being a loner, a leader and a parent. I haven't yet been a father, so I don't know how I would answer the question I posed as a teary young man staring out the window, asking my dad "how could you leave me?"

Process Notes

Library selfie

I recorded the interview with my iPhone 5s, using a $20 lavalier mic with an iPhone-XLR adapter. I held the phone with a Joby GorillaPod stand - easier to grip for 13 or so minutes.

I didn't think to film myself asking the questions, so for the edit, while I'm talking I use brief clips of my face that I fortunately filmed as part of my introduction. That was a trick I came up with for my Nick Gray video which I shot with the same setup the day before Walter Isaacson, but edited the week after.

This interview was filmed on 30 October at the Metropolitan Club in New York City. Between the library setting, and the literary themes, Chamber music seemed like the most fitting soundtrack. Fortunately, my recent go-to for royalty free music, the Free Music Archive, hosts the Advent Chamber Orchestra which had a number of lovely selections. I chose their rendition of Handel's "Entrance to the Queen of Sheba for Two Oboes, Strings, and Continuo allegro" for the opener. Then Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No 3, 1 allegro to close it out.

I made the video exactly 4 minutes, 58 seconds, and 29 frames, so I could get my video listed as 4.59 (not 5 minutes). Alas, YouTube lists it as 5 minutes. Oh well - I cut things too close. I believe the pricing for goods that says 4.99 is more persuasive than 5; I suspect the same is true when people are deciding whether to watch a video. I'm honored you might watch that video, and/or have read this far!

Nick Gray: Museum Hack and Scaling Friendship

My latest weekly video is posted online:

Nick Gray: Museum Hack and Scaling Friendship on YouTube

Meeting Nick Gray

I have solicited donations for this site and people used to actually send me checks in envelopes. Bless them and gracias!

A student named Nick Gray sent in some money and a short story, asking for feedback. Years later we met up in person and I found he had a kinetic social drive. We've maintained contact ever since.

Nick's social appetite was documented in 2009 New York magazine, in an article entitled "Meet Nick Gray, Thrower of 'Culturally Significant' Williamsburg Parties" By Doree Shafrir.

Nick Gray: Museum Hacker

group tour at the Met, July 2012
Hands on the table, during our group tour of the Met with Nick in July 2012

When I visited NYC in July 2012, Nick offered to give me a tour of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. That was one of his early adventures with "Hack the Met" - creative journeys through a vast space filled with fascinating stuff. Since then, Nick quit his job installing in-flight entertainment systems for personal planes private jets and started a company called Museum Hack to offer more folks the chance to experience great museums.

How are museum objects different from any other object? How can we participate in museums to maximize teleportation: putting ourselves in the wood shoes and rough wool of some ancestors, or poised on a blade of grass, eyeing an insect predator? I enjoyed Nick's version of a museum because it brought me closer to the lived objects inside.

Fortunately, it seems there's plenty of interest in Museum Hack - there's a recent Wall Street Journal article: "Museum Hack's Tasting-Menu Approach to the Art Museum Tour" by Laura Neilson. And he reports that individuals and companies are signing up.

Nick Gray: video for friends

Nicks email signature
Nick's email signature in mid-October 2013

I was curious to ask Nick about his business, but also something else I noticed when I emailed him - Nick posts short personal video a few times a week that he includes in his email signature. For Nick, these short videos are about reinforcing existing social connections - not reaching a large audience. Is short personal video a good way to "scale friendship" as Nick suggests? I certainly feel closer to Nick watching his videos, but I'm not sure that it would work if everyone made short videos a few times a week. Too much to keep up with! Maybe it would be nice to have the opportunity to watch someone's most recent video - just to hear them talk, if you were curious about them. Facebook starts to seem flat when you have access to someone's moving body gestures and spoken words.

Recently I attended an office-warming party for Funomena, filled with some talented friends from the game industry. I was eager to catch up with them; a few that I spoke with felt they had already caught up with me since they had seen my recent videos! It reminded me of the personal sharing imbalance I feel when I meet someone who says "I've read your web site" - if I haven't read theirs, or if they don't have one, well, then I have some questions to ask them to balance out our mutual awareness!

Video Recycling

This week's video is compiled around another well-documented subject. Besides Nick's prodigious casual video output, Hack the Met and Museum Hacks have well-tended up-to-date online presences. So I delved into Hack the Met's video collection on Facebook using Something like Keepvid is an invaluable tool for the online video sampler and remixer. Vimeo has a download button. But most other sites do not. Someone like Nissim Farin from Footage Island on YouTube says "you can use any of my clips in your own work!" in his video descriptions. KeepVid allows you to download it, in the format of your choice! You can copy and paste the URL to, or tap a bookmarklet and boom: you are video recycling.

Of course I don't want to plagiarize - I make videos myself. I like it when people say "this photo came from Justin." So I give credit in my credits and obey people's requests and permissions. There's so many videos produced by so many devices now; it's nice to think that we're all making source material and we can be socially linked as we make video together and give proper attribution :-)

Besides, like I said in my Jamie Wilkinson interview in October, writing a thorough bibliography for sampled media is a good way to show up in search engines, driving traffic to your project and potentially identifying yourself to otherwise unseen internet collaborators!

Music from dublab on the Free Music Archive: Lawrence Grey, "The St. Marks Shake" and Wake - "Steppin".

Justin Hall meets Justin Hall

In the 1990s through web searching I discovered there was another guy named Justin Hall who lived in the bay area and told personal stories.

Finally in October 2013, Justin Hall meets Justin Hall Video.

That's a brief video interview I did with Justin Hall, the comic book writer & teacher. I shot and edited this on my mobile phone as I am on the road. The new version of iMovie on the iPhone allows separate audio and video tracks which is a huge improvement.

Justin Hall was a warm friendly funny guy and I look forward to hanging out with him again!

Jamie is a provocative internet lover. From Free Art & Technology Lab work, to Know Your Meme, Jamie has explored the internet and worked to evolve its culture in the public domain.

Now Jamie is CEO of VHX. How did that happen?

an interview with Jamie Wilkinson: Internet Love, Viral Videos and

Watch on YouTube - Subscribe
Watch on Vimeo - Subscribe
Watch on Facebook - Like
Watch on Flickr

Jamie Wilkinson ( was a great candidate for a first interview experience. We always have amusing chats. He's precocious about exploring the internet. He's aligned with open source and the public domain. And now he is running a company focused on improving the online video experience for artists and video consumers.

Note: I'm not a customer of Jamie's, or his company, just a curious friend. I met Jamie through Mimi Ito and Kenyatta Cheese; Kenyatta was my co-teacher for "Portable Video Production and Internet Distribution" at the University of Southern California.

Through Know Your Meme and more, Jamie has his own experience with online video and amateur production; this made him sympathetic, participatory and patient with my emerging home green screen process.

I didn't anticipate how choosing Jamie might make editing easy - Jamie has left a rich trail as a combination media-maker and public speaker. Searching Vimeo and YouTube for Jamie Wilkinson I had plenty to choose from.

What I Learned

For this video, I had my first true multicam experience. Three cameras, set up in my basement, pointed at the two of us on a green screen. I used two iPhones, each with more megapixels than my 2006-era Sony HDR-SR1. I logged the footage into Final Cut Pro X, using the powerful multicam syncing features therein.

I've been messing unsuccessfully with 2-audio-in-1-camera; for this shoot I used 2x inexpensive lavalier mics into the camera and one of the iPhones. Getting the lavalier into the iPhone also required an iPhone-XLR adapter.

Ilyse asked why I didn't have better angles straight on Jamie's face; that was a limit of the shape of my green screen setup. I "lifted the curtain" just before the credits so you can see; I didn't have much room to cheat around.

A few weeks of regular production made this go surprisingly smooth; I can see more I would improve, but I'm grateful that my first green screen interview attempt came together.

I filmed on Friday, edited over the weekend, and on into Monday and Tuesday. Wednesday is my weekly deadline for publishing. 22 October Tuesday Apple announced a refresh to their line of laptop and desktop computers; if I wasn't editing, or waiting for my 2008-era MacBook Pro to finish rendering or quavering, I was researching the computer I want to buy.

Future Computering

Since 2001 or maybe before, I've been a laptop carrier. I've bought desktop computers, mostly for games or deep geeking. But all my film editing has taken place on laptops. I love the idea of being able to make media happen wherever I appear. Like editing free beer film in Brazil! Or reading spam in rural Japan!

At the same time, since my web sharin' bus trip of 1996, I have had sore wrists. I'm now an ergonomics primadonna, so I avoid extensive work away from a well-arranged desk situation. I can't hunch over a laptop on a plane or a cafe for long before my body screams at me!

After last week, when I tried to use Motion to make special graphics and my 2008-era computer just wept silently, I realized I want to experiment with a healthy load of computer power. Ilyse is fond of pointing out that any computer from 2013 would be a huge improvement over my current system.

The new 2013 Apple Mac Pro is a sexy cylindrical beast of a new desktop computer, optimized for Final Cut Pro X. But it's at least five or six weeks away, and that's five or six videos I intend to make. I'm in a hurry to accelerate serendipity! And each day I touch my computer I twitch unhappily through extensive downtime.

Plus the Mac Pro starts around $3000 before I even add anything. I'm without income since I left work at DeNA, so I'm wanting to make these dollars I have go far for what I need nowish. If I start working with higher-than-high definition 4K-type footage, and I need moar cores in my compooper, I'll sell my iMac and buying something else.

I left behind the laptop idea, and began looking at the iMac (thanks Taylor). From what I read, I'll be able to make more advanced videos, I'll be able to screw around with Motion graphics so I can resemble a sports team perhaps, I'd be able to experiment with some Unity and PhoneGap programming. MAYBE ALL AT ONCE -

Recently I've been reconsidering my avoidance of caffeine; I'm excited to see what I might make when I'm chemically stimulated that way. But I'm waiting to get a new computer before I try black tea here at home.

What I Used

I leaned on the Know Your Meme archives; you can find Know Your Meme videos on YouTube. I used Know Your Meme: All Your Base Are Belong To Us, Know Your Meme: Phonetic Translations
Know Your Meme: Christian Bale Rant
Know Your Meme: Boxxy
Know Your Meme: Advice Dog
Know Your Meme: Three Wolf Moon

All my music came from Free Music Archive, specifically the dublab: Bonus Beat Blast 2011 which has been supplying much of my October videowork. Gracias!

1000 Names - Beat of Today
Sahy Uhns - Lazy Sumday
Sahy Uhns - Uh Hmmm...
Wake - Glytch Funk

Plus I tossed in some Prince's Orchestra - On A Christmas Morning; I love their eager [now] comedic sound.

OrangeHD supplies me with my timelapse clouds and sky. Woo hoo! This film used Clouds 23 timelapse. The Clouds in Space came from ?? at Footage Island. The Roulette Wheel and footage of Aerial San Francisco came from - they aim to upsell HD footage, but the standard definition footage is all free, thank you very much.

I grabbed a few frames from this short promo piece on by a moving company: Innovators on the Move: Casey & Jamie from Unpakt.

Jamie plugs Duncan Watts as a strong internet researcher; I used a picture from Duncan Watts on Wikipedia, taken by Doc Searls.

At one point Jamie says the internet allows a boy from Arizona to meet people from around the world. I wanted a range of faces to show; I found them searching YouTube for Creative-Commons licensed footage under "faces." I'm not sure I knew YouTube had a Creative Commons search built in! Well they do, and I used it.

Here are the faces I found: Faces of Borsec by LaptopHooligansKMF9 - U-Kiss - Exclusive Interview by koreanmusicfestival, faces by Leonardo Rinaldo Ferri and b+c Faces of Nigeria 2013 by beautyandcoragem.

The "Arizona" themed footage came from The Walk Across Arizona (Full Length) by TArwood Media - the result of a successful kickstarter now available for sale here.

Three stars of YouTube illustrate Jamie's discussion of probability and video fame: Evolution of Dance - By Judson Laipply, "Chocolate Rain" Original Song by Tay Zonday and Susan Boyle - Britains Got Talent 2009 Episode 1 - Saturday 11th April by UKAdvertChannel.

I was looking for network visualizations that would be free to use; best I found was "Network 1" (2008) by Casey Reas, from bitforms gallery on

I'm epically grateful for people who post re-usable media material online, so I like to list them out here. Plus I figure linking to them might help other videomakers find stuff fast. Finally, I think it's probably good for search engine traffic, so this writeup might catch someone's attention searching for Prince's Orchestra or who knows what combination. The more thorougly I write out my video bibliography, the more likely it is to be found, right? Attribution - everyone wins :-)

Personal Pantheon

Who inspires us, sitting in our Personal Pantheon? How do we honor human lives we reflect upon? Experimental Evangelist Justin Hall herein shares a few of the figures in his Personal Pantheon, along with an apparatus for the honoring thereof. Deeper context awaits you here:

Last year I was having fun painting small canvases. Separately I began considering what kind of altar I would make for myself, and how I would incorporate my deities - the beings I referred to for guidance. Here is a video detailing my first draft Personal Pantheon:

Find this video posted across half the known web:

  • Personal Pantheon on Flickr
  • Personal Pantheon on YouTube
  • Personal Pantheon on Vimeo
  • Personal Pantheon on Facebook

    My Personal Pantheon

    My personal pantheon described in this film includes a number of folks, and it's still evolving. Here's the folks I included in this round:

    Clarence Darrow
    Tallulah Bankhead
    Art Tatum
    Howard Rheingold
    Joan Hall
    Jimi Hendrix
    Duke Ellington

    Frank Moore R.I.P.
    Muhammad Ali
    Molly Ivins
    Cory Doctorow
    Perry Farrell
    Tim Berners-Lee
    Willie McTell

    Process Notes

    Looking over a few of my earlier experiences, I realized I want more sizzlacious text up next to the video online. I want the title and first two sentences to grab someone's attention - here I open with the question.

    Folks have been asking if I'm working from a script:

    I start with a theme. Sometimes I storyboard the theme, or outline major beats I want to hit. I pick an outfit, set up the camera, and talk for about 8 minutes. I go to my computer and I cut that up. I see what points are missing, or poorly stated, and I go re-shoot. Sometimes I get my material in one take. This video took eight or so takes - including a few wherein I forgot to turn on the microphone so they had to be shot again :-P

    The first footage seemed too low energy to me, so I reshot some stuff feeling more amped up. I watched that and felt like I was shouting at myself so I went with the more mellow footage for most things. My hair is more flat for the footage that seemed almost too intense for me; my hair was fluffier for the first take.

    After my first video Jake Lodwick strongly suggested I go with single outfits for each single subject video. I hear that feedback; I want to focus the distractions I offer. In this video, I put the credits up next to some outtakes of an experiment I did with a full body green screen suit. Watching the final cut I realize most folks will only focus on one of two things: the scrolling text titles or the guy in the suit waving wooden tiles. I could say that this video rewards repeat viewing. I could also say that I am double plus super eager to get a new computer; this laptop is from 2008 and I think I will have more opportunities for articulate madness with faster hardware. Go Apple Go, please.

    Some friends have pointed out that I might improve the quality of my footage by upgrading my camera. I'm using a 2006-era 4 megapixel consumer camera the Sony HDR-SR1 - Sony's first hard drive digital camcorder. 30 GB of storage!

    Blurry footage quality doesn't bother me nearly as much as my limping computer. Layers!!! I want to have many layers!!!! So first I upgrade my mindbox, and then, after a few more weeks of this I should have a better sense of what other equipment I can justify involving in this knavery.


    This time editing in Final Cut Pro X, I logged my footage with keywords for the first time. It was a good discipline that lead to easy finding clips later. I drew out my name on an iPad, using ProCreate, and exported that into Dropbox to inhale into FCPx. I purchased a full body green screen suit and used that whilst holding the tiles and tile rack, sort of puppeteering.

    I tried using Motion to make something like these puffy 3D letters but this text effect just absolutely killed my computer. So motion graphics will wait a few weeks yet.

    I cut the footage to form new sentences or remove my most ponderous pauses, especially when I can cover up my stuttering facial expressions with b-roll or transitions. Since I'm editing myself I don't feel there's anything dishonest, though while I practice this art, I see how edited video could make anybody say anything.

    Between ZDTV, Home Page and collaboration with Ryan Junell, I have enough video experience to hear myself sometimes and realize when something can be better stated. So I'll do multiple takes while the camera is rolling. I bought a remote control for my camera off eBay; now my old video camera obeys me at a distance.

    I found some teleprompter software for the iPad. But I seldom wear contact lenses during my days working at home, so, blind I haven't been able to try it yet (I remove my glasses right before filming so even at 266 size font I can't read it a few feet away).

    As I described in my last video, I'm making a series of videos to "accelerate serendipity." Since I don't expect to make money off these, that frees me to cross-post anywhere that people might see me yakking, where we might connect and collaborate. This means maintaining identities and attention streams on Flickr, YouTube, Vimeo and Facebook. Not sure if this video identity splaying is a good idea; I intend to let you know.

    Music - All Available Free Online!

    "Dalai Lama's Healing Mantra" by Hein Braat

    "EastMinster" by Kevin MacLeod

    "Anville Chorus" (1942) by Les Brown & His Band of Renoun

    "Whispering Through" by Asura


    Cory Doctorow by Aleksi Aaltonen

    Crowd photo by James Cridland

    Detail from "Detroit Industry Murals" by Diego Rivera; photo by Gabrielle Pescador

    Images otherwise sourced from online sources especially Wikipedia. Woo hoo for Wikipedia!


    Rotating column from Footage Island
    Sky lightning from

    our future

    As long as my mousing hands have strength, I look forward to updating here. Another video in progress for next week! After a little bit of Grand Theft Auto V :-D

  • Accelerating Serendipity

    I am using video to accelerate serendipity! I didn't plan my career so far; now I'm engineering conversation and self-presentation to help me find my next cause or undertaking. This video explains that I don't have an answer for "what am I doing with my life" - I only have a method to ask the question. And you are a part of the method! Thank you for watching!

    Acclerating Serendipity: Youtube, Facebook or Flickr.

    This is the first of my weekly videos that started with storyboards. It's also the first video of this series with multicam-syncing: I shot this episode with my 4 megapixel Sony HDR-SR1 video camera, and shot the scene with my 8 megapixel iPhone5 - then synced 'em together so you can see how my greenscreen setup looks in action. I think I'm getting better with these tools! My computer is 5 years old; I'm hoping that a new computer later this year will make me appear to be more skilled in video production. Right now I can't have a web browser open while I'm running Final Cut Pro X to edit videos, so that makes research and clip-gathering a bit slow. It forces me to be disciplined about multitasking and work on the basics of storytelling in moving pictures!

    My first few videos I posted on YouTube. I allowed some of those videos to show ads, and I made 78¢ in my first full month. I realized that's not a realistic income, and I realized my priority is connecting with people. So now I'm posting these videos to YouTube, to a "Justin Links" page on Facebook, to Flickr - anywhere I can upload and keep track of the people viewing, so I can get a sense of which videos strike a chord with folks. I could spend a lot of my time marketing my videos after I make them; I prefer to spend my time these days making one video after another. I figure a growing body of evolving work will attract the kind of attention I want - people to collaborate with to make something great. Don't know what - but I already recorded my next video about a little art project I'm working on. Everything could lead to something larger! Talking with your neighbor could lead to a block party! Let's see what kind of serendipity I can engineer here for myself this fall and winter 2013.

    Besides making videos, I am cleaning my house. Now that I'm home all day, I don't like to see dishes in the sink. My back is still bothering me a bit (vigorous weekend dancing probably didn't help the healing), so I'm taking it easy.

    Hello Weekly Videos; Goodbye Bernie

    Starting back in September, I'm publishing a new short video online each week. You can find them on my web site, thank you very much, or you can find them on all matter of other social outlets.

    This weeks video says hello to weekly videos, and goodbye to Bernie Sahlins. Instead of my home green screen, I filmed this video off a computer camera in Chicago, where I was visiting my Mom, my 20th High School reunion, and attending Bernie's memorial service.


    Bernie Sahlins was friends with my stepfather George from a young age, growing up on the West Side of Chicago. The two of them knew each other for decades. I saw Bernie a few times a year due to that relationship. Bernie told me a few of my favorite jokes and he asked me difficult questions, either about how good my art practice was, or how I was going to make money from what I was doing.

    Bernie was passionate about the arts; he co-founded Second City, a legendary improvisational theater company that gave many talented comedians their first gig. Bernie's got a writeup on Wikipedia.

    Here's a 6 minute video of Bernie giving a commencement address at Columbia College in 2006, including his fun diction and art ethics, plus coverage of an unintelligible William Faulkner:

    The memorial service featured speeches by a number of people who teach, or are professionally funny, or both. I laughed and I cried. Amongst Bernie's saluted traits was his consistent messy eating: someone said "Bernie was the only guy I knew who could eat a hot dog and get mustard on his back."

    I'll miss Bernie, it's sad to see another one of George's generation of lively friends pass away. I'm grateful Bernie lived so long and that I was able to know him.

    Weekly Videos??

    I'm making one video a week for 2013 - as Bernie suggested in his speech, if you're an artist, make art. I'm not sure what I am, so I'm making something!

    My latest video is posted on YouTube: Hello Weekly Videos; Goodbye Bernie

    And I posted this video on Flickr too. I'm experimenting with the many online networks that offer to host video - last week I uploaded my "a Painfull Storie" video to Facebook. Many people reported seeing it, but Facebook doesn't give you any stats on the number of viewers. YouTube has made me accustomed to stats!

    As I put out a video each week, I want to experiment with both distribution and production. Each week I experiment with a new aspect of Final Cut Pro X. This is the first video where I did color matching, based on what I learned from Ken Stone's free eBook series about Final Cut Pro X. Instead of my paper notebook, I used Markers to create to-do moments throughout the piece as I edited - that I also learned from Ken Stone's eBook series. Finally, I corrected my sound a bit, guided by Larry Jordan's article FCP X: Enhancing Audio.

    Thanks to Jalen Warshawsky for his song "Dollar Theatre" and Rod Hamilton for his song "Gato" off his album Teal - both of which are hosted on

    The record scratch sound effect came from Luffy, on

    As I have time to myself, and some money saved up to last me a few months, I look forward to the discipline of weekly videos to anchor whatever else I work on. I got a few months until 2014 when I need to start figuring out "what next" like for real.

    Silk Road busted - a quick overview

    The founder of Silk Road, a marketplace for illicit goods, was busted today in San Francisco. I published a Silk Road Shutdown overview in the legal section of my web site. First time posting an article there in maybe over a decade! Whew.

    a Painfull Storie

    I am on an extended leave of absence from routine employment. So I create my own deadlines to keep me moving through my creative goals. My goal now: a new video posted each week, by Wednesday. More videos per week if I can manage!

    Two things are slowing down my video production nowadays:

    1: my 2008-era MacBook Pro. I will upgrade when Apple releases their next models, which I pray will be October 2013.

    2: my sore back

    My sore back is the topic of my video this week - experimenting with more technique in Final Cut Pro X to improve the looks and flow of my video.

    A Painfull Storie, on YouTube:

    Fortunately I find myself embarrassed by the videos I made just two weeks ago so that means I must be improving, right?

    I found tons of free footage online - thanks to OrangeHD, Footage Island, Alex Free Stock Video, Phil Fried,, and BroBryce on YouTube. As usual, my music is free from the Internet Archive.

    BTW - my back is getting better each day; I've got exercises from my doctor :-) Soon I hope I won't have a sore back to explain my recent slothful online oversharing!

    This Just In from Burning Man

    I made another video! It's about Burning Man - my sixth trip to that art party in the Nevada Desert.

    YouTube: This Just In from Burning Man:

    I posted it a few days ago and then updated my web site here. I guess if you were subscribed to my YouTube channel you would already know. Or Twitter or Facebook or something. Man there's a lot of ways we can touch each other online!

    And someone asked for my old Burning Man stories - there's a few.

    Video Impermanence

    I made another video! It's about Impermanence.

    Catch it now on YouTube: Impermanence: A Green Screen video

    I was delighted to find so many folks providing free video resources online - 3D models, green screened paper airplanes, backgrounds of the galaxy or sunsets. Hurrah for generous creators!

    Now I leave for 10 days offline at Burning Man. I return in September, and I plan to


    Accounting for Unemployed Time

    I've had roughly 5 weeks of unemployed time since I started my sabbatical. What have I done?

    Traveled for 3 weeks with my Mom in Scandinavia - photos here on Flickr.
    Read a ton of Scandinavian crime fiction (turns out it's easy to read lots of novels if you stop reading periodicals!)

    Relaunched my 9-years-dormant personal sex blog at
    Launched a sex-themed Twitter account @justsexin

    Practiced the piano! Did some chin-ups! Finished an electric belt from an Adafruit kit!

    All this is described in my latest home green screen video:

    Accounting for Unemployed Time; July-August 2013 Green Screen -

    Now I leave for 10 days. I'm taking Amtrak from San Francisco to Lincoln, to visit my Uncle Jim and Aunt Lori there. It's a two day trip, I'll enjoy the observation car to see the American West!

    Then from Lincoln to Chicago for one night, then on to Detroit. It's my first time visiting that town. My girlfriend Ilyse has been there all summer, exploring the potential for urban recreation. Earlier this summer, she took the train from San Francisco to Detroit and made it sound like a good idea, so I'm following in her footsteps and ending up in her hometown. I'm excited to see what art communities she has found there, and I'm curious to see what Detroit feels like today as people there re-interpret what that city means. San Francisco currently feels like a wild boom town; I sometimes wonder what SF would feel like if suddenly most people decided to live somewhere else. Nothing lasts forever - Detroit could be a good preview of civilization's non-linear progress.

    Then back for a few days before heading to Burning Man, an arts festival in the Nevada desert. I'll be camping with a group called Green Home near 4pm and G - maybe I'll see you there!

    September I return, for more making of things and sharing whatever we have here together!

    Reading so many books? No news!

    I showed my sister my recent list of mystery novels I'd read and she asked how I managed to read about 14 books in three weeks while being on a full-time sightseeing vacation.

    ¡¡¡¡Easy Answer!!!!

    I eliminated news and periodicals from my media diet. I didn't read or listen to the Economist cover to cover, as I usually do. I didn't load the New York Times app several times a day to see what the news was.

    In fact, I took my "Newsstand" app on my iPhone, and I moved it off the front screen. Instead I put my Kindle e-reader app there, alongside a painting app, an i Ching app, social networks, photo albums and a camera app. So when I opened my phone, by default, my choices were "read a book, draw a picture, consult the sages, check in on friends, take a photo or look at photos."

    I didn't know the details of the plane crash in San Francisco, nor did I keep up with the clash between the Egyptian army and the Muslim Brotherhood! These are stories I would have been fascinated by when I was on my regular news diet.

    Instead I read mystery novels at every spare moment. It was engrossing fun, and now that I'm back from my trip, I've slowed down on mystery novels a wee bit, but I haven't gone back to reading the news. Somehow maybe when I was working a daily job, keeping up on the sagas of leaders and the newest pending collapse of our society was appealing. I enjoyed being highly literate about the state of cross-oceanic trade pacts or the latest twist in the Euro saga. Will Italians actually allow Berlusconi to somehow have formal political office again??

    There are some hilarious, engrossing aspects to the news. But novels are great too! Which is a better use of my time? Never-ending twists and turns of conemporary human endeavor, or procedural crime dramas?? Maybe in a few weeks I'll choose another focus for my media consumption - it's nice to be specific about where I put my media attention.

    Scandinavian crime fiction: a vetted human pleasure

    I'm just coming down off a serious travel experience. Not adverse like a twelve hour canoe trip, instead a pleasurable immersion of weeks in a safer situation: Scandinavia! My Mom had never been to Sweden, Norway and Denmark. I'd been some to each; I was excited to enjoy the trip and time with her.

    Justin and Joan in front of Copenhagen City Hall

    As the plane left San Francisco on 29 June arcing into 3 weeks of near perpetual daylight, I threw the I Ching asking "how should I think about my three week trip to Scandinavia with my Mom in July 2013?" The reply was a single unchanging hexagram: #12 Stagnation. Basically, nothin is happening in a constructive way. My talents are at best ignored and otherwise perhaps misdirected and mistaken. RL Wing's advice: "withdraw."

    So, I withdrew into vacation! I did everything our travel agent lined up for us - our jam-packed schedule of tours and attractions. I assisted and complied with my Mom and her passion for timely schedules. I took in the sights, taking some light photographs and video with my mobile devices. And, in between I went on a fiction reading binge.

    Joan takes a picture of a mountain gorge near Stalheim Norway

    I started with Pagan Passions by Randall Garrett & Laurence Mark Janifer - a science fiction story about the return of the Greek Gods that I found on a free e-Book archive. Amusing and brief.

    Then I delved into fiction associated with this area: I had heard there was such a thing as "Scandinavian crime fiction" so I started my search for something Norwegian to read while I was in Norway:

    I started with Thomas Enger: books Burned and then Pierced. Fire sat at the core of the protagonist Henning Juul's personal tragedy - seems fitting for a Norwegian fiction series. So much fire in that country's past! The downside of ready access to quality lumber: a likely explanation for Norway's dearth of fewer historical structures, compared to the stone edifices scattered throughout Denmark and Sweden. I enjoyed that thoroughly and was frustrated to discover the third novel won't be out in English for a while to come.

    Lists of Scandinavian fiction frequently include Jo Nesbø. I read the first in his Harry Hole series of detective novels: The Bat. I was turned off by the jocular, alcoholic-hulk hero here, and the Australian setting wasn't what I was looking for. Though Nesbo's Norwegian hero did have some provocative remarks about his home country:

    Harry talked... about the country to the north that saw itself as enterprising and forward-looking, but seemed more like a banana republic. Which had forests and harbors when the Dutch and English needed timber, which had waterfalls when electricity was invented and which, best of all, discovered oil outside its front door.

    "We've never made Volvo cars or Tuborg beer," Harry said. "We've just exported our nature and avoided thinking."

    Mom amidst the amazing scenery in Ørsta Norway

    Anne Holt interested me as a former policewoman and minister of justice turned writer. I tore through her books Blind Goddess, Blessed are Those Who Thirst, Death of the Demon. Good mysteries, well-drawn characters, compelling drama. Her Norwegian setting meant that I had some ready vide of the city's big plazas, famous streets, festivals and highways overlaid with police response. The pleasant summer tourism crackled with electric potential: for both suffering and the redress of grievances.

    Holt's books were written in the 1990s, so characters are just beginning to use desktop computers in police work, and the protagonist's lesbianism is a controversy. So these books are dated perhaps, but not unpleasant or irrelevant; more a fascinating, heartening reminder of how far we may have come in just a few decades.

    Shipgoers in the viewing lounge

    Dregs by Jorn Lier Horst wrapped up my Norwegian reading series, as I headed into a week in Sweden: fascinating to see from the genre that police-media convergence was common in these books. Having been a journalist, it's ennobling to read how our work might solve mysteries and right wrongs. But also stir up danger and irritate people.

    Heading from Norway to Sweden, I took up Steig Larsson's thrilling Millennium trilogy: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl who Played with Fire, The Girl who kicked the Hornet's Nest. These three books were ubiquitous between film and television and bestseller lists a few years back; I purchased the three while I was high on painkillers sleeping in a recliner but I waited to read the three until I could plow through them at once. I was glad I waited to to be meeting Lizbeth and Mikael while I was in Sodermalm and Ostermalm and riding down the E4. There are "Millennium" tours of Stockholm, to show you the buildings that the different protagonists are said to live in. I skipped that, but learned vaguely which neighborhoods were which - as I appreciated the 20 hours of daylight I could leverage to keep pace with the story on my eBook reader.

    In 2001? I came to Stockholm to visit my friends at a group house called DemonBox. One night the Demonbox community did some reverse gender programming: women went into the basement and wrestled each other, while we males met sat together giving each other foot massages and talking about our mothers. The idealism and commitment to gender awareness and equity there struck me at that time; reading Steig Larsson reminded me of that - perhaps Scandinavian - passion to actively evolve our approach to social architecture.

    Larsson's series is filled with an urgent indignant aversion to organized hate, casual prejudice and institutional privilege. As the protagonist Blomqvist says late in the series: "When it comes down to it, this story is not primarily about spies and secret government agencies; it's about violence against women, and the men who enable it." The fact that so many people have read the books and seen the movies is a fascinating dissemination of Larsson's views. My Swedish friends said he worked on an anti-racist newspaper; the novels had a far-wider reach and readership.

    Crazy lively sculptures by Gustav Vigeland statue in Frogner Park Oslo Norway

    Then on Svante's recommendation I read Misterioso by Arne Dahl - named after a Thelonious Monk song and concerned with the fallout from recent large-scale economic crimes. Good swift reading, saddened only to see that the next book in the series won't be out in English for some time to come. Reading foreign fiction series often ends in sad waiting for translation.

    Hungry for still more Swedish crime fiction, I took up Faceless Killers by Henning Makell which was based in rural Sweden. As is my won't, I selected the next book in the series: The Dogs of Riga which explored the relationship between Sweden and Eastern Europe around the time of fall of communism. I went on to read more Henning Mankell books as I flew back to San Francisco, woke up for the first day of my sabbatical and began my funemployment.

    Danish High School Students Cheer during Graduation Ritual Truck Drives around Copenhagen

    A month ago I hadn't read a single work of Scandinavian Crime Fiction. Now I've read fifteen books by seven authors. Besides giving the landscape some context, crime fiction dramatizes issues these folks are wrestling with. Who is Scandinavian? How can immigrants be integrated in a well-ordered society? How should World War II profiteers be treated? What does gender equality actually feel like in the workplace? How do alternative modes of sexuality challenge people? What unease and chaos lurks beneath smooth scandinavian design, a generous welfare state, and historic native ethnic homogeneity?

    Christian IV imitating humility before a cherubim

    Sitting in a Rorbu near Solvær above the arctic circle, sipping on internet on my mobile phone, I discovered - a community dedicated to parsing these books and issues together for English speakers. I was glad to find them. Maybe I've found a genre and writers I will enjoy for years to come. Or maybe I will switch to books that will give me new context on new frontiers.

    I remember seeing my father sitting up in to the ice-has-melted point past midnight when his spy or crime novel was soon to be finished and placed on the burgeoning shelf above him. Since he died when I was young I didn't exactly trace out how his reading of mystery fiction exercised his big brain. It would be enough to call it pleasure, of course. But drinking can also be seen as a pleasure, and he took that seriously.

    So approaching middle age myself now, seeing myself tear through crime novels at a hastened clip, perhaps I become more like my father, still mostly sans booze. Or maybe I'm a human - many of these books are best sellers: Scandinavian crime fiction is a vetted human pleasure.

    Summer 2013: Sabbatical Time

    I am taking a sabbatical from my work! Three months of unpaid leave starts Monday July 1!

    What does this mean? I would write a meaningful essay, filled with poignant yet discomfiting detail. I could post photographs of me at my job, next to a photograph of me standing with a question mark over my head.

    Instead, I put together a video about this transition time!! It leverages the greenscreen technology I have been fooling around with in June, hopefully to greater effect.

    Please to watch Summer 2013: Sabbatical Time on YouTube: Sucks - Let's get a Green Screen!

    Sorry that sucks lately. By suck I mean "not provide a useful and overwhelming Justin experience."

    To remedy this some, and to amuse myself, I have purchased a home green screen kit and borrowed some lights from my friend Howard. I set up a little studio in my basement. I put my iPhone on a tripod, attached a bike helmet mirror, and positioned myself in front of a large green curtain.

    And I filmed myself! I tested it all out! 15 June 2013 - I recorded myself talking and then moving around. It's definitely amateur hour. AHAHAHAHA and it doth amuse me mightily!

    I was so focused on getting the basics of greenscreen recording working, I hadn't planned any acting or background footage. Since the footage can be worked into anything, I figured I would upload the source to see if someone might surprise me.

    download the raw

    Here is the download for raw greenscreen footage to play with - hosted on Vimeo.

    If you make anything with footage of me jerking around in front of a greenscreen, email me so I can re-share!

    first cut

    Green Screen Test: Just In Britton South Dakota, 1938 - hosted on YouTube:

    The Internet Archives has piles of free video clips. I foundfootage of people from Britton, South Dakota in 1938 in the most-excellent Prelinger Archive. The nineteen minute clip Amateur films: Ivan Besse collection: Britton, South Dakota 1938-39] (Part I) (1938) contains footage of street scenes where I might stand amidst people, sort of.

    Thanks to Howard Rheingold for the lights - he has extensive home filming experience from his Rheingold U video classes on mindful internet use.

    what now??

    I look forward to recording and playing more with layered video!

    See you on a screen.


    I spent last week at the Game Developers Conference. I've been going to that lovable mix of game developers for over a decade. I was honored to speak there again this year, moderating a Game Design Curriculum Deathmatch. And, for the first time in my GDC-history, I was part of a booth at the career pavilion. With my recruiter-colleagues from DeNA, I met dozens of aspiring game developers, artists, product managers, executives, engineers and more - all folks looking to see if their careers aligned with this mobile games company.

    After a week of that hustle-bustle and chit-chat, I am completely wiped. I'm feeling profoundly anti-social, awkward around other folks. Eager to mostly be at home, alone, in my head with my media tools and games (Bioshock Infinite 360, and on mobile: Heroes & Havoc, Motor World Car Factory, Flutter chiefly).

    My friend Miju mentioned that she feels like an "ambivert" - someone both introverted and extroverted. I like that word to describe my social flipflop of the last week! I put together a brief video on this topic:

    I learned from my last experiment - I purchased a cheap microphone and adapter to use with my iPhone. After a few false starts today, I also just purchased a flexible mirror to position on my tripod so I can line up a better mise en scène.

    My friend Ben has been pushing me to make more videos, so I'm experimenting more with short form, mobile shot, mobile edited, mobile uploaded production. This is another one!

    writing, and talking and VIDEOINGGG

    I like writing! Judging from these pages and the 58k words I have in an ongoing "personal memoir" project, one might imagine I have diarrhea of the fingers.

    But I also like talking! Not just public speaking, but also making videos. This video of speaking to my high school alumni association was good, inspiring fun. So I've been thinking to make some videos fast, from home. Record using my iPhone, edit with mobile iMovie, post to YouTube - move fast, keep things short. Like this footage of this sick man.

    Here's today's test:

    I learned I need a mic for good sound! Sound is the key. So I bought adapter and a mic to get some better sound into my mobile phone, and I shall record more videos as long as I live!

    Sick Voice

    I recorded this 1 minute video because I liked the sound of my sick voice. "Will that sun come back tomorrow?"


    What does that word say? "Recruiter" - it reminds me of Evangelist - someone who is going to get people to join their cause. I remember people saying I spoke like an evangelist, and perhaps I was like a web evangelist for a while. But I never found a bible I could speak from for long, before the pages wore thin and I could see real faces on the other side.

    dressed for work, singing karaoke

    Dressed for work, singing karaoke, just as I was becoming a Recruiter. Thanks to my colleague Jeet for this pic!

    So now I'm a recruiter for DeNA - a mobile phone games company has asked me to serve as someone who will help find good folks to work with. As I write on my near three years at this ngmoco:) DeNA company, I am balancing a genetic legacy of curmudgeonly standards against the fast-paced world of digital talent-seeking.

    19 Links

    Nineteen years ago, I first saw the web though a newspaper article and by 27 January 1994, I'd posted my first personal page. It has been a hugely fun adventure that unfolded from that experiment! What happens if I compulsively share my thoughts online? I am grateful for a medium and an audience that I could explain myself to, and it's been fantastic to come to know so many other people through their characters onscreen.

    So each year 27 January is a bit of a second birthday for me, a personal holiday. "Manufactured Justin day" maybe. How to celebrate 19 years old for this Justin's Links? These days I do so much reading on my mobile phone, I realized my old site looked like stale poop on a mobile device. So for the last few weeks, I combed thousands of pages and tweaked them to have decent mobile viewing.

    It looks like about 23% of my visitors today are on mobile. In 2004 I made cartoons and poems on my mobile device, for reading on mobile devices. That was fun, but a bit early.

    How are people finding my pages? Well, I'm the #3 Google search result for Natto, my girlfriend Ilyse discovered. Writing thousands of pages about whatever strikes your fancy for almost two decades throws a big net out over the long tail.

    For this overhaul, I had old versions of softwares running on a 2008 MacBook Pro - BBEdit, terminal windows, Interarchy FTP. Essentially the same tools I was using to make pages in a drafty apartment above "Maelstrom Books" at 572 Valencia in 1994 over a 14.4k dialup modem. Something appropriate about antique tools for this mission.

    mobilzing view
    And ultimately the true power came from Unix - sed and find. Mass search and replace for crusty old hand-coded web pages. I found myself fixing 18 year old typos - for example referring to Jake Baker as Joe Baker. Sorry history. I still have too many pages to fix for mobile and impossible amounts of inaccuracies and misconceptions to discover.

    It begs the question - if I make all these pages more readable in 2013, am I saying these pages are worth reading now? So much of this sprawling web pile is out of date, to my eye - new information has emerged, new feelings about relationships, new sense of self. And many pages are undated, so they appear to be my current thinking! It's embarrassing, frankly, which is a good part of why I leave it up - if this site is embarrassing for me, it must be a bit funny and silly and good to keep me honest. The many many broken outbound links, well, those are just sad. Some day I will be a broken outbound link!!!

    All this time spent tuning old things - fortunately it turns out that 1994-era HTML is pretty readily mobile-readable. Perhaps that's an upside for my curmudgeonly sitting out the Flash/CSS design revolution. I posted a brief tutorial to explain how you too might make simple web pages look halfway decent on mobile phones.

    Sharing the joy of online publishing with folks was a huge motivator in the early days of my web work. These days most people get their web publishing thrills from the likes of Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Blogger, Wordpress, Tumblr or whatnot. So many ways to share online! Hurrah! So I don't labor to teach how-to-HTML so much any more. But I still compulsively write about what I'm learning and experiencing.

    in a hammock in granada, nicaragua
    pictured in a hammock in Granada, Nicaragua December 2012 - thanks Ilyse. I'm still alive!

    My last big lesson posted here was "here's what I learned running an internet gaming startup." This month I'm publishing a draft article on what I learned in 3 years working as "Director of Culture & Communications" at ngmoco:) / DeNA, a mobile social gaming company. For years now I'm working on longer form, somewhat polished writeups of "what else this adultified Justin person has gleaned from his experiences" - death, divorce, love, drugs, the search for spiritual sexuality. Not so much daily publishing on the web like I did for years in my daze but I'm still wearing out my hands.

    So I look forward to posting more stuff on this here web, until I die, that you might read on your mobile device or your computer or whatever they have in the future if it will also read HTMLs!

    mere tweakery

    I spent most of my waking hours so far this weekend combing the thousands of files in this site:

    - standardizing headers and meta information
    - revising formatting
    - fixing broken links and server-side include references

    Our world is dying. We are confused, lurching from joy to sadness. Nothing is permanent. Our deities are delusional or out of reach. So why are you bothering with these trivialities and technical details Justin?!?

    I aim to reveal more in near time, suffice it to say this old site needs some housecleaning that it might remain useful, nay, readable in this pre-modern era.


    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.