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

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justin @ hotwired

Club Wired Appearance

The folks at HotWired asked me to appear in their Club Wired space on December 14, to chat and answer questions about this page and my web wanderings.
Check out this hype job they did on me - makes me want to meet this guy!

Justin Hall
Wed. 14 December 1994
3:00 P.M. PST

Weaving the Web

What a tangled Web we weave. As corporate America stakes their claim on the Net, and the general population begins to catch on, the Web has become richer, denser, more substantial, and increasingly unnavigable. How do you make the most of your net surfing hours? How do you find what you're looking for? How has the landscape changed over the past year? Justin Hall, HotWired's resident Web-wandering guru offers tips and tricks for finding the Net's best. Hall is the creator and curator of Justin's Links from the Underground, a phenomenally successful Web site featuring pages and pages of great links and original writing. Online since January 1994, Links from the Underground now boasts more than 20,000 hits per day. In his spare time, Hall is an Editorial Assistant at HotWired, and one of these days, he'll return to Swarthmore College, where he will be a wise-beyond-his-years sophomore.

[AMPHITHEATER] june/surfer girl: If anyone has advance questions, you should
     send em on over by hitting /M.
[AMPHITHEATER] june/surfer girl: OK, we're set and ready to go . . 
[AMPHITHEATER] june/surfer girl: As y'all know, Justin is our resident
     web-wandering guru here at HotWired. . 
jimp/mrlunch: goo-roo?
smutqueen/bread box: poo poo
[AMPHITHEATER] june/surfer girl: His site, Links from the underground, now
     gets about 20,000 hits per week. . .
jimp/mrlunch: are those qualified hits?
handi/peppy: i think they are subjective
jonathan/jonathan: how many mics?
[AMPHITHEATER] june/surfer girl: maybe you can start by telling us Justin,
     how long you've been on the Web and how you got turned on to it
handi/peppy: his site is trippin'
matthew/matthew: oh goo-roo, what is the most enlightening web site that you
     have had the pleasure of visiting?
smutqueen/bread box: whippin'
Justin/case: I've been on the web since December of 93, after I read
     Markoff's article in the NYT about the web.
Justin/case: It converted me immediately.  I surfed away, and soon realized
     that most of the efforts I was seeing were amateur stuff - just geeks
     who knew HTML, had servers, and put up pretty useless stuff about
     themselves.  So I decided to join them!
[AMPHITHEATER] june/surfer girl: What are some of the changes you've seen
     take hold? It's gotten bigger, to be sure, but what has that growth
Justin/case: In January of '94 I put up a web page at Swarthmore, with
     personal info, and some favourite links.
smutqueen/bread box: somebody in scotland who thinks he is a girlie...
jimp/mrlunch: girlie
smutqueen/bread box: a girlie man...
smutqueen/bread box: in garters
Justin/case: My first outside access was in early February.  And I started
     getting more and more feedback and hits from that point on.  The more I
     surfed, and the more I had to add, the more I expanded my pages out
     beyond the simple one I started with.
caseyc asks: You have a lot of porn links on you site. . . How do you feel
     about porn on the Web? Good? Bad? Ugly?
Justin/case: Porn is on the web because people think about porn, esp. young
     people, and there are a lot of young people out on the web.  It's
     natural that there be sex on the net.
Justin/case: That said, I think that the porn that has appeared is that porn
     that is so prevalent in society - stuff that will pass by the
     censors and doesn't offend protestant while male sensiblilities
     overmuch.  Translation: blondes with big tits looking like they want
     you to take advantage of them.  Young blondes.
Justin/case: As some of you may have realized, that is not all there is to
     sexuality.  As more and more diverse interests come to be represented
     on the net, my hope is that more and more diverse sexualities will too
     be represented there.  If, that is, the people who feel threatened by
     both honest and deviant sexuality do not prevent open discourse.  That
     is the most important thing!  That is what the powers of the net give
     us too - frank, in your face sexuality - un filtered, to a large
touche asks: Justin, are you readying to return to Swarthmore for the
     upcoming semester? If so, what's going to happen to all those great web
     pages you've set
Justin/case: The web pages will live on, between now and my return I must
     arrange a home for them.  Swarthmore will not accept them, because now,
     as it is, the front page of LfromU alone takes up 40% of the server
     traffic on the student server at Swarthmore.
Justin/case: It's time for me to be my own boss!  Have my own server!  I
     have interactive pages all set up too - PERL scripting and all - but I
     need my own server to set them up!
june asks: What are some of the changes you've seen take hold? It's    
     gotten bigger, to be sure, but what has that growth brought?
Justin/case: Growth has brought slickness.  There used to be so few slick
     sites - places where the graphics and the text all work together in
     commercial/professional symmetry.  Now I see a site like that a day, at
     least.  It ties in with commercialism - that people are improving the
     quality of their pages to keep up with the slick looking
     professionalism of salessites.                                                   
Justin/case: Also, I am happy to report that I see more diversity, but
     somehow it hasn't fleshed itself out yet...  There are too few truly
     alternative sites that come across smoothly.  Maybe that's part of
     being alternative - being jarring.  But somehow, people need to put up
     more coherent content, to keep people from spending all their time in
     the polished hype-malls that are cropping up daily

june asks: as far as the commercialization of the Web goes, have you been please dor disturbed or impressed or angered by anything you've seen? what do you think of all the commerical sites springing up? (I'm a

Justin/case: Commercialization is alright, it pushes the standard higher, and brings more people online. Also, the commercial interests clamboring for digital cash will mean that little 'uns like me can use the technology to make our own way out there.

Club Wired crashes

Justin/case: Commercial intersts have an interesting habit of coopting the spirit of the crowd to which they are targeted. So too with the net. Commercial intersts on the net I have found to be more irreverant and self-referential than in the world. Justin/case: If they didn't act like that, people would think they were pompous and full of shit, I guess. As it is, after a while it begins to come off phony. Justin/case: Cybersight, for example! A site that started up by copying a whole host of my links, and then getting themselves billed as the alternative starting point for net.exploration. They were trying to sell advertisers products throught their web site! They didn't explore or provide you with fresh perspective! They merely found a niche, masked their commercial intent, and jumped right in. touche asks: Justin, if you get your own server, can we expect something akin to Adam Currey's metaverse site? Or will fly in unexpected directions? Justin/case: Adam Curry? His site gets a lot of hits because AT&T and Sprint are there. My site will get a lot of hits because people keep hoping to find Anna Nicole Smith pictures there. Or maybe they're looking for my nekkid editorial assistant photo shoot... Justin/case: Unexpected directions indeed. With my own server, I will begin to publish more of the freaks that I seem to somehow come in contact with with amazing frequency. I want them all on the net! The unpublished rantings of a schitzophrenic, homosexual, venusian channeller! The world needs that stuff! Justin/case: That is the stuff, if out there, could blow a few minds, that would otherwise atrophy in the supermalls of cyberspace. Justin/case: So having my own server would provide for me the opportunity to become a web.publisher of the first order, providing voices and perspectives beyond my own, and thus broadening the scope of cyberspace. Justin/case: And I would publish stuff that most people just don't bother to read, find, edit or publish. I pretty tolerant - I figure, if someone's written it, then someone will want to read it. Of course there will be stuff I will feature over other stuff, but a lot more voices need to be on the web - taking advantage of the pheonomenal publishing potential. touche asks: ...with commercial backing? How to support such an endeavor otherwise? Justin/case: Ahh but you see - all I need to pay for is the net connection. I make enough in my day job to pay for a barely decent one. The server will initially be my old 386/33. That is the web! So few startup costs! Justin/case: As soon as it becomes possible/practical, I am going to have a button on the front page of LfromU asking people to send me $.50 if they like my pages - the NPR/PBS model of donations. With the number of hits I am currently getting, if one out of every twenty people hits that button, then I will have enough to pay all the costs involved. Heck maybe I will then surf the web full time! Maybe not... june asks: Do you have a model in mind for the new, expanded LfU? Justin/case: Interactivity is long overdue. There is a thriving community of net.surfers out there, and there needs to be more interaction between them. Justin/case: I try to revise the structure/look/feel of my pages at least once every two or three weeks. After a while, I may just start over. Tough to say. Once it has been around for a year (in about two months), it will be time for an overhaul. Or maybe just a shift in perspective... Justin/case: As you may be able to tell, if you've been following me between crashes, is that I don't want to just point to other cool sites out there on the web, but I want to play a part in enabling weird, wild and wonderful content to make its way on the web. That's how I want to use my experience, and net.presence. touche asks: ahh, very good. So for 9.95/mo per net connection, we can all become virtual publishers. How extremely cool. Justin/case: Isn't that awesome? You could set up HotWired, if you have the time, and do it all out of a windows box in the corner of your bedroom. The use of IP packets opens up that BBS problem of single lines. Now you can have your own magazine, distribute it to millions, change it on the fly, be responsible to no one, all for the cost of a net connection! What power! What power! Propoganda, writings, journals - a flood is long in coming. june/surfer girl: Let me jsut interject: for newcomers, if you have a web question fro Justin send it to me by hitting /M. . .he can't hear you in cafe wired. . tburke asks: How hard is it to learn HTML programming? And what did you have to do to get Swat to put your page on Raptor? Interested Swarthmore professor is asking the question. Justin/case: HTML is tres facile. It is like using Word Perfect, or Word Star, on an old XT. You work on text files, in SimpleText, or Emacs, or whatever text editor suits you. You insert easy to remember/figure out text codes around whatever text you want to format. -- Logged on channel 01: waxmelt/stupid mop Justin/case: And, you can look at any pages that are out on the web! More power! Anything anybody does that's cool, you can look at it, and see how the hell they did it! All browsers I have seen recently allow you to "view source" - it keeps HTML development very open - no one can use hypertext tricks without sharing them. Justin/case: I published the original version of my pages from my Powerbook 180, out of my dorm room. There was dynamic addressing, so I couldn't turn it off, or I would lose the IP address and I would have to run around my dorm floor getting people to turn their computers on and off till I got the same address again. Justin/case: After a while, I stopped the insanity, and put my pages up on the server the Swarthmore College Computer Society (a student group) has set up for their use.
tburke asks: At some point, doesn't the Web have to go beyond weird and wonderfu l, though? Won't it become just an endless parade of enabled quirkiness? I love NetSurfing from my Swarthmore office, but when I actually -want- something speci fic, it's hell to find.

Club Wired crashes

Justin/time: Yes, the net will have to prove itself as a useful utility for people to find information. And yes, quirkiness and its inherent value does have a limited use, or perhaps just a limited patience level, but... Justin/time: but the sprawl is coming of age - society at large is beginning the move to cyberspace. What is being established now is the information heirarchy, who will be telling you what. If the streams have enough weird stuff in them, people will be able to find a broader humand story online. More people will see more of themselves reflected online, as opposed to simply the latest white male rehash.

Club Wired crashes

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