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

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justin @ hotwired


In June of '94, after months of plugging, I became a card carrying member of their digital revolution, securing an internship in the online division of Wired magazine.

grottoid I started work at the original Wired offices on second street - hot, crowded, deskless, built for forty and staffed by over 65.

The office culture was great. Funky young people from various hipster SanFran scenes - music playing, odd visitors and employees alike dropping by with crazy toys. A gray african parrot, Gris Gris, would climb around on my shoulder, but only when someone else put her there.

There were showers and a kitcken; the office had a lived-in feel to it. Many folks were still putting in marathon hours when I arrived, there was always someone there, cranking tunes, face in screen.

If Wired was funky and grungy, Wired Online was the funk-grungiest. We were back in "the Grotto," the least ventilated, most crowded portion of the ramshakle offices. Here, being next to the accounting department meant the never ending dub and hubdub of house music and club tunes - Wired rave headquarters.

I remember talking to some folks working on the magazine as the summer progressed, and sensing a sort of quiet envy. As we began cranking, and German TV crews started streaming in to cover our up and coming "twitching cyberstation," we were the apparent hot property.

In August, Wired Online became HotWired, we moved offices. We'd gone big time - we had a staff of over twenty. I had a desk, a chair and a phone line all to myself.

view from my desk I was gainfully employed as an Editorial Assistant. My typical workday lasted from ten am until one in the morning. I laboured as Howard's assistant, did odd assignments, worked on my page, sent out reflections, and talked to people. Fascinating folk wandered through; my desk was right next to the door, so they had to pass by me first. I met Rebecca that way, as well as various digerati.

The HotWorkers were fascinatin' folk. I remember sitting back, and contemplating Louis making the rounds, thinking of how nice to be president/founder of a company filled with people keyed into your vision - that he can walk from desk to desk and engage engaging people who all respect him or owe him something; to have his pick of like minded conversation in a room.

Somehow I was able to do a bit of the same. My prime positioning, long hours, and lack of clear duties designated me a listener - I was outgoing conversant with many of the staff, transcending the politics which were to fracture the startup.
At night, HotWired was staffed by a few of the more delinquent types. We stayed late, drinking, smoking, listening to loud music, and playing with the computers.

August, we brainstormed.

October was a big month at HotWired. Before we exposed ourselves, I collected predictions. HotWired launched on the 27th, and I threw a HoeDown near Holloween.

During and even after my experience there, I had a few dreams about Wired, or with Wired folk in them.

Howard left in November or December. He had been on a promotional tour for both HotWired and his book for four weeks prior, so it wasn't like his presence was missed around the office. It was a clear signal however, and it was shortly followed by Jonathan's parting.

Both acrimonious. Jonathan initially approached the Wiredlings about a vibrant online space. When it became obvious that there was money in them thar wires, and Jonathan was going to be slow in making it, he was demoted from Publisher to "Information and Technology Architect."

Jonathan brought Howard in on the project. Howard had an expansive view of the web - sprawling sights of specificity and interactive user contributable fun. Too broad, too unfocused for the twitching cyberstation of the planet.

Howard and the editorial staff mucked around a bit after Howard left, hurling accusations of contributor mistreatment and irresponsibility around the Well and private e-mail channels. Jonathan was a never ending stream of dissatisfaction - his web community was now someone else's cash cow.

December 14, I was reprimanded by Louis and I was interviewed in Club Wired.

I left in January, the third employee to jump ship. Within three months, ten other folks had left.

I visited in March of 95, two months after I'd left, as the rubble of the original HotWired was still being cleared.

I was kinda invited to work on projects at HotWired, but I found myself reluctant - I kinda had a specific beef. Now they have dealt with this, I am facing with a more fundamental philosophical divergeance.

top black and white photo by Ed Rigaud.

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