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

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Shoveling up

When I've shorn my garments in word and image, posting links and brief excerpts of recent recollections of old dreams seems so translucent by comparison. Anyhow - I was asked by to write an essay about a word that defined 2017 for me, and I chose sovereignty.

They partnered me with a richly illustrated drawing of that word by Sunday Buro. From the American bunting, an eagle with its eyes bound, and my teaser bio reading: "An Unsettling Struggle for Sovereignty: Cannabis entrepreneur Justin Hall reflects on the sacrifices we make for the illusion of freedom." you would think my Sovereignty piece is about America's war on drugs. But it's much more about literally wrestling with my daughter.

It's the first time I've written an "Article" in a good long while and I was flattered to be asked and excited to have a chance to fire up my content production machine and share something again. I believe the article is behind a "paywall" which means the content is not visible unless you participate in the publication ('s efforts to sustain itself financially.

I have mixed feelings about the whole thing - I have become more ambivalent about public sharing. I dwelled in "public sharing" for 18 months up to 2016, before the shit got real weird. Of course at any moment we can look around and marvel at what humanity has made with what it has enabled; so why should we be surprised that social media might actually be a manipulative scourge? Let's find a newer mode of expression upon which we shall project our hopes for perpetual authenticity!

speaking into Internet History podcast

All this writing and video work is a series of small flags I hoist up in the wind.

Brian McCullough wanders the internet looking for old flags, and then he puts a microphone in front of the wind.

I was grateful to be included in his Internet History Podcast: the "First" Blogger, Justin Hall. The whole episode runs 1 hour 44 minutes so that's bastante talking.

There are few pages on this personal web site more potentially unsettling than catdick. See? I didn't even link it. You can find it if you like. I'll tell you now, there's not a whole lot posted there about lipstick.

So you can imagine my bemused surprise when I received this note:

In the 1990s, I got comments from other weird people; now I get comments from weird algorithms. This kind of solicitation for "please post a link on your site" is the bulk of email I receive these days in response to these rangy pages I've written! What a wild shift of human attention flows. Twenty years ago I wanted to see more people online; now I have more machine intelligences online probing my internet orifices.

Sometimes I feel antagonized by the impersonality of these solicitations. I reply "unsubscribe" to silence.

Other times I try to play with them, "Sounds great - let's collaborate on more articles like the one you found on my web site! Please review content and suggest how we might work together." Perhaps I'm fantasizing that some understimulated human bot-jockey will see my atypical response and be inspired to collaborate on some wild network poetry. I actually had one person reply "yes!!" and say she would ask her company if they could somehow work with to make weird stuff, but that didn't go anywhere.

Ultimately thus far it's not been so fun to argue with robots - they aren't easily baited beyond their quite-limited scope of profit-seeking. So I just get daily emails akin to this one, with no way to filter, and no sign that any human actually thought catdick might help sell lipstick clicks.

23 years on, before becoming a father

This entry is published on Monday, 23 January 2017. 23 years ago, Sunday 23 January 1994, I created a web page that looked like this and soon called it "Justin's Links from the Underground" as I publicly unearthed moist spots beneath rocks online.

My goal was to mess around with technology and permanence. What does it mean to share something of yourself with the world? Who will see it, interact with it and care about it? Blah blah blah - this is a subject I can't stay away from. I published a 40 minute documentary on these topics in August 2015, looking back at 20 years of personal online publishing: "overshare: the story" available free on the internet.

Two months later, I was scheduled to get married to Ilyse on October 10 2015. On October 3, we discovered that our birth control methodology had not forestalled the advent of a viable embryo. We were about to be married, and about to be parents.

In April 2016 I turned a mobile phone camera on myself as I mused over this situation, and evinced some of my wrestling with pending fatherhood. I have been working to look critically at my motivations for parenthood, so I can adapt my own dadrole desires to respect & support whatever little person emerges from that situation, and to continue to support my partner in this adventure.

The baby was born in June 2016, and it's been pretty quiet around and By January 2017, I'm updating this same 23-year-old web site with some personal content, except I'm a father. I've extended my life into another being. How can I make media about my experience of existence, and responsibly include my children?

Here's one attempt:

"before becoming a father" YouTube

"before becoming a father" Facebook

I filmed this video in one take on April 5 2016. I had on a stained shirt and some sweatpants. I realized how slovenly I looked as I started filming, but I felt committed to the moment so I proceeded to film. Then in January 2017, as my child turned seven months and the new year passed, I felt a strong desire to speak to my early parenthood experience. So I scripted and read-aloud another monologue over a blank FCPx timeline. That wasn't quite compelling, so I started poking through my archives. Found this footage from eight months earlier, sliced it a bit, and here we are.

Special thanks to Switzon S. Wigfall III for posting free VJ loop videos for remixing.

23 years later, I enjoy wrestling with media technology and personal storytelling! Perhaps this site could be seen as a sort of child. But it is not independent, it doesn't have any touch with the world these days save me. Comments are turned off on this weblog; there's not really a handle for participation. is a rock I visit a few times a year with a chisel. Except the rock is as sturdy as toilet paper and perhaps the chisel is my butt.

To upfrequent my updates here, I would consider publishing the scraps and notes and scores of micro-moments I've already inscribed. But I want to keep my focus on video storytelling, so for now, I'm saving my fathery feelings for future oral histories. Thank you for somehow ending up on this old web site! And seeing what one guy had to say, a guy that seems ever-older than the lad who foisted this thing online. What miracles.

Thanksgiving 2016

Here's my Thanksgiving grace for 2016; an attempt to reconcile a recent dramatic showdown of two political cultures in the United States:

We are here now together
sitting at a flat surface
perched atop a round earth

it sounds precarious
in the abstract
but these hands feel solid

sometimes its nice to gather someplace flat
since it's not easy to see
and hear each other
on a far distant face of a sphere

for thousands of years
the grinding clash of human civilizations has spelled
a bounty for some, diminishment for others

somehow we here have emerged with autonomy

we join
people all over our northern hemisphere
around this time
celebrating harvest
in our own ways

let's each bring something
to this table
a vision for what we can honor and celebrate
in this changing world

today we practice gratitude.
gratitude for
this precious water drop hanging in space
the dead trees holding up our butts and our plates
the fowl beasts and flora that feed us today
and the people who enacted this whole situation

We don't always see who made
any of this possible;
most of them are dead before us

Our choices for our land and society
leave open fields or dark alleys for future folks
like blessed little Delia and beyond

how can we honor the passed away
and the unborn?
how can we give thanks in a complex world?

today we shall hold hands for a moment
take a breath
and practice a balancing of the flat on the round



Your leaders have no firm knowledge of the future.
What do they know?
They are probably men, they are probably older than you,
and they may know business.
What is business?
Buying what you need and selling what you can.

How do you succeed in business?
I don't know.
Nothing is successful forever.
But humans like novelty.
And many humans like other humans.

Let's put our business
in service of humans.
What does that mean?
I'm not sure.
You can ask your leaders.

You could also make up an idea for yourself
and use your job at Digital Garage
to experiment with your idea
for business in service of humans.

Thank you for experimenting with me.