XOXO 2014

XOXO is a festival celebrating "independent artists using the Internet to make a living doing what they love." What a lovely niche! I had heard of the event for years, I had watched some of the XOXO talks on YouTube. So I was quite honored when one of the two Andys who organizes it reached out to me - they had found that failure and vulnerability made for good talks and they thought I might share some of what I've learned being vulnerable and sharing my failures on the web.

I said yes I would love to participate in XOXO! I pitched them a screening of my upcoming "20 years of Links.net documentary" but a speech was a better fit. Here's my talk, in this nice video shared by the XOXO folk Justin Hall, Links from the Underground - XOXO Festival (2014):

What's not included in this video is the heartfelt introduction by Andy Baio suggesting that my web pages might have had some kind of influence on him in high school; Andy was sweet to write it up afterwards. After listening to his introduction, by the time I took the stage, I was a bit choked up.

My speech here looks back over 20 years of personal sharing online. XOXO is about as splendid a venue as I could imagine for this content - the event is curated, everyone attending has to explicitly explain something they make (not just sell, or promote, or schedule, but hands-on). So there's a touching lack of irony and the chance to turn to anyone there to ask "what do you make?" with people generally prepared to tell you! It's a much more fun conversation opener than "what do you do?" or "where do you work?"

In the crowd were many godparents of the early web; serious long-term community builders and online experimenters. It was heartening to see them a little grayer, still making things, eyes a-twinkle.

meeting Aaron Peckham - the guy who made Urban Dictionary! Enabling a collective evolving vernacular online, hurrah.

But XOXO wasn't some kind of web geezer fest - there were all manner of innovative new creators in the mix as well. Animators, game designers, storytellers, musicians making new experiences left me in a delicious limbo between the beloved familiar and the tantalizing novel. I came away from XOXO hugely impressed by the momentum they've created to attract folks, friends and strangers that I wanted to be around.

Ilyse and I meeting Asher Vollmer, game designer behind Threes! And now a casual RTS called Close Castles

Inside the XOXO venue, Andy + Andy on stage to kick things off Friday.

Riding a schoolbus between cultural opportunities and hotels

Portland, a city famous for cloudy skies, beamed bright burning sun throughout. Here's some outdoor pleasure on the roof-deck of Panic, an XOXO sponsor.

Playing Close Castles during an evening curation of experimental video games.

DJ Anil Dash descended from Twitter/ThinkUp to drop beats for happy feets.

Ilyse and Tantek work their way through a maze at the Hover-sponsored happy hour at Ground Kontrol, packed with playable arcade games, part of XOXO 2014.

People playing "Marrying Mr. Darcy" - a card game based on Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen during an evening's session of curated board and card games.

Jamie Wilkinson, Casey Pugh and KK Apple prepare to preview The Empire Strikes Back: Uncut as part of the XOXO Film Fest

Darius Kazemi sums up his #1 inspired XOXO 2014 talk "How I Won the Lottery" - not yet posted online, but Darius is active at twitter.com/tinysubversions

There was soul food and brain food and social connection - I was delighted and honored to be a part of XOXO 2014.

I managed to be included in one of Jonathan Mann's daily songs, after I too cried at his XOXO talk featuring his wild and lively grandmother:

Kevin Marks took great live notes, and Scott Rosenberg wrote up his multiple years of attendance in "XOXO and the Fierce Urgency of Nice". I didn't get a chance to thank Glenn Fleishman for the wireless setup book he wrote that help me configure my home; he wrote up a longer piece about XOXO 2014 for BoingBoing, "The narrative lottery at XOXO".

Preparing for my speech took a few weeks but nicely overlapped with the work I've been doing to look back at 20 years of online sharing at this here web site. My speech video from XOXO is a tasty appetizer, I hope, for a hot steaming pile of delicious main course film I aim to serve up in the next few weeks! More information about my upcoming documentary currently titled "Links.net: 20 years of Too Much Information" lives here: 20links.vhx.tv.

VHX site launched for personal documentary

Aside from hunting and gathering foodstuffs, I haven't left the house in over a week. I'm up to my ears in video making, for a short personal documentary about 20 years of sharing my life on this web site!

Today I'm pulling my head out of my Final Cut Pro X video editing software, and setting up a VHX page for this 20 Links video:


This will allow me to at least collect emails from prospective viewers, during my final phase of editing. Some day, when this video is done, I plan to release it free online and VHX will allow me to sell people DRM-free copies for as much as they feel like donating. I interviewed one of the VHX founders, Jamie Wilkinson, in 2013; I look forward to experimenting with more forms of crowd-supported online media production.

re DJ

Yesterday a plumbing emergency hindered filming for my documentary (I had a garden fountain of night soil). So between plumber visits, I made a 20 second DJ J-Hole promo video to submit to a local bar with an open call for disk jockeys:

Thanks to Greenhomies giving me the chance to DJ at Camp Baxter this July, so I had something recent to show for myself! July 2014 was my first time live DJing since 1998 at Reboot in Copenhagen. Now I've updated my DJ page: links.net/share/diskjock ahahahaha TODAY BACK TO MY DOCUMENTARY

from the midst of a search for the core yearning

This site Justin's Links appears in Vanity Fair magazine October 2014, in an article by Walter Isaacson "The Great Connectors." Isaacson penned a series of articles, drawn from his work on the book The Innovators about the twenty years since the birth of the web. He included me in his research, and I made an animated gif of his shorthand when Isaacson and I met up in October 2013:

Walter Isaacson shows his shorthand - animated GIF

For the last few minutes of our meeting Isaacson agreed to an interview, about The Innovators and his career as a storyteller, preacher, manager - YouTube, Facebook, or Flickr.

It's an honor to be included and I look forward to reading The Innovators - I had a terrific time reading Isaacson's Steve Jobs biography, as I was still reeling from a failed leadership attempt at GameLayers. I've handled a copy and I'm plumb-tickled they included a photo of me and Howard freaking up a page with Tim Berners-Lee and Marc Andresson.

So Hail, visitors - new and returning alike. I'm grateful for your attention! My hard work lately has been videos, mostly up on YouTube.com/justinslinks. Otherwise, this web site proceeds through various orifices, including this rather large one.

This uptick in external attention urges me to finish my film about my time on the web. To animate my presence in the infosphere whilst I canoodle video storytelling, I present

a jazzy #20links trailer posted to Vine:

a jazzy #20links trailer posted to Instagram:

This 6 second, 40k speed video event includes a sped up music sample from Harry Roy and His Mayfair Hotel Orchestra - Tumbling Tumbleweeds free music from the Internet Archive.

This article was quite helpful in exporting video for Vine vs. Instagram. Knowledge like that is not precious forever, but for now - fun to launch a blipvert for 20 Links.

"20 Links" is a nickname. The core yearning that animated my exploration of the web thus far defies a pithy title. I have been experimenting with all manner of story-bending systems to distill my truth to tell:

breaking down a story

Story-bending at a micro and now a macro level! More details to follow, fingers willing.

preparing not to over-prepare

I'm overdue for an update here! I posted my last update for my Patreon followers only in June, and didn't re-post it here until September. I am grateful to folks who would pledge their money towards the production of my future videos, and perhaps early access to my writing is a reward in lieu of new moving pictures.

This summer I haven't produced any videos, because I've been working on a documentary about my first 20 years online. I don't have a title yet, but I do have 35 minutes of edited footage. Here's a 40,000x speed preview of what I have so far:

The Innovators book by Walter IsaacsonI have reason to believe I may make an appearance in Walter Isaacson's upcoming book The Innovators. He's including some history of the early web and he interviewed me about my work on this web site, and my work at HotWired (just before I turned the camera back on him, almost a year ago: Video Walter Isaacson: Storyteller Preacher Manager).

When Isaacson's book comes out in early October 2014, if anybody says "whatever happened to that web geezer Justin Hall," I'd like to have some hard-earned online wisdom to share with them. I'm 70% done with a short documentary I look forward to sharing free online.

My deadline for this documentary was originally mid-September, to show at the XOXO conference - a celebration of independent internet-enabled creativity. Well, they were nice enough to give me a speaking slot and not a film screening. I have a speech to give this Sunday, and a film to finish for early October.

The last time I gave a speech was at the Game Developers Conference (here's a video episode I produced about the event). I promoted #OGDY - Open Game Data Yes. I wanted to encourage more sharing of experience by people making interactive entertainment. I had a 7 minute timeslot and I scripted my talk and rehearsed it until I had it memorized. Down to the gestures!

The feedback came back from audience members: the talk was polished but soulless. My point seemed shallow compared to the pompous depth of my presentation style.

"Justin was feeling too self-important in his delivery (wide-eyed stares into the room and pregnant pauses should be followed by something revelatory)."

That feedback had the fortunate effect of making me quite concerned about over-preparing for my XOXO talk. How does one prepare not to over-prepare? With a lot of writing, rewriting, drafts, writing new drafts and throwing away the script.

Fortunately the topic for my talk is the same as the topic for my film - how I've shared myself online, why I failed to live up to my earliest goals, and what I've learned. So I'm steeped in the questions, steeped in the material, and deep in conversations with trusted advisors on how to best digest and spew forth what I've learned.

My strategy has been to rely on an outline instead of a script - easier with 20 minutes, more time to inhabit my ideas in progress. XOXO has filmed and posted their films with weeks of the event, so I look forward to hopefully sharing some footage of my XOXO remarks here.

A chap named Justin McMurray messaged me to apologize to referring to my "crappy green screen" in his DO Lecture about "turning the camera back on the internet". I'm honored by the reference (about 11 minute 20 seconds in), and curious how he snuck a peek in my studio to spy my green screen fabric held aloft by chip-clips.

I appreciate McMurray's message of doing and reflecting, doing and reflecting. I'm a big believer in sharing what I've learned, and what I'm learning from others. As humans alive with language and hungry minds, it's the best we can do to support each other: sharing our truths towards greater understanding. That's what I aim to do up on stage at XOXO!

Sharing knowledge is also what I aim to do with future episodes of the Justin Hall show. I've been immensely cheered to see additional people sign up to support future episodes on Patreon, even during this production pause. The growing monies inspire me to make more and hire others.

I know that making videos is the best way to raise money for making more videos; I have no current strategy to monetize my 20 years of links.net documentary, other than to hope it will send more folks with open wallets towards Patreon.com/justin. After I publish my documentary, I look forward to more interviews, more essays, more questions, more sharing what I've learned as long as I'm alive!

Appeared on a podcast: Montreal Sauce

Miracles of the 21st century - people have conversations and record them to share with the world!

Montreal Sauce

I met Christopher Sikkenga through the web game PMOG. A few years later, he's started a regular podcast conversation with Paul DeLeeuw called "Montreal Sauce." On 26 June 2014 I was allowed to be a guest; you can listen Justin Hall on Montreal Sauce podcast!

Borrowing from their web writeup, here's a breakdown of some of what we discussed; much of it concerns my video efforts with the Justin Hall Show, and what it means to make personal media:

I am grateful these two decided I might be worth their attention. Perhaps you'll find Montreal Sauce is a tasty addition to your media diet!