This is the first episode of the Justin Hall Show since the mid-August release of overshare: the links.net story with working sound. In this video, and this post, I'll share some statistics and earnings from the film after six weeks live:
YouTube: 5,270 views
Facebook: 4,096 over 3 seconds; 1,220 over 30 seconds
http://Archive.org: 131 views
Vimeo: 66 views
Dailymotion: 60 views
overshare.VHX.tv: 36 units sold for $437
Thanks to Jason Scott, I was able to get a Torrent up and running for overshare.links.net as well via the Internet Archive. So if you haven't watched it, well, it's out there. And someone responded asking if I could come up with a regular podcast pitch. I love the moving pictures but maybe audio would be faster than video. Either way, I look forward to potentially working with other people in my media making!
Please enjoy this latest Justin Hall Show episode! Thank you for your support.
For over twenty-one years I've been sharing my personal stories online. First I started with simple web pages, then I tried videos and video games. Then somehow I backed my way into an 18 month project to assemble 1500+ media objects into a 40 minute documentary about myself, the secrets I shared online, and an interview with my Mom to prove that not everyone is still angry with me.
With no producer no deadline and no venue it was up to me to self-motivate to finish and publish as I saw fit. overshare: the links.net story finally went live on the web in August 2015, for free everywhere and for sale on VHX. Here's my distribution strategy:
I've published the video for free viewing wherever I could maybe find viewers. I created a basic web site at overshare.links.net. I sliced the film up into episodes between 2-10 minutes long, and uploaded the episodes and the whole thing to the Internet Archive, YouTube, Facebook, Vimeo and dailymotion.
Good news: I can reach people where they might be watching videos, and overshare can pop up in more varied media search results. Bad news: I have viewers, stats, and comments distributed across many platforms which makes overshare appear less popular in any one venue.
Initially I was thinking to tease the film with episodes and trailers, and then sell the whole production only on VHX. But my mentor and instigator for this project Howard Rheingold pointed out that one paid article, or speaking opportunity or consulting gig resulting from this film would be worth hundreds of video sales. If the film is a calling card, then I want it to reach as many folks as possible. Plus overshare is about free sharing of stories on the internet, so it seemed more thematically appropriate to scatter the whole thing to the winds.
So why even offer the film for sale? I enjoy playing with media technologies, and I want to give people a chance to use their dollars to encourage me to keep making weird stuff. Plus I had a chance to interview VHX co-founder Jamie Wilkinson back in 2013 and VHX just sounded like fun. If I take the long view, that this video will be for sale for years to come, I think I can look forward to occasional surprises when someone decides to pay to support this unusual cultural production. And I can enjoy VHX's tools for selling and promoting the film, as VHX teaches me about online video distribution in 2015.
Today, the deluxe "TMI edition" of my film on VHX is the only place to find past versions, outtakes, deleted scenes and so forth. It's nice to have a place to feed media to folks who might be extra-interested. So far I've sold 34 units: 25 of the TMI edition and 7 paying over the minimum price.
For other projects like The Justin Hall Show, I've used crowdfunding to support my efforts. But for overshare, I didn't know what the scope or shape of the project would be. I didn't want to overpromise and underdeliver: being on the hook for making an unknown film and for pleasing my supporters at the same time. My last software job helped me save up enough money that I could afford to stay working at home with my head down, not asking for money online.
But crowdfunding is not just about money - it's about revving people up who might be fans and promoters. When we buy in and support a project with our monies, we become naturally interested in helping other people see the wisdom or beauty of that project. Perhaps I missed out on an opportunity to amp up some viewers and get more attention on my project here! But I was mindful that crowdfunding, if successful, demands outreach and upkeep. As a one person team heading into a difficult project of unknown boundaries, I wanted to stay focused on my core film not on audience relations.
I started work in earnest in early 2014 and I didn't arrive on a title until a few weeks before release in mid-2015. Accordingly I did minimal advance promotions before I had a title and I knew the movie was going to actually be finished. With all this advance quietude, I had exactly 1 pre-sale on VHX. Thank you Kevin!
Without a crowdfunding audience demanding updates, I was left working largely in my own head. I was tempted a number of times to publish some "behind the scenes" videos and posts to VHX and my personal weblog. But again as a one-man band making an increasingly elaborate media object, I wanted to keep my focus on finishing and polishing one large work, and not feeding a bunch of small films and text updates. It was an unusually strict approach to media production for me - I'm normally throwing off all kinds of media bits. Never having made something this long with this many moving pieces I came to enjoy having the razor to slice off ideas that weren't part of the main attraction.
This meant beavering away in silence, largely alone, with my family and friends asking "is it done yet" and some caring folks saying "you should stop smoking pot and leave your basement and go out and meet people already." And it was probably true - this was a pretty lonely affair, editing footage of myself telling stories about myself. Long days working on footage about suicide or divorce had me glad for my cannabis prescription to provide some evening mood lightening.
Out, and now?
Now the movie is live in public. The great question mark of "what is this thing" has been finally drawn on a glowing screen. Now it's up to me to push that question mark across many glowing screens.
It's strange to have a video that is so much about myself - it makes promotions a little bit awkward. "Check me out!" cries the manchild, "You should pay attention to me and my past!" Perhaps strangers should pay attention to their own local stories, stories of greater need and suffering than this tale of one young man who lost his father and found the web.
But it turns out my coming of age happened in parallel with the growth of the popular internet, so for my overshare marketing I've largely focused on an academic audience. Already teachers have said they will use this film to help their students understand more about the early web and the advent of widespread personal media sharing. I made the titles and credits and information about the film in basic HTML and posted them freely online to serve as possible study materials. My promotional efforts mostly focus on telling academics the film is freely available. Schoolfolk are not as sexy as Hollywood but they're an audience of the future.
Uploading to so many places, and choosing Creative Commons distribution, I have set myself up for some surprises. Already other people have reposted the entire film of overshare on their own YouTube accounts. I think of the Judeo-Christian bible: media products only stay alive if they are copied. The entire film is an advertisement for or warning against me, so anyone else sharing it around should mostly serve to draw still more attention to me and my stories. I should relax into the web of sharing, or else I'm in the wrong line of work.
My goal as a personal filmmaker was not to create a profit fountain, but rather to self-promote over the long haul - finding my way to new conversations and opportunities that will tickle my brain and occupy my fingers. Now that it's live in the world overshare: the links.net story might tickle someone else as well.
Hello, my name is Justin Hall and I've been sharing my personal life in explicit detail online for over twenty years. Starting in 1994, my personal web site Justin's Links from the Underground has documented family secrets, romantic relationships, and my experiments with sex and drugs.
overshare: the links.net story is a documentary about fumbling to foster intimacy between strangers online. Through interviews, analysis and graphic animations, I share my motivations, my joys and my sorrows from pioneering personal sharing for the 21st century. In 2004 the New York Times referred to me as "perhaps the founding father of personal weblogging." I hope this documentary reveals that I was a privileged white male with access to technology who worked to invite as many people as possible to join him in co-creating an internet where we have a chance to honestly share of our humanity.
overshare: the links.net story is available free for watching and downloading at overshare.links.net.
In addition, I'm selling this video using a service called VHX. VHX allows for DRM-free downloads so you can watch this film on your device, on your terms. In addition, there's a "TMI edition" on VHX that has behind-the-scenes footage, outtakes and more. On VHX you can pay above than the minimum cost of the film if you'd like to encourage me.
The overshare titles and credits are both made as basic web pages, so viewers can follow up with my source material. In addition, overshare is published under a Creative Commons Attribution license so anyone is free to remix the material to help tell their own story.
Today is the last day of July 2015. I began this project in early 2014, around the 20th anniversary of Justin's Links. I'm now 40 years old; overshare has been a good chance to look back at decades of evolving myself online. Later this year I will be marrying Ilyse Iris Magy in California - she's an explorer and communicator herself who aided and abetted me making this film. Now finishing overshare and marrying Ilyse I'm looking forward to more decades serving my ideals around participatory human communications.
What's next for me creatively and professionally? I'd like to make more episodes of the Justin Hall Show to explore a long list of topics deferred whilst finishing overshare. I'm fielding ethical cannabis business ideas for bud.com. Today I seek collaboration: I've spent a year or more largely alone editing myself talking about my past; I'm eager to work with other people to make a better present and future.
Ultimately, I hope overshare can help people understand more about the history of our internet and the tradeoffs we make as we work to be authentic to ourselves in public space with friends and strangers. Please enjoy overshare: the links.net story and let's share the internet together with kindness and gratitude for the chance we have to share of ourselves and listen to other people.
Today is a soft-launch for my "twenty years of Links.net" documentary, exploring the personal and social costs of my search for attention through explicit personal publishing on the early web.
I will spend July preparing the film for online distribution: finalizing the video's title, which will effect fonts and URLs in places throughout the film and web. I'll correct typos & errors, do color correction & a final audio mix. Then I'll slice this up into episodes and make trailers. Finally, I'll pull off the curtain by reaching out to media outlets, academics, web historians, artists and freaks who might find their cortexes or ribs tickled here.
A moving picture is worth 1000 words a second. Those who share themselves with the public through the Internet using video accelerate their exposure to the minds of strangers.
JenniCam was a pioneer of webcams - opening her bedroom to anyone with a web browser. Jennifer Johnson, née Ringley explored the medium and personal transparency, reaching great heights of fame and exposure, before removing herself entirely from the web a few years later.
I'm sifting through some of these sorts of recollections myself for my 21 years of links.net documentary. Jennifer Johnson here wasn't ready to take on any role or responsibility for rampant public intimacy using technology but she does end the interview with an effecting testament to the social and personal costs for her therein.
Spoiler: she attributes some of her downshifted sharing to aging processes, in a portion of this interview that caused me to nod in recognition.
I am honored that people want to hear about my early work on the web. I guess it's exciting that I've been introducing myself to strangers online for 20+ years! But I don't like being a "greatest hits" person who is telling the same old story. So I work to tell new stories, these days via the Justin Hall Show, and I work to tell old stories in new ways.
7 May 2015 I had the opportunity to talk for 30 minutes at re:publica, a large technology culture & politics conference in Berlin, Germany. I looked back at my history, and I imagined four archetypes for personal sharing online:
There's never been so many cameras pointed at me speaking before, and there's never been such a polished final edit. Big thanks to the organizers of re:publica for hosting me and putting out this video the same day I spoke!
After my talk at XOXO last year, earnest Americans approached me with business cards or emotions and wanted to connect for a spell. After my talk at re:publica, earnest Germans kindly mentioned my remarks on Twitter; fewer face-to-face discussions.