#rp15 Speaker: Justin Hall


Justin Hall; photo credit: Joi Ito (CC BY 2.0) http://bit.ly/1N769Qw

20 years of blogging – not many of us can say that; Justin Hall can. Meet the pioneering blogger, who started “Justin’s Links from the Underground” in 1994, at #rp15.

Nowadays, blogging practically counts as a “proper job”, but that certainly wasn’t the case in 1994. Back when then-19-year-old Justin Hall started his blog “Justin’s Links from the Underground, it was still highly unusual. Now, some 20 years later, the blogging pioneer is joining us for this year’s re:publica. It will be the first time he speaks at the conference. But he once ended up at a #rp14 party, because he knows journalist and #rp14 speaker Annalee Newitz, who gave a talk last year on how the future, too, might be wild and unreadable.

When Justin Hall first started his blog, his aim was not to document his own life, but to experiment with the Web, track the paths inside it, and share hyperlinks. As there were no templates like Wordpress or Tumblr available at the time, he had to program the website himself. His timing was excellent, he says in hindsight, because in the mid-1990s, getting an Internet connection wasn’t as simple as it is today: “Being in college was one of the only ways.”

Hall’s website slowly evolved, from a collection of interesting things he found on the Web to a personal diary. From nude photos to the story of his break-up with his girlfriend at the time, from drug experiences to his view on the development of the Web – Hall shared his thoughts and experiences with the public, creating what is now considered to be one of the first weblogs. 20 years later, Hall still blogs on his website, though not as frequently. His goal for 2015 is to fill the website bud.com with new contents – a domain he has already held since the 1990s.

And in May, we will hear from the pioneer blogger himself. He will talk about his experiences tracking his life online for over two decades, and take us back to those early years of blogging, highlighting the differences between then and now. “I’ve had to change how I communicate online, as I’ve learned how to better respect other people. Did I make those changes because I got older and more sensitive? Or did I make those changes because the web itself changed and many more people participate?” We are excited to hear what he has to say, and we’re hoping to fulfil his expectations regarding #rp15 – his proclaimed goal is to “get outside my San Francisco, California, United States of American technology culture bubble”, and see what the traditions and knowledge of Europe might yield. “The Internet birthed in America, but the Web was born in Europe,” he says.

Justin Hall @jah