AD: Grow your business with AT&T.


In the Spring of 1994, I met the dozen people who were going to help me create a new publication for a new medium.

We were feeling pretty elite, the people picked by Wired magazine, which fancied itself the font of digital coolness, to design and launch HotWired. In the Spring of 94, the team of html jockeys, Photoshop wizards, audio specialists, network administrators, database architects, user interface designers, webmasters, art directors and editors was just beginning to get acquainted.

We all went out to dinner at a Thai restaurant. We were all grinning like fools because we were going to be paid to do something we'd have paid to do. At dinner, I was seated next to a slim fellow of nineteen, with blond hair past his shoulders. He was one of the interns who had been chosen from scores of applicants because he had such a cool web page. Justin Hall. Swarthmore sophomore. Creator of the notorious Justin's Links from the Underground, the site that always seems to be up on cool pages, dirty pictures, and net.controversy. He was taking a semester off college to grab a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

"And what brings you to HotWired?" I asked. I am not a master at breaking the ice.

"The opportunity to work with you," said Justin, with a straight face, looking me right in the eye.

I immediately decided to like him. Either the guy was such a brazen suckup as to be a genius of the genre, or he was a wiseass who was laying on the irony, or he just said the first thing that came into his mind. In any case, I went for the straightforward audacity of it. He sure blew my icebreaker to oblivion.

Justin plays the computer and network like Heifetz with a violin. Definitely a virtuoso. Gary Wolf, who succeeded me as Executive Editor at Hotwired, was there one night when Justin was exercising his virtuosity, and captured the wonder of it in a short email essay that I saved to this day.

Justin's going to show us a view of the world that only a smartass virtuoso of the digital arts can show us.

-Howard Rheingold
In my 21 years I have managed to milk this medium a modest munificence
recently I've tried to give it back -

seven was my first computer, and like so much in life I have to thank my mother for that

thanks mom.

an apple II+, I played a lot of games.
it was that persuasion, that addiction that employed me selling retail software at software etc
(that and the store's close proximity to my psychiatrists office)
I could move software - I could make people want things they didn't know!
that they didn't even have money for! I had a high return rate, and a high sales rate. who cares?

so I failed some classes, rebelled hard against my mother's third husband, George, a second generation greek immigrant 55 years older than I

high school, in chicago, more computer games, rebelling, grateful dead exposure from my brother, and resulting drug use

huh huh heh huh hhha uh

I took lots of acid.
i smoked lots of pot
I went to college
I did it some more
I had an intense relationship
I wrote lots (80) poems in the course of a year

thought about making a small run edition of the collection versus but um, like

by that time,

let's go back to the software store -
I was dialing into local (well, suburban) chicago bulletin boards, mostly hunting for illegal stuff (recipes, anarchy, stolen credit cards, hacked software, accounts and passwords)
but I fell into hosting a poetry forum for suburban chicago male youth to extend their vision

uh huh

and I edited a bit of a hacked newsletter "The Humble Review"
for which I wrote a film review of Akira, anime, a film I deeply loved
one of the pirate/hackers/sysops said "you write like the new york times or something"

so I thought, hey, I should be a writer
I wrote a lot
so what did it take to get into time magazine?


well, so I went to college, and I finally got _my own_ internet account,
and I heard about the web in december 1993, and I thought - yeah! all that info, in manageable navigatibal form! yeehah! and then I saw,

lo, he beheldeth a miracle -

"hi, I'm joe, I'm a physicist, and this is my dog"

wait, if he can make a web page for such a human subject, might not I?

thus, on january 2something 1994 I wuz born agin, on the web
in justin's links from the underground (i used to capitalize it)

now at: (or

see, I was like surfing the net a lot, you know,
like when the web was a weekend's worth

so I posted my tours guides reviews travells
and folks dug on them
so I thought i'd make 'em read my poetry

like not nearly eighty, but a few poems about that young woman up there,
and a few about my dead dad

and pretty soon, you've got a body of text jes' a beggin' interpolation,
right? what ties these together

is my life story!!!

on the web, like links dude.

you might get lost. I hope so. I am.

so I done this a lot.

hey, that girlfriend, I couldn't figure out how to give her what I had to give. so, with the internet, I found, the internet could take all the love I had to give!

and when you're 19, that's a lot.

so I used my web page to get me a job at hotwired
(and wrote about it)

I met all these crazy cyberweirdos there - like spoon and abbe and howard rheingold

crazy cats
ultimately doomed to this enterprise,
see, hotwired was on a spiral path, um,

well , let's just say there were divergant philosophies.

so, whippersnapper I was,
I sided with the rebel alliance, like jonathan steuer (who was one of the grimmest cats to live with at the time)

oh, I'm still in like college and shit,
I don't worry about whether I'm going back or not cuz it just pains my mother

but having been invited to speak at the rand corporation, and national newspaper conferences, and lollapalooza,

and commanding an audience in the daily 10s of thousands

and having posted on my web site that I thought this publishing power was a gift, but I'm the same white male rich kid that's been doing it for years in the hundreds,
and so wanting to teach non-demographically impaired folks these skills

I got together a 28 city tour, by greyhound bus, sleeping on reader's floors, and meeting merchant marines, and feral truck driving holy ghost obsessed blues pianists, and putting illiterate witchitanian seventy year old truck drivin' woman cleota, puttin' her story online

soon thereafter I got this gotdamned carpal tunnel precusor tendonitis I have in my arms

which arose at just the time I was to start cranking for minds
so I was howard rheingold's paid companion (not in the roman sense)
I lived in his office and keep him sane and study stuff

I read histories of publishing efforts (rolling stone, new yorker)
cuz having been through one that ideologically diverged,

I believe in electric minds, because I believe in howard. something drew us together at hotwired (besides the drugs, I mean)

I've written about him, too

we've spent a lot of time together over the last year, and there are two reasons I am here (for the purposes of this paragraph:
one, howard foremostedly stated early on that his purpose of this enterprise, a primary purpose was to edimcate folks. to raise the level of discourse (not, mind you, to increase his brand name; see louis rossetto

two, when we walk on the nearby marin mountains, howard always picks up trash.

that's respect I can match.

oh yeah, and howard sez he's going to make me a writer.

uh huh.


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