Holo
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HOT · 17w

This is why HOLO exists.

As a freshman in high school, in the year of our lord 2002, I made a website called “Jason’s Site.” While a website named after myself and devoted to updates about my own life was unspeakably vain for the time, it was also quite forward looking: The site has a news feed, an “about me” page, and an email mailing list for people to receive updates. I intended for it to be funded by reader donations. It had a section for Flash videos and photos, a guestbook, and a “friends” page that was literally a list of my friends. It had an ill-advised but nonetheless prescient “hot or not” section that featured photos of my friends and acquaintances and predated both Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg’s original idea for the social network, called “FaceMash.”

I updated the site regularly and obsessively for about three months, and then never returned to it. The site was embarrassing then and is embarrassing now, but abandoning it was a terrible mistake.

When I stopped updating my website, I didn’t stop posting online. I just found other places to do it. I made a Xanga, and then a LiveJournal, and then a MySpace. So did all my friends. We posted every day—photos from trips, friend and relationship drama, complaints about teachers, inside jokes. We were conditioned to post because only the weird kids did not post. There were rarely any consequences for posting the intimate details of our lives; the only consequences came from not participating in the online conversation.

None of Xanga, LiveJournal, or MySpace managed to figure out how to monetize the stuff we posted in any meaningful sense. There were no targeted advertisements, and none of us ever thought about “personal data” or what could be done with it.

I remember the day that the University of Maryland gave incoming freshmen “@umd.edu” email addresses. This was a monumental day not because we were going to be in college soon—it was important because the e...

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