Weekly Wire
Austin Chronicle Eight Prominent Online Diarists

By Kim Mellen

AUGUST 7, 2000:  With thousands of online diarists active today, this group of eight, culled mostly from the Diarist.net awards lists, barely scratches the surface of the vast array of folks baring their souls on the Internet. And though this list leaves out dozens of equally prominent, influential, or plain notorious diarists, the handful here are all people you're likely to run into in no time flat, no matter whose door you use to enter their worlds. To dive in and pick between 3,200 such doors, Diarist.net's Diary Registry is a good place to start.

If you're ready to begin your own odyssey of self-exposure but lack the HTML savvy to put it online, Diaryland.com and Deardiary.org offer free (and ad-free) space on which to keep your diary, and a browser-based interface to maintain it.

Justin Hall www.links.net

Though oddly ignored by the online diarist community these days, the frighteningly intelligent, 25-year-old Justin Hall is probably its most famous member. As the young, wild-haired subject of Doug Hall's 1999 documentary Home Page, Hall traveled around the country evangelizing the Web. Today, as an employee of the Richmond, Calif.-based Gamers.com, he continues to link the bits and pieces of his "non-linear life" together with astounding and perplexing feats of navigation.

Diane Patterson: Nobody Knows Anything www.nobody-knows-anything.com

Patterson is the author of the much-discussed and obligatorily linked-to "Why Web Journals Suck," a manifesto on the do's and don'ts of diarykeeping informed by her own four years online and her insightful author's eye. Currently making a living in Hollywood as a screenwriter, Patterson sprinkles sharp, witty film reviews (and the occasional spoiler) in between her entries.

Kymm Zuckert: The Mighty Kymm www.hedgehog.net/mightykymm/

This 35-year-old Jersey kid (via Brooklyn) somehow has managed to provide a new diary entry every day since May of 1996, post prolifically to community mailing lists, and maintain the immense "Open Pages" Webring in between her playwriting, directing, photography, and day job as an oncology lab worker. The first winner of Diarist.net's legacy awards, Kymm Zuckert is a daily fix for nearly every online diary reader -- just ask around.

Rob Rummel-Hudson: The Book of Rob www.digitalism.com/rhudson/book/

Rob Rummel-Hudson comes to us from New Haven, Conn., via Detroit (where he worked at "the Monolith") via Kalamazoo via UT-Arlington via Odessa via Lubbock (the "Best Managed Mid-Size City in Texas"), so if you want to see what happens when a Texan is unleashed upon the world, Rob is your man.

Al Schroeder: Nova Notes userweb.nashville.com/~Al.Schroeder/journal.html

Once subtitling his diary "The Cybersixties That Never Were," 46-year-old sci-fi fanatic Al Schroeder is the elder statesman of the online diarist community. The Nashvillian runs the high-traffic Journals mailing list, and keeps subscribers talking (as if they needed any prompting) with daily questions -- from the technical to the philosophical -- about the pratfalls and rewards of keeping online diaries. Schroeder is married with two children, one of whom is autistic. A third child, Jamie (who was also autistic), died suddenly last year, and Schroeder's tributes to his son are some of the most powerful pieces of writing ever to be put up on the Web.

Beth Campbell: Bad Hair Days www.xeney.com

Referred to by Gwen Zepeda as the most common deflowerer of online diary virgins, Campbell is a 31-year-old criminal defense attorney who lives in Sacramento, Calif. Her journal is now only one part of her site (which also includes a Web log, a forum, and a garden chronicle) and it has gone through three incarnations since the first, "Dear Jackie Robinson," appeared in November 1997. All three journals have been slathered with awards.

Gus Mueller: Randomly Ever After www.spies.com/~gus/ran/

Read "the Gus" if you don't like corporate culture or small talk. One of the more iconoclastic online diarists, Mueller doesn't hesitate to detail arguments with his girlfriend, post naked pictures of himself, speak freely about drug use, or trash the dot-com that fired him on his 32nd birthday (he keeps a page counting down the moments until the company's demise). Recent quote: "When I finally found myself emptying my bladder, it felt like the sort of pleasure against which legislation is normally written."

Willa Cline: Willa's Journal www.willa.com

A Web designer by trade, Willa Cline keeps a diary that is as beautiful to look at as it is to read. Since she began in August of 1995, Cline has kept a dream journal parallel to her diary, a rare and intriguing invitation to delve into a writer's subconscious vis-a-vis her waking mind.

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