Mike’s vlog #2

This is a little machine, it’s not a robot, it does loosely speaking have: Input: winding. Memory: this little cylinder. And output: sound. But it’s hardly autonomous or capable of adaptive behavior… it plays the theme from Somewhere in Time… that old Christopher Reeve movie… Karen gave it to me for an anniversary years ago… it was in my nightstand top drawer… I hadn’t wound it for maybe years… and then one day, like a year after she left, I guess I just closed the drawer a little extra hard or something and all of a sudden there’s these little notes coming from the drawer… this music, from a long ago movie about a longer ago time from a woman who used to love me… all stored on these little pin heads on this little half-inch cylinder… just sitting dormant in my drawer… forgotten… non-existent… never-having-been-existent… just dormant… and then one day you close some drawer and for a five second eternity it’s like she’s still there with you… for some lifetime of infinite thinness in time, but infinite thickness in space it’s like she never left you… and then the little spring, that’d been saving this energy from some past love, from having been wound in some distant, forgotten past… just runs down… and the dust that momentarily took the form of someone who used to love you is dust once more…


Laura’s vlog #2

We learned in school that by the time an Amish girl is twelve years old she knows how to cook a meal for a whole crew of Amish workers, I can’t do that, my cooking skills aren’t for shit, but I can draw the rings of Saturn and I’m working on my novel and I think that’s better.

We also learned that three thousand years ago King Tut’s grandfather, Amenhotep III became king when he was just twelve, and his son, Amenhotep IV changed the world. He moved the capital city and he eliminated pantheism and personal gods and taught of a oneness with creation. My stepmom Jane told me that she made a laser when she was twelve. I think twelve year olds can do a lot. Mommy and daddy always tell me I can do anything. I wasn’t confident until recently though. I like being me now; I don’t think I always did like being me.

Laura’s vlog #1

Hi! I’m Laura Rider-Williams; I’m twelve years old; I’m in the seventh grade; I like volleyball; I like reading and writing; in fact I’m a “reading scholar,” and I’m working on my novel, or actually my second novel, cause my first one sucked. I like boys, well, I’m not really sure about that, maybe I hate boys, but I like Kevin, I know I really really like Kevin. I’m saving money for my trip to Paris someday. And, of course, I spend a lot of time trying to figure out why mommy and daddy hate each other, or love each other or whatever the hell, well, pardon my French, but whatever the hell they’re thinking about each other this week.

They’re always apologizing for not being married, and kids at school, if their parents are married they say they feel sorry for me and if their parents are divorced they say they know what I’m going through… but the thing is, I like living in two places, it’s more interesting, it’s more fun, it’s like “sleeping over” all the time. I think I feel closer to my mom, I don’t know, it’s just the two of us and it just feels really close. And I read a lot at her house. But then at my dad’s, I think it’s more fun. I really like hanging out with Jason and Andrea, they’re my stepmom’s kids. They’re a lot of fun to play with.

Inside the Actor’s Studio Apartment

Inside The Actor’s Studio Apartment, hosted by Daniel Bowers, interviews real actors in their real homes. Think Oprah meets Cribs, with fart jokes. They upload a new episode every few weeks. They’re currently running a Kickstarter campaign. We love that. Indy-prod financed by fans. Take the machine out and connect the creatives and the audience!

Mike’s vlog #1

So, there’s this very apocryphal Nils Bohr story: someone goes to visit him, and after their visit, as they’re heading for the door, they look up and see this horseshoe over the door, and the visitor asks Bohr, “what’s that for?” And Bohr says, “well, they say it brings good luck…” The visitor says, “surely you don’t believe that?” And Bohr replies, “oh, of course not! …but they say it works… even if you don’t believe in it…”

Okay… my name is Mike Williams, and I’m thirty-six, and I’m a robotics scientist. I did my doctorate at Carnegie Mellon and now I run a university robotics research lab. Robotics I would say, in my humble opinion, is really where it’s at. So Deep Blue is the world chess champion. Big deal. Deep Blue is the biggest idiot savant in the history of “life” on earth. In a person, or in a robot, there’s really three things going on, perception, cognition and action. So it’s not about calculating pi to a million digits, it’s not about playing some “simple” game like chess where a queen can be in one of sixty-four discreet places… sixty-four squares in some abstract, geometric world, it’s about the real world where you can never absolutely know anything. The real world where the queen might be part way across the line, where there’s a breeze that’s pushing her one way or another, the real world where everything you think you know is just an approximation of whatever the “real” might be.

My daughter Laura was adding computer memory the other day, and as she had the lid off the machine she just stared at all that silicon, and said, “daddy, all this electronics, this could never really be conscious, could it?” And I found myself asking her, if you “slid the lid” off a human skull, if you looked at all that gray jell-o inside, would you ever imagine that that could be conscious? We always think of the machines we make in such a limited, such a crude little way. Maybe we should turn the tables and look at ourselves. Maybe the real question is: how do you get mind from meat?

Joi Ito’s Model Release

For his book Freesouls

Joi Ito, director of the MIT Media Lab and chairman of Creative Commons

has written a sort of “Creative Commons Model Release” or a “Creative Commons Friendly” Model Release.

Bad Avatar from here forward will license our work Creative Commons Attribution, and we will use Joi Ito’s model release for actors and others appearing in work we create.

Creative Commons License
Avatars Illustrated by Bad Avatar is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at BadAvatar.TV.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://www.facebook.com/badavatar.

From: http://freesouls.cc/modelrelease/

Model Release
The following is a copy of a Model Release Form signed by all of the generous people who appear in this book by name. This form gives Joi Ito, the photographer, the right use the images in this book in any media and for any good purpose.* By licensing this work under Creative Commons Attribution, Joi is giving this right to you.

We encourage other photographers to use this license. We also encourage you to make use of Joi’s photos.

Please create!

* other than advertising or anything defamatory!


I hereby give Photographer permission to use and license the Images for use in any Media for all purposes other than the advertising, promotion, commercial endorsement or packaging of any product or service, so long as that purpose is not pornographic or defamatory, with the exception that I expressly give Photographer permission to use the Images in advertising and promotion in connection with any publication of the Images by Photographer. I understand that the Images may be modified or altered in any way, and may be combined with other images, audio, text, graphics or other material. I understand that my name and identity may be associated with the Images.

I agree that all copyright in the Images belong to Photographer. This Release is given for good and valuable Consideration that I acknowledge I have received. I acknowledge that I have no right to any additional consideration or accounting, and agree that I will make no claim upon Photographer with respect to the Images for any reason. I agree that this Release is binding upon my heirs and upon anyone to whom I may assign any other rights that I may have.

I agree that this Release is irrevocable, perpetual and worldwide. I represent and warrant that I am at least 18 years of age and have the full legal capacity to execute this Release.


“Model” or “I” means the person who participated in the Shoot described in this Release. If the Model is not at least 18 years of age or lacks legal capacity in the jurisdiction of the Model’s residence, “I” includes the parent and/or legal guardian of the Model.
“Photographer” means the photographer, videographer, filmmaker or any other person photographing or recording the Model during the Shoot, including an entity, as well as any person or entity to whom Photographer has assigned or licensed rights under this Release and any licensees of any such person or entity.
“Images” means all photographs, video, film, audio, sound or other recordings taken of the Model as part of the Shoot, including the Model’s appearance, likeness, form and/or voice.
“Shoot” means the photographic, filmic or other recording session identified in this Release.
“Media” means all media and formats including print, film, electronic, digital, broadcast television, Internet, podcast and any other media and formats known now or invented in the future.
“Consideration” means something of value received in exchange for this Release.
MODEL Name (print):
Date of Birth:
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Postal Code:

Shoot Description:

Karen’s vlog #2


This is a picture of my brain, pretty cool, huh? It’s made with “magnetic resonance imaging” or MRI, it’s a fairly new technology and the technology has given birth to a new science, cognitive neuroscience. The black and white picture is a “structural” MRI, it shows the architecture of my brain, the color picture is a “functional” MRI, it shows what areas of my brain are active as I do some particular thing like laugh at a joke or add some numbers or experience something like pain or the color red.

When I was a girl, we had this night blooming cactus in our front yard. It bloomed in late summer and into fall. It’d have all these buds that’d keep getting bigger… and you could always tell which ones were going to open that night, they’d be so… so… pregnant. They’d start to open around dusk… around two in the morning or so – they’d be huge, like almost the size of your head … and then at dawn they’d be closing up. I remember seeing bees trying frantically to squeeze in those giant, closing blooms for that last raid of pollen. I almost never got to see them really big cause I always had to go to bed. One evening I was looking at one that was getting ready to open that night… and you could see where all the parts, where all the petals, were going to be; they just hadn’t opened up yet, like a folded umbrella, you can see how the structure will spread out even though it hasn’t done it yet…

Anyway, it was almost time for bed, and I took the flower and, I really wanted to see it open, and I started to peel it open… I wanted to open out the parts, see the big flower in bloom… Well, it didn’t exactly work out that way… the pattern of the flower was there, the instructions for the flower were there… but it wasn’t a flower in bloom, it hadn’t grown into one yet, it was a possibility… it was a causal cascade… it was a trajectory that might be followed, but hadn’t happened yet…

Karen’s vlog #1

Hi, my name’s Karen Rider; I’m thirty-six; I’m a neurobiologist. I run a research lab with several colleagues, some post-docs and some grad students. It’s called Ganglionics; it’s in a suburban Palo Alto biotech corridor. Folks in the lab are working on a whole range of vision things: early mammalian vision, machine vision, analog VLSI, optical flow and lots more… myself, I’m really interested in visual consciousness… visual awareness… neuronal activity… a.k.a. … the mind-body problem…

Do you have any idea how difficult it is to actually “see?” You just open your eyes and it’s there… like taking a lens cap off a camera… no! People who’ve had lifelong cataracts removed generally never learn to see – their brain never learned – now can’t learn – to make sense of the chaotic firings of a hundred million rods and cones… it drives them crazy… most of them wish they’d never had the surgery; some of them commit suicide. The simple truth is that taking that mess and finding edges… shapes… objects… meaning… the simple truth is that taking that mess and finding your mother’s face… is a staggeringly more complex task than beating Deep Blue or winning the Nobel Prize in Economics.

My daughter Laura started playing volleyball last year. She’s twelve now. She’s a big twelve. It’s funny, Katie down the street is also twelve, and she’s so small… I can’t imagine anyone’d ever guess they’re the same age.
I went to Laura’s first match a couple of weeks ago. Actually they played three matches in one day! At first the other parents weren’t quite sure what to make of me. Laura’s dad; um… he’s not the coach of her team… but he does coach older girls for the same club – anyway, finally, half joking, but maybe in a way not, Laura’s coach asked him if it was okay to be nice to me.

It’s Laura’s birthday on Sunday. We talked about a sleepover with her girlfriends. But then some of the boys wanted to invite themselves too. Laura’s definitely noticed boys recently. I vetoed all coed slumber parties. Her school – her Catholic school, can you believe this – is organizing “movie dates!”
Anyway, my dad’s in the hospital again. So we’re putting off the slumber party for a while… and having a hospital birthday party on Sunday.

Lonely Girl 15

Summer of 2006. Five years ago. Was she more real if she was fake? Or more fake if she was real. Who cared? What mattered? Coming early in the vlogging timeline it would be interesting to find out how many “real” vloggers, if anything performative is real… or if anything in life isn’t performed… interesting to find out how many real vloggers were inspired by this “idea” of vlogging…

A year-and-a-half later in 2008:

Natalie Tran

The one, the only, Natalie Tran! It’s amazing to watch the trajectory as she’s built self-confidence, built a personal brand, built an online identity, and ultimately, built a career through her clever, simple, self-deprecating, insightful vlogs.

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