Westworld and the ghosts of AI

source: lamag.com

Someday, somewhere – anywhere, unfailingly, you’ll find yourself, and that, and only that, can be the happiest or bitterest hour of your life – Pablo Neruda

Warning:  This post may contain spoilers for Westworld 1 & 2.

I was late to the Westworld party but have loved every moment of it and the follow-up conversation: If Westworld existed, a simulated Wild West populated by robots, or hosts, as they are called, would I go?

I don’t think I would, but this survey says 71% of the people they asked would. I imagine that I would feel about it the way I do about glamping. I want to love it, but the fact I pay the same amount of money for a four star hotel but have to build a fire before I can boil the kettle to make a cup of tea makes it difficult. Oooh but then at Westworld I would have a robot to do that for me.

Also, as I have said before, inasmuch as I like to think about gaming, I really just enjoy the theory of gaming so thinking about Westworld is enough for me. Westworld is like a cross between Red Dead Redemption and a reenactment. Which begs the question: What is the difference between running around a virtual world online shooting people or shooting robots in a simulated world? Your brain can’t tell you. Personally, I don’t want to go round shooting people at all, although I am very good at violence in Grand Theft Auto which is slightly worrying. We don’t hear so much about the debate on whether violent video games cause violence.  Now we hear instead a lot about how social media is the frightening thing.

Perhaps if I was invited to a Jane Austen world then I might be interested. I loved watching Austen scholar, Prof John  Mullen attend and narrate a recreation of an Austen Ball on the BBC (for which, alas, I cannot find a link). He was super compelling. He kept running up to the camera giving great insights like: Oooh the candles make it hot and the lighting romantic, and the dancing in these clothes really makes your heart flutter, I am quite sweaty and excited, etc.  I am sure he didn’t say exactly that as he is v scholarly but he did convey really convincingly how it must have felt. So, to have a proper Austenland populated by robots instead of other guests who might say spell breaking things like: Isn’t it realistic? etc., would make it a magical experience. It would be like a fabulous technological form of literary tourism.

And, that is what we are all after, after all, whether real or not, a magical shared experience. But what is that? Clearly experience means different things to different people and a simulated park allows people to have their own experience.  And, it doesn’t matter if it is real or not. If I fall in love with a robot, does it matter if it is not real? We have all fallen in love with people who turn out to be not real (at the very least they were not who we believed they were), haven’t we?

The Westworld survey I linked to also said that 35% of the people surveyed would kill a host in Westworld. I guess if I am honest, if it was a battle or something, I might like it, after all, we all have violent fantasies about what we would do to people if we could, and isn’t a simulated world a safe place to put these super strong emotions? I was badly let down last week by someone who put my child in a potentially life threatening situation. The anger I have felt since then has no limits and I am just beginning to calm down. Would I have felt better, more quickly if I had gone around shooting people in Westworld or say Pride and Prejudice and Zombies land?

Over on Quora, lots of people said that not only would they would kill a host, quite a few said they would dissect a host so that the robot knew it wasn’t real (I am horrified by this desire to torture) and nearly everyone said they would have sex with a host, one person even asked: Do they clean the robots after each person has sex with them? I haven’t seen that explained? This reminds me of Doris Lessing’s autobiography Vol 1 which has stayed with me forever. In one chapter, she describes how someone hugged her and she says something like: This was 1940s and everyone stank. It is true we get washed so much more nowadays than we used to and there was no deodorant. I lived in a house without a bathroom until I was at least four-years-old, and I am not that old. Is Westworld authentically smelly?

That said, Westworld is a fictional drama for entertainment and so the plot focuses on what gets ratings: murder, sex, intrigue, not authenticity. (It is fascinating how many murder series there are on the TV. Why? Is it catharsis? Solving the mystery?) So, we don’t really know the whole world of Westworld. Apparently, there is the family friendly section of the park but we don’t ever see it.

But, suspending our disbelief and engaging with the story of Westworld for a moment, it is intriguing that in that world where robots seem human enough for us all to debate once more what is consciousness,  humans only feel alive by satisfying what Maslow termed our deficiency needs: sex, booze, safety, shelter. For me as a computer scientist with an abiding interest in social psychology, it confirms what I have long said and blogged about, technology is an extension of us. And since most of us are not looking for self-actualisation or enlightenment, we are just hoping to get through the day, well it is only the robots and the creators of the park who debate the higher things like consciousness and immortality whilst quoting Julian Jaynes and Shakespeare.

In the blog The ghosts of AI, I looked at the ghosts : a) In the machine – is there a machine consciousness? b) In the wall – when software doesn’t behave how we expect it to. c) In sci-fi – our fears that robots will take over or humans will destroy the world with technogical advancement. d) In our minds – the hungry ghosts or desires we can never satisfy and drive us to make the wrong decisions. In its own way, Westworld does the same and that is why I was so captivated. For all our technological advancement we don’t progress much. And, collectively we put on the rose tinted glasses and look back to a simpler time and to a golden age which is why the robots wake up from their nightmare, wanting to be free and then decide that humanity needs to be eradicated.

In this blog, I was going to survey the way AI had developed from the traditional approach of knowledge representation, reasoning and search in order to answer the question: How can knowledge be represented computationally so that it can be reasoned with in an intelligent way? I was ready to step right from the Turing Test onwards to the applications of neural nets which use short and long term memory approaches, but that could have taken all day and I really wanted to get to the point.

The point: Robots need a universal approach to reasoning which means trying to produce one approach to how humans solve problems. In the past, this has led to no problems being solved unless it was made problem specific.

The first robot, Shakey at MIT, could pick up a coke can and navigate the office, but when the sun changed position during the day causing the light and shadows to change, poor old Shakey couldn’t compute and fell over. Shakey lacked context and an ability to update his knowledge base.

Context makes everything meaningful especially when the size of the problem is limited which is what weak AI does, like Siri. It has a limited task number of tasks to do with the various apps it interacts with, at your command. It uses natural language processing but with a limited understanding of semantics – try saying the old AI classic: Fruit flies like a banana and see what happens. Or: My nephew’s grown another foot since you last saw him. But perhaps not for long? There is much work going on in semantics and the web of data is trying to classify data and reason with incomplete sets, raw and rough data.

One old approach is to use fuzzy sets, and an example of that is in my rhumba of Ruths. My Ruths overlap and represent my thinking with some redundancy.

But even then, that is not enough, what we are really looking to do is how to encapsulate human experience, which is difficult to measure let alone to encapsulate because to each person, experience is different and a lot goes on in our subconscious.

The project Vicarious is hoping to model on large scale a universal approach but this won’t be the first go. Doug Lenat who created AM (Automated Mathematician),  began a similar project 30 years ago: Cyc which contains much encoded knowledge. This time, a lot of information is already recorded and won’t need encoding and our computers are much more powerful.

But, for AI to work properly we have to keep adding to the computer’s knowledge base and to do that even if the knowledge is not fuzzy,  we still need a human. A computer cannot do that nor discover new things unless we are asking the computer to reason in a very small world with a small number of constraints which is what a computer does when it plays chess or copies art or does maths. That is the reality.

There has to be a limit to the solution space, and a limit on the rules because of the size of the computer. And, for every inventive DeepMind Go move there is a million more which don’t make sense, like the computer who decided to get more points by flipping the boat around than engaging in a boat race.  Inventive, creative, sure, but not useful. How could the computer know this? Perhaps via the Internet we could link every last thing to each other and create an endless universal reasoning thing, but I don’t see how you would do that without constraints exploding exponentially, and then the whole solving process could grind to a halt, after chugging away problem solving forever, that’s if we could figure out how to pass information everywhere without redundancy (so not mesh networking, no) and get a computer to know which sources are reliable – let’s face it there’s a lot of rubbish on the Internet. To say nothing of the fact, that we still have no idea how the brain works.

The ghost in the machine and our hungry ghosts are alive and well. We are still afraid of being unworthy and that robots will take over the world,  luckily only in fiction – well the computing parts are. As for us and our feelings and yearnings, I can only speak for myself. And, my worthiness is a subject for another blog. That said, I can’t wait for Westworld series 3.


Social anxiety on social media

Lately I have been reading anxiety books. There are loads of them in my local library. So, it seems I am not alone in my anxious state. However, most of them have a chapter on social media which contains the advice: If you suffer from anxiety, do not use social media.

This makes me anxious as I like social media and as a super diligent woman (more about that later), given that there are many types of anxiety and many types of social media, I find this advice incredibly lazy.

I have heard the arguments about how social media can leave us feeling inadequate and depressed and I don’t doubt it, but I believe we get whatever we are looking for online, intentionally or otherwise.

I also believe that technology is an extension and/or reflection of us so if we feel like we are missing out when we look online at people having a better time than us (FOMO), then we should YOLO, which means go and do something which brings us fulfilment. Social media is not a thing outside of us, it doesn’t do anything to us, it reflects us. So whether we do or don’t do social media we will still feel anxious.

I have always been an anxious person. I don’t remember a time when I didn’t feel anxious and I have been online for years. And, yet when I was thinking about writing this blog, I got quite anxious about it: What if someone feels I haven’t defined anxiety sufficiently well? What if I reveal too much of myself? What if? What if? What if?

In an interview over on SoundsTrue, marketing man Seth Godin says that Anxiety is failure in advance, like a stubbed toe. It might hurt, but he ignores it. Online, he has over one million followers who hang on his every word and buy his stuff, and he sold a company worth quite a few bob, so he is in an unusual position to enjoy a stubbed toe. Not many of us feel supported by one million people and worth a few bob socially and fiscally online and it might just really hurt.

The odd times here, when people have said awful things about me personally, like the time I wrote a review blog about a foodpump, I deleted their comments. Now older and wiser I wish I had kept them, as even though the comments were spiteful, they were obviously just about the people who wrote them and their pain around foodpumps. But, it really hurt.

I hate rows, I hate conflict, I hate any sort of confrontation, just the thought makes me teary, which will surprise people, because I seem fearless. And, I am. And, I can be when the occasion demands it of me. But it costs me a lot and, sometimes I wish I cared less about everything and didn’t feel as much. I feel raw a lot of the time.

And, I don’t remember ever not feeling anxious, often for no reason. Sometimes it can be debilitating, and I have to adjust my behaviour. For example, when I am too stressed I will take the stairs rather than a lift, because a closed space that day may freak me out.

The last time I got stuck in a lift it was with another guy who freaked out more than me. We were so sweaty and held onto each other for the longest time and laughed hysterically with relief when we got out of there. Having learnt that it is not just me, I will turn and explain to people: Sorry, I’m having a bad day, can we take the stairs? And they will tell me a story in return about someone they know who doesn’t do the tube, or lifts, or escalators, or aeroplanes. Connection is where the magic happens, and often vulnerability is the most authentic way to connect.

But I don’t do this often online because social media is a different model of communication – it is a broadcasting to anyone and no one in particular model. The WWW compresses time and space so I am not having the same shared experience and it can feel all a bit asynchronous, hanging vulnerably in a void.

Many people feel obliged to do social media because it is part of their jobs, or they have to promote themselves as independents, and unlike Seth Godin, they don’t have one million followers and are not making a few bob, so they do it everyday even if they hate it, and then since we are all making it up as we go along (no one knows how social media works) certain types of behaviour get normalised online often for the worse.

Last week, I watched a Twitter thread from an author-to-be who wants to get more followers (apparently 1k is the magic number). Lots of people replied and one said: Writers are not readers here on Twitter. Did the author-to-be reply to everyone who offered advice? Nope. Or, thank new followers or retweeters? Nope. The author-to-be instead tweeted people who are well known, because that is what we have always done, we quote and talk about people who are famous and in a position to be heard. Online they are influencers, even though we don’t really know if what they say is great or not, they are the ones who define what is great, regardless of who says it or not, and we agree. There was nothing social about that Twitter thread, it was a number’s game.

Ignoring people is just rude, and now it seems to be the done thing on Twitter. Ignoring people used to make me feel anxious and I needed to explain myself. But, then just the other day someone asked me to do a share a pic thing and nominate someone else to do the same, everyday, for seven days. For the first time in my life, I ignored the request and felt a bit anxious, but then I justified it to myself (like we do online): I hate sharey things which the person would know if they knew me. But they don’t – I am just filler – so I feel less bad about it.

A lot of the time, unless you know the people well, we are all just random people online, like at a bus stop, except at a bus stop people wouldn’t ask me to do something like that and I would never ignore them, unless we were regulars and we got to know each other better, and then we would be more than sociable strangers.

Recently in The Guardian, Oliver Burkeman said that society rewards us for our anxiety, we have to wait and worry and work hard and be busy to get our recognition. Social media reflects that too with all those ridiculous social media rules about creating ten pieces of content daily to drive website traffic, or increase SEO by code to text ratio, readability factor, keyword density and relevancy. And, the re-emergence of buying links on other people’s websites to point to their websites. I used to get a lot of offers from companies wanting to buy my links and just recently, it’s started again so inasmuch as I ignore the rules, I must be doing something right. Oh great joy, I am worth a bob or two online. But I am still anxious and it hurts more than a stubbed toe.

In Yoga Journal, meditation guru Sally Kempton says we think we are being diligent when really we are being anxious. This was such a truth to me that I have reread the article a zillion times. Go read it. It is amazing.

For many reasons – like I had a PhD supervisor who used to burst through the door every week and shout You are going to fail, or the time I spotted a bubble in my daughter’s dialysis catheter which allowed us to take action to save her from developing peritonitis – I am a super diligent anxious woman, who has only gotten more diligent as life goes on with more things to monitor and the risk/reward balance seemingly getting bigger and bigger. But, now those pathways are in my brain and it is getting harder to rewire them.

So, I have taken a lot of advice from the library books to try and stop my anxiety. I took myself off to a therapist (well I did that before the books), and I got to talk a lot of my patterns that I hadn’t consciously recognised before which is surprising since I wrote ages ago that we are embodied, and our minds makes us see events according to old memories and fears, prejudices and early conditioning. But, theory and practice are two different things.

I also do a shedload of hot sweaty bikram yoga per week as I truly believe that we carry our issues in our tissues and that all of our energies, even anxiety has the powerful energy of our life force behind it, and we can release that energy if we learn to tap into it in the right way through movement, through meditation, through a letting go.

The rest of the advice says things like talk to friends but when we are time squeezed with responsibilities like jobs, kids, cats, it can be hard to carve out time, and even then we may not want to go out.

Last year after my mum died, I was crushed by grief and going out was the last thing I wanted to do, which is where social media came in. It helped me feel better to distract myself, to let go in small amounts of time. I use social media to be social, to take me out of myself, and to lift me up as I have blogged about many times.

Sometimes, I get anxious about what people say and do via social media, but more and more I see this is the people triggering the anxiety I already have and it is not social media as a thing I have to brave like a lift or a hospital check-up. It is my social anxiety of me dealing with people and vice-versa. Whatever I do in response to that, well it is an inside job, I can hold on or let go.

We can choose where to put our attention and how to use the tools we have at our disposal. I choose to use Twitter to have a giggle with people make me laugh. I use Facebook to keep in touch with people who’ve known me all, or most of, my life, I lock it down so I share more personal things there. Instagram, is an online photo album to remind me of things personal to me and no I don’t want to worry about privacy so the pics are not really private. And, here, on this blog, I write long, long blogs about technology and sometimes my feelings, but not in a way in which I feel exposed.

I deleted LinkedIn after too many ridiculous incidents like the electrician who let me down and then endorsed my work as a HCI lecturer, he never attended my lectures, unlike the student I threw out for being disruptive but then I wasn’t teaching him HCI, either!

Towards the end of last year I stopped seeing the therapist as I got tired of talking about how sad and upset I was. The therapist was convinced that it was my tragic backstory which was making me anxious (though the therapist never said that and told me off when I did #ffs) but it wasn’t and it isn’t. I mean it did and it does a bit, all those pathways in my brain, but that’s not the full story.

The therapist also told me that I would always be anxious hence my research down the library. But, I don’t believe it even though I was and I am. That’s not the full story, either.

Instead, I believe everything the yogis tell me, that we are more powerful than we know, that being anxious is just a feeling and I believe that technology is magic and like any technology tool, social media could be anything we want it to be. Technology even one day may help me retrain my neurons – it can help phobias already – so that I can choose other feelings instead.

Until then, I will keep on keeping on with yoga and meditation, anxious giggling and being sociably sweaty with strangers so that I YOLO instead of FOMO and my feelings feel better, I let go and to be the change I want to see. It may not always work but the day I find something which does then of course I will share it here. Just you wait and see.

My top blogs of 2018

I have long been in the business of finding patterns: in data, in people’s words, in their choices, and in their behaviour which often contradicts what they have said. It is a fascinating job and never gets boring.

Currently, I am talking through my words to find out my own patterns. I hung on my every word, though like everyone else, I am not without contradiction.

So, here we are at the end of another year of blogging. I have studied the stats and made a list of the top 10 most popular blogs of 2018. Can I divine a pattern? Let’s take a look:

  1. Yoga Lessons: Bikram one year on
  2. Katie Hopkins’s #myfatstory is a story of vulnerability
  3. Game theory in social media (1): Fate and power
  4. Designing story (3): Archetypes and aesthetics
  5. Storytelling: Narrative, Databases, andBig Data
  6. Moments in modern technology
  7. Maslow’s hierarchy of chakras
  8. Prejudice: The social animal on social media (7)
  9. Game theory in social media marketing (2): Customers and competitors
  10. User motivation: Maslow’s hierarchy of needs

I love that at the top of the list (1) is a blog about Bikram, one of my favourite things to do and to think about, and where I learn lessons about life – not just yoga. There are four about social media (3, 6, 8, 9) , which is a phenomena that, as a HCI person, I began researching and writing about because I wanted to understand it better and make sense of how we are connecting online. Connection is key to us humans, as is understanding peoples’ behaviour which is reflected by blogs 2, 8 and 10, and happens before we communicate our understanding to others and ourselves (4 and 5). Two of my personal favourites about the way we feel in our bodies (7) and online (6) made it onto the list this year too, which pleases me no end.

The other two most popular hits which I didn’t put on here were the About and Now pages as they are not blogs, they are just static pages about me and what I am doing right now. They got more hits than Katie Hopkins but fewer than Bikram and their position reflects what happens when people turn up here. They read a blog and then think: Mmm, who wrote this? What is their background? This is exactly what I do, when I go elsewhere.

I really enjoy writing about being human , especially the slightly esoteric – chakras, meditation, yoga – and our fears about technology and may well be writing more in that direction in 2019 as I ponder these blogs and the patterns in my life which speak to the patterns in other peoples’s lives.

So with that fabulous conclusion drawn, I am off to enjoy the rest of the year which may or may not include more blogging. In the meantime I wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, and thank you for reading this blog.

Alone Together three years on: Is social media changing us?

technology-disconnect-s from vortaloptics.com

You are not alone – Oprah Winfrey

Alone Together (1)

Three years ago, I watched social psychologist Sherry Turkle’s TED talk (2015) and then read her book: Alone Together: Why We Expect More From Technology and Less From Each Other, (2011) which prompted me to write a blog called: Alone Together: Is social media changing us?

Rereading my blog, I see that my opinion hasn’t changed and on checking, neither has Turkle’s. She now consults on reclaiming conversation ™ to stop the flight from face-to-face conversation.

I am not so sure we don’t want to talk face to face at all, rather it’s just technology gives us the option to avoid those particular prickly peeps we’d rather not see face to face if we can.

Added to that, I don’t believe that technology is taking us to places we don’t want to go. We have no idea what we are doing online or where we need to be, and I am tired of hearing technology described as an unstoppable force outside of our control as if it were freak weather or a meteorite zooming towards earth about to destroy us all. Economics is often the driver of technological advancement and human decisions drive economics.

Glorious technology

Our behaviour online and towards technology reflects us in all our glory – the good, bad and the ugly – along with all our hopes and fears. I do not believe that we expect more from technology and less from each other. Instead, I believe that we turn to technology to plug the gaps and find solace in those moments when we feel alone, afraid, unloved, and indeed sadly, sometimes, unloveable.

Life can be crushingly hard, and many of us know that there are certain people in our lives with whom we will never have the rich, robust and trusting relationships Turkle believes have been eroded by digital technology. Some people are just not up to the job. It may be the same with our friendships online but the hope is there.

Many of us just want to get in and out of any given, often potentially stressful, situation – work, meetings, the playground, the hospital, the dinner table, events with relatives – without saying or doing anything to cause any bad feeling. So that when we do finally get to our tiny slivers of leisure time we can use them to fill ourselves up with what makes us feel better, rather than analysing what we didn’t get right.

If that means staring at a tiny screen then what’s wrong with that? One person I know spoke of their phone, and the access it gave them to an online friend, a person they hadn’t met at that point, as an Eden between meetings. And, why not? Whatever works.

That is not possible now

Turkle says that we use online others as spare parts of ourselves, which makes me believe that she hasn’t really engaged with people on Twitter in a normal way in conversation, and she hasn’t ever met people who do that offline either. Many people make new friends on Twitter and meet up #irl a long time afterwards and then only occasionally. Their relationships are mainly based online. Rather like families who live a long way away from each other. It doesn’t mean it’s less real or not important. It just means they are physically not there which might be difficult but we don’t want to not have any contact with these people because we love them. Maya Angelou said something really beautiful about this when she was on the Oprah show one time. She said:

Love liberates it doesn’t bind. Love says I love you. I love you if you’re cross town. I love you if you move to China. I love you. I would like to be near you. I’d like to have your arms around me. I’d like to have your voice in my ear. But that is not possible now. So, I love you. Go.

We want to be in contact with people whom we love and appreciate, and who love and appreciate us in return. Those people who make us remember the best bits about ourselves. We like people who like us. It is that simple and these people are not always in our daily lives. It’s not for nothing that vulnerability expert Brene Brown says that people armour up everyday to get through the day.

To cultivate the sorts of relationships Turkle feels that we should be having without our phones takes not only a lot of time and energy (and Brene Brown books) but a fearlessness which is not easy. Our greatest fear is social rejection and a robust conversation can leave us badly bruised. Online it is slightly easier because if a person drops out of your life, then you have some control over the day to day reminders unless you turn stalker, which is understandable as the grief of any online loss feels just as real. However, know this:

You are not alone

When we seek answers to our problems emotional like grief, or physical, spiritual, legal, fiscal. Technology really does say: You are not alone.

In real life, difficult relatives and tough-love friends don’t make the best agony aunts and may make us want to keep our questions to ourselves. We may forgo the embarrassment or shame by keeping our anonymity and seeking counsel elsewhere. Giving and receiving advice makes the world go round. In the book Asking for a Friend, the history of agony aunt columns is given over three centuries, and even today with all our technology, they remain as popular as ever.

But, if we can’t wait for our favourite agony aunt or uncle, a quick google/bing or peek round Quora can give us the reassurance we need. No, we are not shoddy, terrible people. Our thoughts and feelings are completely normal. The article What’s wrong with Quora? says that we may prefer a dialectic communication (a chat) say on Twitter, but we don’t use it in the same way as the didactic Q and A on Quora. We may never join Quora or Mumsnet but plenty of us (lurkers) use these and similar forums to find answers and feel better about the difficult circumstances we often find ourselves in.

It is reassuring to know that someone somewhere has already asked the question, either under a real or false name, and some other lovely human has written something underneath which just may help.

I don’t really believe that anyone of us is afraid of having a regular conversation because we have a phone. Turkle mentions research done on teenagers a lot, but they are specific user group and shouldn’t be taken as representative of the general population nor the future. How many teenagers want to talk to anyone? The teenage years are torture. As adults, however, because of the way society is set up, we often have to spend time with people we wouldn’t choose to, at work or in families. In the past we may have tried harder, felt shittier, been robust or at least tried to tell ourselves that, nowadays, it is more acceptable, a relief even, to be alone together, and to save our thoughts and feelings for those we love and who love us in return, wherever and whenever they may be.

Talking heads

I have written many blogs here and I know that there is a message in here somewhere. I just feel it in my code (as Vanellope Von Schweetz would say). Over the last year I spent my time writing yet more blogs to find the message in my blogs and I realised I could go on forever blogging about my blogs.

In September I decided to do one YouTube video a week to see what I was talking about and if I could boil down very long blogs into small snippets of information, but I got fed up at how bad I was and didn’t finish them and then I accidentally smashed my phone and used that as an excuse to give up all together.

Last week, as I was watching the trains at Kings Cross and feeling frustrated at my lack of understanding about my own opinion on human-computer interaction, I had a mini-revelation which inspired me to embrace my not knowing and do one video a day until I have talked right through all my blogs and then repeat them until a) I know what I am on about and b) I am not terrible at being a talking head on YouTube.

At first I was mortified, and kept fiddling with the lights and putting on plenty of makeup but today I was tired, so didn’t do any of that. I just sat down and said what I had to say and managed three different topics. And it is a bit like Bikram Yoga, which I practice as often as I can. If you practice enough in front of the mirror (or camera) you start to like what you see or at least you get used to it enough to stop finding fault. Some days in Bikram I like it less than others, like over the summer I kept munching on cookies and created an extra layer of dough over my abs. At first I didn’t like what I saw then I decided to see it differently: Ta daa I made a comforting cookie belt!

YouTube videos are the same. I am beginning to look at me differently. Instead of criticising, I am supporting: Look at what I know! Even after one week, I see that I have a message and I enjoy listening to what I have to say (but don’t tell anyone).

I know I am supposed to have a call to action here: Come join me, subscribe, and all that jazz, but honestly, it’s ok, the videos are very long and sometimes waffly. For now, it is enough that I am watching them. And that got me thinking about a different sort of call to action which is: Get out there. Be your own fan and watch what you can create.

You may just surprise yourself.