Interview with Instantbight

So I’m here with David, who’s in grade eight, and he’s an interviewer and blogger for instantbight, which is something he started – tell me David, how did this all come about?

It is really a corny story. I was walking in the woods with my mom and dad and they were talking about colleges for my brother and jobs for my sister. I was hearing so much about the “real world.” I thought to myself…why does the real world have to start off with your graduation from college? Why can’t an eighth grader get a head start. So on the way home from the hike I said…I am going to start a blog. After hearing only words of encouragement from my parents I made From there the blog moved from reviews to designs, to my current format of interviews.

Are you looking into journalism as a potential career thing?

It’s funny you asked! My brother is actually considering that route but I am more interested in design and entrepreneurial work. I really want to do something creative, something that keeps my attention (and hopefully makes some cash) :).

Grade eight. What’s it like being so young and swimming with everyone else in the internet? Any specific advantages or disadvantages that you’ve found?

It is amazing. I think I am at a huge advantage! One thing that I can say is that being an eighth grader and all is that I have no shame in contacting people that won’t contact back. People are on one side or the other. They either like the fact that I am young or they don’t. But over all I think my age is a benefit.

It says you’re a dragon slayer. Skyrim? What else have you been playing lately / excited to come out?

I actually don’t have any video games. Never have and probably never will. The dragon slayer occupation is really just because I think dragons are cool but still wreak to much havoc on villages. In my spare time I watch a lot of TV and play a lot of basketball.

What do you like most about interviewing people?

I like seeing what people say when they are asked questions. Questions are really amazing but answers are even more interesting. I love to meet(email with) new people and interviewing is a great way to do that!

Awesome. Well, thanks for coming out and sharing, David.

Thanks so much!

On: Selling Dreams

“If you want to build a ship, don’t herd people together to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.”

– Antoine de Saint-Exupery

This goes back to what I was saying earlier.



“I actually attack the concept of happiness. I don’t mind people being happy – but the idea that everything we do is part of the pursuit of happiness seems to me a really dangerous idea and has led to a contemporary disease in Western society, which is fear of sadness. It’s a really odd thing that we’re now seeing people saying “write down 3 things that made you happy today before you go to sleep”, and “cheer up” and “happiness is our birthright” and so on. We’re kind of teaching our kids that happiness is the default position – it’s rubbish. Wholeness is what we ought to be striving for and part of that is sadness, disappointment, frustration, failure; all of those things which make us who we are. Happiness and victory and fulfillment are nice little things that also happen to us, but they don’t teach us much. Everyone says we grow through pain and then as soon as they experience pain they say “Quick! Move on! Cheer up!” I’d like just for a year to have a moratorium on the word “happiness” and to replace it with the word “wholeness”. Ask yourself “is this contributing to my wholeness?” and if you’re having a bad day, it is.”

Hugh Mackay

Spot on.

I’m rarely upset but I’m entirely fine with the state we call sadness. Friends have often raised an eyebrow at my philosophy but the above quote summarizes it really well: happiness isn’t actually my goal. My goal is contentedness, wholeness. Anyway, I’ve touched on this before. Twice. So I won’t get into it again.

In related news I bought Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance yesterday and so far it’s been really good.

The bird, above, is a photo I took a few years back and the flipping effect was probably one of the first tutorials I wrote for the then newly hatched Acrylo.

Death Clock

The perfect campy horror movie title, no doubt.

We were talking about it the other day: you have a set number of hours in your life. We all know this. We don’t like to think about it, but it’s nonetheless a fact: no one gets out alive.

As a Canadian male my life expectancy is about 81 years. 710046 hours. Getting to this point right now took up about 168315 of them. That leaves me with 693233 left.


And, since waking up this morning about three and a half of them have slipped by, forever removed.

But I don’t see this as much a gloom and doom as a reminder of how valuable time itself is. Time isn’t money – money is time. How much would somebody have to pay you to take one of those hours off your counter? You only have a limited amount of them. $1000? $100? Or… $9.50? Minimum wage.

There’s been a lot of existentialist thought going on in the past few weeks with my rapidly upcoming graduation and that ejection from the womb of academia, and I guess that’s what it comes down to for me. Sure, I could be a doctor or a lawyer and make ridiculous amounts of money per hour, but it I hate what I do, what’s the point? Like, all that money just goes into trying to live at the end of your life – trying to undo all the damage you did working like a mad man the first chunk of your life. It’s bizarre to me.

And the Dalai Lama too, apparently:


Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money.
Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health.
And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present;
the result being that he does not live in the present or the future;
he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.”

I’d like to construct a giant hourglass, with enough sand to last until my theoretical death, and put it on a shelf or somewhere where I can always see it. A reminder. Both to hustle, but also to live. To be awesome. Not about houses or cars or show boats. About taking each of those hours and making something awesome out of them.

And, if I live to see the day when it eventually runs out of sand I can watch that last grain fall and laugh, because I’ve then beaten the average. In a fate of cruel irony, moments later I’d be struck by a heart attack or something and that’d be okay, because I’d still have gotten that much more out of life. And that moment would be awesome.

Samsung looking under the wrong rocks

The everpresent MG has some reasonable words regarding this quote by Samsung’s Chris Moseley:

TVs are ultimately about picture quality. Ultimately. How smart they are…great, but let’s face it that’s a secondary consideration. The ultimate is about picture quality and there is no way that anyone, new or old, can come along this year or next year and beat us on picture quality.


but an even more immediate example comes to mind: have you watched a streaming Netflix movie recently? My internet connection is no slouch and it looks terrible. But, I watch it because of the content and because it’s still easier / cheaper / faster / more convenient than driving to the store and buying the Bluray. Same with Youtube, granted in a different capacity. But we put up with some pretty abhorrent quality given the ability that’s already there (compressed 640×480 videos stretched to a 1920×1280 screen? Really? Because we can’t wait for buffering…)

So picture quality: Pfft. Convenience. Ease. Now.

And if Samsung doesn’t pick up on that quick they’ll go the same way Kodak did recently – trampled by their own failure to move.

Geekpreneur Article

I’m not sure if this’ll create some sort of blogception, but I’m posting about the post about this very blog.

Geekpreneur interviewed me with regards to my blogging and looking at what inspires me to keep writing. The final result reads well and I’m really glad to contribute when helping other people.

So, you can read their article here, and the full transcript of my answers are as follows:

How long have you been running your blog?

I’ve been running for seven or eight months now, which is still really young. It’s a new venture to take over the blog I had been writing for just under four years without direction; it was just a blog to write about whatever I wanted whereas Acrylo is more structured and planned. I wanted to take what I’d learned about writing and curating and go back to the drawing board to design something more cohesive and matured.

And how often do you update it?

It depends on how busy I am, and a bit to do with the seasons: typically, it’s averaging two posts a day, but four or five isn’t unusual if I’m particularly free on a holiday weekend or something. I try to post at least one thing a day to appease both my readers and myself – it’s a discipline to write sometimes, but I think it’s good for you in the end.

Why did you decide to write a blog?

Originally, the old blog started when I was in high school as a way to host my photography. Flickr had a limit unless you paid, but you could start a WordPress blog with like, 3GBs of free hosting. Over time I started adding photos from other people as an inspirational segment and it evolved from there into a curated publication.

Is your blog meeting its goals? If not, why not?

I’m content with the progress so far. My goal isn’t to be widespread or famous but to explore design and publish those thoughts. I look at the big, well known blogs and they’re fantastic for posting new things and cool things but they don’t go into much depth on the things they post – I make up the other end of that spectrum. It’s a journal of thoughts and there’s a small market for that, but I blog more for myself than anyone. Learn by teaching.

What’s been the biggest challenge of updating your blog?

Time, mostly. But as mentioned above, I feel like it’s an important discipline to have.

What must a blog do to reflect who you are to employers?

It’s a narrative. A resume can be written by anybody with any intention, but to consistently write down your thoughts and explore topics shows who you really are and where you’re really coming from. It’s an honesty, I guess. A transparency.

Finally, what advice would you have for other designers considering writing a blog to promote their services?

Write about what you love, not about what you think is going to be popular. The passion shows through and people will know if you’re just writing because someone told you to. It’s a lot of work, and in the beginning won’t gain much traffic but soldier on and enjoy writing instead of worrying about numbers. It’s not really about spam promoting your services as much as putting what you do out there and letting it spread naturally.

on Learning

“The bad news is it’s broken. The good news is I don’t know how to fix it.” “Why is that good news?” “Because if I already knew how to fix it, I wouldn’t learn anything!”

This guy has got it figured out. Respect.

Why the iPhone 4S has already won

A video shot on the iPhone 4S from Benjamin Dowie on Vimeo.

The hard part about writing these sorts of things is the audience: the people who will read this and get will probably agree because they’re experienced it before and then I’m preaching to the choir, the people who read this and not get it will assume I’m some mindless Apple fanboy and dismiss me entirely.

I assure you I’m objective. It just so happens that the iPhone truly is rocking it in ways that the old school won’t understand.

In two parts: First, above is a video shot with the new iPhone which is quite nice and features the new DoF (depth of field) the phone’s camera has. It’s a five element lens and even if the sensor is smaller than your pinky fingernail it seems to hold it’s own against the proven DSLR sized sensors. The sad thing, to me, is that the consumer market will only see one number: 8MP. Then, they’ll write this number down and go over to the Droid section and see some other number and make a buying decision based on which is higher or lower. They miss the point entirely.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll repeat the specs we used to use aren’t nearly as important as the ones we should be using.

We used to measure megapixels because that actually made a difference. It doesn’t now. I keep my DSLR at around 3MP, does that make the photos worse? No. It just means I don’t want 5MB photo files because they take up unnecessary space. The MP spec is almost useless now because it’s topped out to a practical limit. You don’t need any more than that. So, instead, we add cool things like DoF which is incredibly important for both still and video taking. Does that make it to the spec sheet? Not really.

Second: Siri.

Okay, so there’s been a huge hubbub lately about this Siri and so far it’s been pretty positive. I appreciate sites like these because although they’re often immature, there is a message in all of it. People can, in fact, bond to virtual things. It’s sort of like those virtual pets you had as a kid. You felt sad when it died, right? Just a little bit. I’ve been exploring this topic for a few months now and I think Siri is the perfect capstone to the idea that we can, in fact, design that emotional connection. Of course we know most of it is pre-programmed messages, but as long as it’s convincing, it works.

Steve Troughton-Smith on Twitter has it completely right in his two part megatweet:

You realize that Siri, by anthropomorphizing the iPhone, creates a huge mental lock-in to your smartphone? You just can’t ditch her. … The iPhone becomes more like a pet and so many people will develop an intense emotional bond with it. This is marketing GOLD.

Even beyond being marketing gold (which it is) it’s a reminder of the old designers. I’m thinking mostly of the Eames here. They worked as toy makers and movie makers and knew how people responded to objects. They injected that bonding to their designs which, given the MCM context they exist, is remarkable to say the least.

So it’s inspiring, really. We have chairs made of walnut and leather that grow with you, and we have a brick made of glass and aluminum that will grow and bond with you, and the difference between that and some generic version of the item is very honest, intentional design.

And that, is the thing people comparing RAM counts on spec sheets will never understand. It doesn’t matter.

Stay hungry, stay foolish

I’m guessing, by now, you’ve heard the news, so I won’t belabor that. I just wanted to throw my humble voice into the crowds who are outpouring similar sentiments.

For me, as a young, budding industrial designer it’s so much more than a brand. It’s not about computers or phones or the impressive amounts of profits. It’s about a man with humble beginnings who believed he could make a difference. This is where I struggle: I’m too much a realist. Not everyone with dreams will achieve them. But by the same token, believing that is exactly what will keep you from achieving them. So believe despite the statistics. Believe in order to fight the statistics.

It’s crazy for me to think that there are people who went to school with him. People who liked racecars with him in kindergarten and people who played basketball with him in gym class. Some people graduated in his class, and they all threw their hats up in the air together. And yet, why don’t I know their names?

This is a story about passion. This is a man who woke up in the morning and rolled out of bed with raw, pure desire in him. A vision for the world that he dreamed about the night previous. This is a man who didn’t quit until he made it a reality. Anyone can dream, those former classmates who we’ve never heard of, they probably have dreams. But Steve Jobs did it.

And this is where I draw so much inspiration from. This is what makes me so strongly emotional. I’m sad to hear of any death, of course, it’s never pleasant, but it’s a sort of bittersweet thing. A poetic thing. Here’s a man who knew he was going to die someday and wanted to make the most out of the days he did live, and look at the results. Why aren’t I doing the same thing? Why aren’t we as a society?

It’s a kick in the butt as well. A remainder of our frailty and mortal weaknesses. This is a man who was very recently the top of the richest companies in the world, and all of that money could not save him. Money is not the end goal. The cars, the houses, the stuff. It fades away. He made a change, an honest, genuine difference in how humans interact with machines. It’s not about screen sizes or RAM amounts or anything. It’s about the vision of what humans should be able to do. He designed it for us.

So I look at my own life, the one ahead of me. I’d love to leave such a legacy, of course, but that’s not the goal. The fame, the money, that’s not the goal for me. I want to make change. I want to improve people’s lives with design. I’m not afraid of death itself, I’m afraid of dying before I can improve someone else’s life first.

And I deeply thank people like Steve for putting that thought, that desire into my head. I do it for you, man. Thank you.

Stay hungry, stay foolish. Think different.

Free Range Chicken Theory

I would repost the entire thing if I could. Just go over and read it, seriously.

It applies to you as a person, be it in design or wherever. It applies as to the products you make or sell. It will make you more popular to everyone around you and they will crown you with “Mr. / Mrs. Popularity” for that entire year. So again, read it now.

Some quotes:



Products are very much like this. If you’ve had something for a long time and it’s become a part of your identity you do tend to forgive it’s shortcomings more readily. Likewise, when it becomes broken or slightly off, you feel somewhat sad, slightly sympathetic, like you would if you found out your friend was really sick.






Again, I would attribute some of Apple’s success simply because it was the anti-Microsoft. People saw it (because they advertised it as such) as this scrappy underdog who valiantly fought against this stale, monolithic corporation. People automatically saw flaws in Windows and thought “Hey, I’ll bet Mac doesn’t do that.” even if it weren’t true (there are lots of flaws both share) which is how the advertising stuck – they made enemies. “You’re frustrated with Windows? So are we. Come join us.” is what the honest slogan would be. And it’s incredibly, incredibly effective.

Do this, you’ll win.

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