If you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original.
— Sir Ken Robinson


I turn 50 today. A fact I find very hard to believe as I feel the same as I always have, just lighter and faster.

The day started with hugs and handmade cards from the kids while I drank my first strong cup of coffee for the day. Next up was a slow 5K run around the nearby track – in this heat with each 5k I lose about 1kg of water weight.

The day continued with a trip to the FamilyMart to call a taxi from the service console there. Thanks to what must be a powerful lobby group, Taiwan seems to have outlawed Uber and has no real local alternative. I miss the convenience of 滴滴出行. The taxi delivered me to Fe21 where I watched the first of two ridiculous movies I had planned for the day, The Mummy and the slightly more torturous Transformers. I enjoy being entertained by the silliness of Hollywood movies with their high production values and sometimes great production art. Lunch was at my favorite coffee shop Ink Café where I enjoyed a latte, sandwich and salad, and some free sweet they were handing out.

The day ended takeout sashimi from our local favorite, cheesecake from again, Ink Café, and a late night glass of whiskey with a group of Sheryl’s colleagues. Being tired my introversion shined, but I was delighted to hear people talk about topics of a great deal more depth than what the youngsters I had the pleasure to be around in China talk about. Even more delightful, this was a group of people who actually paid attention to one another. In China, you could have diner with a group of people and they would spend the majority of their time looking at their phone screens.

But for an increased drive to see, experience, and do much more, I have no real change in plans for the 2nd half of my life. It’s more of a feeling that things are just getting started vs. starting to wind down.

A recent Pew Research Center survey of 1,408 technology and education professionals suggested that the most valuable skills in the future will be those that machines can’t yet easily replicate, like creativity, critical thinking, emotional intelligence, adaptability and collaboration. In short, people need to learn how to learn, because the only hedge against a fast-changing world is the ability to think, adapt and collaborate well.
The most forward-thinking, future-proof college in America teaches every student the exact same stuff

Newstand in Fuzhou

I love these newsstands scattered throughout Fuzhou. They are reminiscent of what I have seen in Paris and to a lesser extent Hong Kong. Unfortunately they have largely been transformed into places to buy cigarettes and/or water, and in what I have seen in Paris, they remain to sell items for tourists. What a good opportunity these represent as a community hub where you can have an opportunity to meet people or connect with someone who sees the comings and goings of the neighborhood. Maybe if they offered free wifi and a charging station it might entice people to linger.

A quick departure

NetDagon’s very impressive ChangLe campus attracts allot of new recruits and tour groups. Really well done and the whole campus is incredibly well maintained. Missing from the picture is the new executive “borg like” apartments on the right. While it deserves all the attention it receives, it becomes obvious over time that the campus and office buildings were designed more for the “wow”, than for the needs of employees.

Some decisions are difficult. While I am really excited to be returning to Taiwan for these next few months and have a direct impact on a new company’s product, I can’t help but feel a tiny bit of disappointment that I am leaving China early without accomplishing all I had set out to do (it was a big list). I’m a bit of an outlier, an odd duck, for a lot of good reasons, but instead of wasting time trying to fit a square peg into a round hole, I thought it best to part ways, quickly, and on friendly terms.

I hope to write more about my experience in the coming weeks

Travel Tip: For the love of God, stand at least 10 feet away from the luggage carousel at airports when awaiting your luggage. Avoid human pile-ups. Respect your fellow travelers and only approach when you see your bag. Occasionally, you’ll catch the glance of another observant traveller and just nod in silent frustration.
Jamie Rupp, Founder/Designer, Relwen

Good design means not leaving traces of the design, and not overworking the design.

People shouldn’t really have to think about an object when they are using it. Not having to think about it makes the relationship between a person and an object run more smoothly.

(The principle of) Design dissolves in behavior is about finding products beautiful not simply because of the way they look, but from the experience of interacting with them.
Naoto Fukasawa from Szita, Jane. “Without a Trace.” Dwell Sept. 2006: 134-140

To be minimalist …

I believe we have to get away from the idea of minimalism as a style and instead understand it as a way of thinking about space: its proportions, its surfaces, and the fall of light. The vision is comprehensive and seamless, a quality of space rather than forms; places, not things.

Minimalism is not an architecture of self-denial, deprivation or absence: it is defined not by what is not there, but by the rightness of what is there and by the richness with which this is experienced.

…the glory lies not in the act of removal, but in the experience of what is left. Profound – and pleasurable – experience is located in ordinary experience: in the taking of a shower or the preparation of food.

For me, comfort is synonymous with a state of total clarity where the eye, the mind and the physical body are at ease, where nothing jars or distracts. This emphasis on a quality of experience is important. Some people seem to have an idea that the only role the individual has in such spaces is the capacity to contaminate. In the sort of work that interests me, the antithesis is true: the individual is always at its heart.
John Pawson

Fujian “Soundart”

I returned to China yesterday after a 3 month absence. There is much to write about the past 3 months and my return to working here, but I think the above video might be a good start. This was what I was greeted with at 5:55am today. Still suffering from the worst jet lag I’ve ever experienced I was up at 3am anyway, but only here would they be allowed to produce such soul destroying noise this early in the day (and it’s been going non-stop for 8 months). This may be a contributing factor as why most of my colleagues are now spending there time away from this campus.