“The newsletter challenged me to take a step back from the business of my life and to think deeply. Your content is intellectually stimulating and refreshing — just had a wave of peace wash over me.”

“It's not often people in technology and entrepreneurship convey the depth of thought as you do in Fakepixels."

"Reading your newsletter is like taking a breath of fresh air I didn't know I needed, and, after reading, returning to the world with a nuance of new perspective that enhances my quality of life.”

Fakepixels is a publication for courageous ideas that pursues complex thinking, technical imagination, and deep empathy to renew our hope for the near future.

Tell us about Fakepixels! What goes into a newsletter? What's the curation process?

Fakepixels is a community and media platform that unites original, thoughtful, and courageous minds from all lanes of lives to reimagine the future shaped by technology and innovation. 

The emphasis is on originality and thoughtfulness. The barrier of creating and spreading ideas has been significantly lowered by social media.Yet ubiquity and accessibility of the new media come also at a cost of independent thinking. Walls are built, camps are picked. People are angry, and anxious, and people with different opinions can no longer have a productive conversation. The name “Fakepixels” is largely inspired largely by one of my favorite writers/philosophers Jorge Luis Borges, who challenges reality and our perception of it. We want to offer paths, instead of a singular path to the future. We want to challenge borders, and walls, and power, and eventually get to a place with more a nuanced and actionable understanding that doesn’t paralyze actions, but inspire them. 

One way we challenge the status quo and foster original thinking is through the type of content and people we include on the platform. We focus on creation as much as curation, and we believe even the curation that we do is part of creation, the creation of a new perspective. For everything we include in an issue, we ask ourselves: does this help someone see the world differently? Does this fill them with hope and optimism for the future? Does this encourage people to create and take actions? 

Let's talk about your operating principles! What's the significance of framing certain values as more important than others? Which one is hardest for you to live by?

Through dialogues and col­laboration, we agree upon a common vision that guides our thinking. The vision consists of a shared set of assumptions about our discipline, including what constitutes good work, how to work, what subjects are worth working on, and how to think about them. Creating values and principles is like creating an operating manual. When we make difficult decisions — both personally and creatively — principles help us stay true to our mission. 

Here’s a list we agree upon:

love > fear

nuance > polarity

emergence > authority

systems > objects

disobedience > compliance

resilience > power

doing > talking

The hardest is probably “emergence > authority” and “resilience > power”. Emergence means that we believe the biggest change we’ll see in the world in this decade will come from the aggregation of collective actions, instead of an order from the top. The classic illustration of resilience over strength is the story of the reed and the oak tree. When hurricane winds blow, the oak shatters, while the supple, resilient reed bows low and springs up again when the storm has passed. In trying to resist failure, the oak has instead guaranteed it. The stability and prosperity promised by authority and power are becoming fragile in an ever more transparent society, both emergence and resilience require radical empathy and self-belief. One example is that it’s very easy to believe in what mainstream media tells us, but when we see our reality and it looks very different from those claims, we sometimes would even manipulate reality to fit the model that they’ve imposed on us. 

It takes courage to be able to have enough self belief we see as a very useful data point, instead of simply dismissing it.

What's a "big question" you can't wait for someone to figure out (that 'someone' could be you!)?

How to get more people to think independently? How can we create a safe space for everyone to express what they believe in?

I saw that a recent edition included a quote from Mary Oliver, who is quite literally my life's guiding prophet. She says that "the most regretful people on earth... felt the call to creative work, [but] gave it neither power nor time." Oooof. What does it mean to you to "give your creative power"?

What a question. For me, to give creativity power means two things: reaching the right people and delivering on the right platform. Creativity is the most powerful when it delivers an authentic message from the author to people who need the message the most. I believe creativity doesn’t live in a box, it only gains life when it touches others and becomes useful. Many people are resistant towards the idea of 

What's a 'dangerous idea' that took you a while to get on board with? What was that process like?

A dangerous idea is the simplest yet the hardest to live with. It took me a while to fully embrace the importance of “pursuing your calling” and to defy the pre-conceived “excellence” and prestige. There’s this thing called prestige that confuses people what their true calling is. Sometimes we like the way someone acts or looks or the respect they get in an industry, but we might not like the actual work. When you're young, and ambitious, prestige is like a powerful magnet that warps even your beliefs about what you enjoy. It causes you to work not on what you like, but what you'd like to like.

Large numbers of Americans push their inquisitive children away from creative play so that they can excel in their studies, in hopes that they will become excellent candidates for admission to a center of excellence and join the pursuit of excellence after graduation. The problem with all this is that we cannot excel our way out of modern problems, but what we can do is to find what we are distinctly good at doing and how that can contribute to solving the world’s most important problems. That can look very different from what’s considered prestigious at the moment, but the magic is that prestige is sometimes just fossilized inspiration. If you show the love by doing the work, prestige will follow.

The future will 1000% be better than the status quo. What's a "new normal" you're really looking forward to?

The most exciting is the rapid adoption of technology in traditional industry and the rise of individual entrepreneurs. Technology, so far, only benefits a few of us. This pandemic only reveals how the echo chamber of the tech industry has left a big part of the world behind. I’m hopeful that the “New Normal” will be the increasingly creative and original application of technology in our everyday lives that help us live more mindfully, learn more easily, and connect with each other more meaningfully. 

You're also a co-founder of BKYD, a community that empowers university students to kickstart passion projects. In this work, what are some common barriers - internal or external - young people face in launching passion projects? In addition to joining your community, what are some things they can do to maximize their chances of succeeding - whatever that looks like?

I truly believe that there’s very little external blocker to stop someone from kickstarting a passion project. The lack of prestige that I mentioned above is the biggest internal barrier. Creating something janky doesn’t always yield recognition from others — no one gives you a score, no one pays you a salary etc. Many people are extremely uncomfortable with this lack of feedback. What if we change our perspective? Instead of worrying about how successful/impactful/cool this project would be, think about what skills do you want to learn? The point of creating side projects is not to succeed, but to learn. What people tend to not see is how cheap it is to fail when you create a side project and have full ownership, and how big the impact could be if you do succeed. There are plenty of projects launched on platforms like Instagram, Twitter, and ProductHunt that have made a tangible difference in others’ lives.The fear of failure is also one of the reasons why true innovation has actually slowed in the past decade, despite the seemingly rapid-changing time portrayed by the media. Overcoming the fear of failure and gaining resilience around “being the dumbest in the room” are very undervalued superpowers. 

Your bio includes a shoutout to Japanese snacks, so we figure they're a pretty major part of your life. Any recs?

Wasabi Peas when I’m feeling fiery and ready to go, chocolate Pocky when I feel like I need some extra kick to get stuff done, and Matcha mochi with some Hojicha tea is be my go-to self care routine.