Brendan Dawes
The Art of Form and Code

Seeking alternative rectangles

My career has largely been predicated by things emanating from glowing rectangles. Whilst I'm incredibly grateful for everything that digital continues to afford me, lately I've felt the need to alter my relationship with these ever-pervading screens.

It started with me killing dead all notifications, not just on my phone but on my desktop too. I now live in a state of ignorant bliss, free from knowing if somebody liked a tweet or my latest stupid Instagram post. If I decide to fire up either of these then that's my decision. With notifications it's the other way round — your phone is controlling you — telling you what to do with your time.

On top of that I've made time to seek out what I like to refer to as alternative rectangles. I subscribed to the New Yorker because I love the Talk of the Town section, filled with a real mix of anecdotes and stories about all kinds of people that is richer than most things I read on Twitter. It serves as a much better source for future ideas, plus it's a world away from all things design. Their long-form articles really dig deep into a subject — something I see less and less of online. The BBC news is a great example of what I'm trying to avoid — their news articles are now just timelines of tweets. It's bloody depressing.

Another alternative rectangle is a notebook. When I find myself just trawling the web for no reason whatsoever, I'll go out with my notebook and just write any old shit that pours out of my head — or at least drips slowly out of my head. Often times when I'm writing such crap, a fix for a piece of code that has been driving me nuts will make itself known via my subconscious — something that seems much harder when I'm sat at my desk staring through glass.

I earn my money through digital means — without this screen (and network) in front of me I would have no career. Yet that doesn't mean it has to dominate my life so much. I appreciate silence, quiet spaces, places to think like a good old boring analogue park bench — preferably without any signal.