The eighth-grader who gets Internet celebrities to talk
FORTUNE — In April, I got one of those e-mail requests that are hard to resist:
Hello Mr. DeWitt,
My name is David Silverman and I am an eighth grader from a small town in Connecticut. I have been reading your work for a very long time now, because I really enjoy your writing and your point of view on Apple. I was wondering, really hoping, if you would be so kind to answer maybe 5 questions for a short interview on my blog: instantbight.com. It would be completely over email, and the time frame is infinite. I really hope your would be so kind to do so. Thanks for your time!
After correcting the spelling of my last name (it’s Elmer-DeWitt, with a hyphen) I banged out answers to his five questions and didn’t think much more about it.
Then I heard that some other people I knew had been approached by an eighth grader with five questions. Cult of Mac‘s Leander Kahney. Posts at Eventide‘s Robert Paul Laitao. Asmyco‘s Horace Dediu. I followed the links, and sure enough they all led to instantbight.com. In the space of eight weeks, Silverman had managed to land interviews with more than 40 Internet celebrities, from comedian Dan Abrams (who’s making a Kickstarter-funded feature film called Fal$e Profit) to Jennifer Brook (lead designer on the original New York Times’ iPad app).
Silverman turns out to be a serious young Apple guy (two Mac minis, one iPod touch, zero video game machines) who is proud to call himself a fanboy. He owns a few shares of Apple (AAPL), listens to all the keynotes and earnings calls and got pretty choked up when Steve Jobs died. “It was tough,” he says.
He would love to land an interview with someone from Apple’s executive staff. He’s e-mailed CEO Tim Cook, VP for iOS Scott Forstall, marketing VP Phil Schiller and PR director Steve Dowling. He has not yet heard back.
You can see his growing list of five-question interviews here.
Below the fold: Our five questions for David Silverman.
Q. How did you get started with the five-question interviews, and how has the project evolved?
To really answer this question I have to start from the way beginning, really the beginning of instantbight.com. About 7 months ago, my parents were talking a lot about job opportunities for my sister, and college choices for my brother. As an eighth grader I was really sitting back and listening. I was taking in all of this talk of “the real world.” I kept thinking, wow I have a lot of work ahead of me, and I also kept saying why can’t I start now. So I registered a WordPress account and started blogging at instantbight.com. (The name was supposed to be instantbyte, but I mistyped the name when registering and decided to stick with it.)
I started off writing anything I wanted to. I was reviewing products, sharing designs and ideas, and the occasional “tech world” analysis. I was trying to mirror all of the bloggers I had come to know and love.
The idea to focus my angle on just interviews started about 3 months ago after doing my first interview with Luke McDonald, a WordPress Theme creator at Press75. I loved the process, and apparently some other people loved the outcome. After I got those extra views, I was hungry for more and more interviews, and set off with email in hand.
With each interview my readership grows, and so does the positive feedback. I like interviews because I like to ask questions, but I love to hear answers!
Q. Of all the things you do when you are not blogging, what are your favorite activities and why?
When I am not blogging I have a couple hobbies. Number one is playing basketball. I have played basketball for maybe 6 years now and love the sport with a passion. I play travel basketball in the winter and with my friends after school during the off season. My favorite NBA player is Kevin Durant. He is phenomenal.
When I am not playing basketball, I really like solving Rubik’s cube. I am not the fastest in my school, but I have an average solve time of one minute.
When I am not solving Rubik’s cubes I like to cook food, and watch TV. In my opinion they go pretty much hand in hand. I like to watch Orange County Choppers, probably my favorite show.
Q. If you were the principal of your school for a day and had the power to permanently change one thing, what would it be?
First things first I would change all of the computers to Macs.
Then I would initiate a week-long project. The project would be that each kid in the school, or a group of kids, for one week had to come up with an idea or product, and make or do it. The group that had the most progress in a week would win! This could teach kids how to use their creativity in an entrepreneurial way. It would also teach problem solving, and last but not least it would be so fun!
Q. Who among the people you have met face-to-face do you most admire, and why?
My ex-social studies teacher. He has been one my favorite teachers ever, but beyond that he really helped me shape my opinion on real issues. Every class would be a lecture on some topic in the book, but each lesson would come alive with questions like, “what would you do?” and if someone didn’t like the way a situation was being handled…”Oh yeah, and how would you do this better?” He really taught me to think on my feet, and how to not be afraid to speak my mind. He was a true inspiration.
Q. Imagine yourself at age 30. What are you doing and where are you doing it?
If all goes well…
When I am thirty years old I will still be blogging at instantbight.com, getting over 1,000,000 views a month, and making some money from it as well. I will also have a job that I love to do, whether it is leading a web design team, being a head chef at a restaurant, or being on a team of a new tech startup. Hopefully I will have a girlfriend/wife, and definitely a dog! I hope that I can work from a place that doesn’t feel like an office but rather a place I do work. Whether my house/apartment, or a modern looking workspace. I also see myself with my family as much as possible, and loving what I do!