One’s mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions.

– Oliver Wendell Holmes


Featured artist: Ellen Porteus

Dense Discovery
Dense Discovery

Welcome to Issue 100! 🎉

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Around this time two years ago, I was sitting at a table in an old guest house in an idyllic town somewhere in the Bavarian Forest. It was the beginning of my two-month-long walk across Germany. Once a week, I would take a day off to rest my legs and find a place with reliable Wi-Fi. Slouching over my tiny 12-inch MacBook, I launched Dense Discovery on September 11 2018.

I often get asked how I grew DD to 27,000 subscribers in a relatively short time and the truth is that I didn’t. The first iteration of this newsletter was called ‘The Modern Desk’ and it launched back in 2015. Two years later, as part of a redesign of Offscreen, I merged the newsletter into the Offscreen brand and it became the weekly ‘Offscreen Dispatch’. After a while, though, publishing the newsletter with Offscreen’s narrow focus on tech felt limiting, so I decided to give it its own home again and called it Dense Discovery.

Today, I’m sending out the 100th issue of DD! Though, if I include the newsletter’s previous incarnations, we’re probably closer to the 250 issue mark. Five and a half years of sending out a weekly email!

To celebrate the big 100, I have a little surprise for you: the DD GIF Parade consolidates 100 GIFs of 100 issues of DD. Enjoy!

I’m also running a rare sale of Offscreen back issues, giving out 100 copies at just $5 each (which just about covers shipping). If you ever wanted to try Offscreen, this is a great opportunity to do so.

Thank you so much for sticking around and for being a thoughtful, supportive audience I’m truly proud of. To the next 100! – Kai

You receive this email because you subscribed to Dense Discovery, a weekly newsletter at the intersection of tech, design, and culture read by over 43,000 subscribers. Support us by sponsoring an issue, booking a classified ad, or sharing this issue with friends.


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Apps & Sites

Plausible →

Privacy-friendly analytics

It’s great to see so many privacy-focused alternatives to Google Analytics emerge. Plausible is another contender in the field: lightweight and open source, meaning you can self-host the app for free.

Overlap →

Find overlapping time zones

Working across five time zones, the people behind Moleskine Studio wanted an easier way to see who is currently available. So they built Overlap, a smart world clock that allows you to swipe through time to easily find the most suitable slot. iOS and macOS.

Grapevine →

Asynchronous video updates

If you work in different time zones but don’t enjoy writing lengthy team updates every day, Grapevine offers a place to store (and comment on) short, recorded video updates from all team members.

Collective Action in Tech →

Organising workplace action

Collective Action in Tech is a website that documents collective action events in the tech community. They recently added a practical guide on how to support the anti-racism movement within organisations. It outlines steps you can take and even provides template letters and sample messages to get you started.


Worthy Five: Jumana Abu-Ghazaleh


Five recommendations by responsible tech activist & New York Times crossword puzzler Jumana Abu-Ghazaleh

A concept worth understanding:

Hypocognition suggests that if we have ‘no words’ for something, perhaps we should coin some, because we cannot grasp (let alone share, fight for or fight against) what we cannot articulate.

A question worth asking:

In a hypercompetitive world, it is infinitely more productive to ask ‘How am I different from someone?’ instead of ‘How do I compare to or stack up against someone?’ Because there’s a lot more to be learned from contrast than comparison, about ourselves and others.

A podcast worth listening to:

Christina Crook’s JoMOcast features people who understand the exponential power of joy. Every episode, every interview, every conversation nudges us closer to making space for joy in our own lives.

An activity worth doing:

The world we think we know is full of surprises. Randonauting can lead you to them, if you are willing to wander rather than search.

A recipe worth trying:

Musakhan is an easy and delicious way to discover a seemingly inaccessible culture and to develop a new appreciation for olive oil!




Humans →

A photographic census of humanity

Most of you probably know Humans of New York, a hugely popular photographic interview series, depicting life in New York City. Its creator, Brandon Stanton, has recently travelled to more than forty countries, conducting similar short interviews across continents, borders, and language barriers, and published them in his newest book: “The faces and locations will vary from page to page, but the stories will feel deeply familiar. Told with candor and intimacy, Humans will resonate with readers across the globe – providing a portrait of our shared experience.”


Deem Journal →

Design as social practice

Deem Journal is a new-ish print and digital magazine focusing on human-centric design in a social context. (A snapshot of the mag’s impressive editorial design here.) Through transdisciplinary and intergenerational conversations, Deem asks what design can do for our communities, and how it may help us better understand our histories and imagine our futures. The theme of their inaugural issue is ‘Designing For Dignity’.


Overheard on Twitter

You can’t expect to be successful if you spend all day scrolling Twitter on your phone. At some point you need to get your shit together and scroll Twitter on your laptop.



Food For Thought

Jia Tolentino on Practicing the Discipline of Hope →


One of the most wholesome and articulate interviews I’ve read in a while: author Jia Tolentino on how to deal with... everything. “I don’t think the future is going to be good. I don’t think there’s an ethical justification for having kids in a world that’s accelerating in these directions. But I am committed to the idea that the world can be better, and I have some amount of faith that being human, being able to love, is still an untouchably and unpredictably generative thing – worthwhile, across unknown contexts, in and of itself.”

Why we need to ‘feel’ climate change →


A short interview with Australian climate scientist and writer Joëlle Gergis about how the terror of what she’s seeing in the science has started to invade her dreams. We need more scientists expressing their concerns in such visceral ways.

Tourist Detraction →


Rafia Zakaria makes a great case for completely rethinking – i.e. dismantling – the global tourism industry: “Some of the biggest inequities of tourism involve non-reciprocal arrangements, where those from rich countries can go anywhere and the residents of the poor but beautiful countries are bound to their borders. ... Tourists, however far they may have traveled, are there for short moments in which they remain by and large in the same psychological space they inhabited back home. Then there is the added inauthenticity of performing enjoyment for the production of content. Everyone who had money was gorging on it.”


Aesthetically Pleasing

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Russian pastry designer Tortik Annushka makes really trippy-looking, futuristic cakes.

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Taiwanese animation artist Pixel Jeff creates beautifully atmospheric, subtley animated pixel art sceneries.

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Smart thermostat maker Ecobee created an impressive microsite to present their brand design and values.

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Balgin brings back the nostalgic era of the ’90s with a responsive, quirky sans family.



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Keep a pulse on internet culture & the future of the consumer internet with commentary by koodos, a bi-weekly newsletter written by collaborators @ Harvard’s Berkman Klein Centre.

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The Week in a GIF


Email or tweet us the URL to your favourite GIF and we might feature it here in a future issue.