Looking at life from a different perspective makes you realise that it’s not the deer that is crossing the road, rather it’s the road that is crossing the forest.

– Muhammad Ali


Featured artist: Gabriel Silveira

Dense Discovery
Dense Discovery

Welcome to Issue 104!

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We’re still in lockdown here in Melbourne. The proper kind of lockdown: curfews at night, one hour of outdoor time per day, no friend/family visits.

Almost six weeks in (or has it been three years?!), I’m no longer sure how to answer the ‘how are yous’ on phone calls. Usually my autopilot kicks in with a ‘I have nothing to complain about’, followed by something about the hardship of those less fortunate.

For much of the last few months, compassion and humility seemed like the only valid things to feel as a privileged white guy with a job and some savings in the bank. What a great job this virus does at reflecting those privileges back at me!

I still have to remind myself regularly that I’m allowed to have a bad day, while at the same time I can acknowledge that so many others are doing it a lot tougher. For all the hurdles privilege removes, it doesn’t inoculate against anxieties. And that’s reassuring in its own painful, but human way.

Putting together this weekly newsletter has become an important fixture during the many emotional ups and downs. A kind of therapeutic and stabilising ritual. Knowing that so many of you are eagerly following along every week is a real source of motivation for me. So thank you!

Before you read today’s issue, I want to know how you are doing at the moment. What’s making you anxious? What keeps you going? Add a comment – anonymously if you prefer – and let me know. (I do read and appreciate every comment.) – 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 36,000 subscribers. Support us by sponsoring an issue, booking a classified ad, or sharing this issue with friends.


Tool for Thought SPONSOR


Muse →

A new iPad app for deep thinking

Muse is a spatial canvas for your research notes, reading, sketches, screenshots, and bookmarks. Instead of linear note taking and file management, Muse is inspired by your desk: personal, creative, even a little messy. Download Muse on the App Store and use 100 cards for free.


Apps & Sites

Sizle →

Online presentations

Sizle is a web-based presentation tool that adds additional features to your slideshow: analytics give you insights into your audience’s behaviour and forms allow you to interact with viewers. You can also receive notifications when your documents are opened and interacted with.

Circle →

Community platform

As I mentioned in the past, I’ve been on the lookout for community platforms for a private project. Circle is by far the most interesting and feature-fitting one. Their founder recently sent through a pre-launch video preview that really impressed me. If you’re thinking about adding a community element to your site and don’t like Slack, Circle offers more features and flexibility, and less FOMO.

Hand Mirror →

One-click camera check

Ever needed to check yourself or your backdrop before launching a video call? Hand Mirror is a tiny macOS menu bar app. When you click on it, you get the view from your camera.

Nonograms Katana →

Combining pixelart & Sudoku

A friend recently introduced me to the world of Nonograms, which are Japanese picture logic puzzles. Nonograms work similar to Sudoku, but with a ‘paint-by-numbers’ element to it. This Nonograms app (Android and iOS) offers over 1000 free puzzels. To give it a try, learn how to play here and then play a first game right in your browser.


Worthy Five: McKinley Valentine


Five recommendations by writer, editor and newsletter-maker McKinley Valentine

A phrase worth knowing:

“You don’t have a problem, you have a solution you don’t like.” A decent percentage of the time I spend problem-solving is actually just procrastination.

A newsletter worth subscribing to:

The newsletter of Jack Druce, a Canadian-Australian comedian with a heart of gold. Good jokes and genuinely insightful introspection. I always leave it more motivated to create.

A Twitter account worth following:

@Pixel_Dailies: Every day, the pixel artists of Twitter respond to a new prompt, and the resulting art gets re-shared by this account.

A concept worth understanding:

The ‘Curse of Knowledge’: We write, recommend, and explain things badly because we can’t put ourselves in the shoes of a reader who knows much less than we do.

An activity worth doing:

Leading up to a move, I made a list of literally every single item I own. I realise it’s objectively a bizarre thing to do, but I found it curiously satisfying.




New Philosopher →

Contemporary everyday philosophy

New Philosopher is an Australian independent magazine devoted to exploring philosophical ideas that challenge contemporary thought and conditioning. It aims to guide readers into living a happier and freer mode of existence. I buy the occasional issue and always get something thought-provoking out of it. Completely ad free, the publication relies on print and digital subscriptions. (I bet you can hardly resist their beautiful covers!)


Timelapse →

How we change the earth

One of my favourite websites is about to release its newest book: Overview’s Timelapse is a photographic survey of the state of change on Earth today, featuring stunning satellite imagery of how our species has shaped the surface of our planet. “With more than 250 new, mesmerizing images such as sprawling cities and the patterns created by decades of deforestation, this book offers a fresh perspective of change on Earth from a larger-than-life scale.”


Overheard on Twitter

Thinking about the advice my Australian journalism professor gave: “If one person says it’s raining and another says it’s not, your job isn’t to quote both sources. Your job is to stick your head out the window and announce the new Kmart item that’s driving mums wild.”



Food For Thought

Trump, QAnon and The Return of Magic →


Kirby Ferguson – maker of the popular Everything is a Remix – with a new documentary that explains how fear and anxiety drives us towards ‘magic thinking’ that’s at the heart of conspiracy theories but also milder forms of irrational thinking, such as superstitions and astrology. A fair warning: as you’d expect, it gets pretty weird and dark quickly.

Craig Mod on Emotional Intelligence →


I loved Craig’s writing on emotional intelligence in his latest newsletter. I’ve long been curious about the many different ways emotional intelligence presents itself and Craig encapsulates it extremely well. “Folks who tend to attack – rather than deconstruct, or empathize – are often trapped in tremendously narrow world views. They tend to see all relationships as existing within a thin column, a tight hierarchy of being above or below each other. And in service to that ‘alpha’ pole position at the top of the column, they need to attack and make sure you or your work sits below.”

How to Save a Planet →


A new show by Gimlet exploring climate solutions from a US perspective with their signature light-hearted approach. The first episode (The Witch of Wind) shows how powerful and totally irrational the opposition by fossil fuel lobbying groups is. The second episode (The Green Wave) really highlights how far ahead Europe is, not just compared to the US, but also where I live, Australia, and frankly the rest of the world.


Aesthetically Pleasing

❏ ❏

Coldwater.Science is a photo series capturing the breathtakingly beautiful diversity of life under water: “The World Ocean is as close as you can get to outer space without leaving Earth. It’s an entirely different universe, nothing like the life we have on land. And while people dream about alien life forms from other planets, there is another universe right here, closer than anyone expects.”

❏ ❏

The new polyhedron-shaped Kadokawa Culture Museum in Japan makes a bold impression through a facade with 20,000 individual pieces of granite. Spread over five floors, the building features a huge library, an anime-focused hotel, book store, pavilion, and its own shrine.

❏ ❏

What a smart, impactful and cute brand and packaging design for this Russian dairy company.

❏ ❏

Uxum Grotesque is a great identity typeface with distinguished typographical aberrations, legible and expressive, and comes in 6 weights and with 391 glyphs.



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