Men build too many walls and not enough bridges.

– Joseph Fort Newton


Featured artist: Cat Finnie

Dense Discovery
Dense Discovery

Welcome to Issue 112!

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I usually respond with eye-rolling when I hear politicians proclaim that “Our [insert big word] is at stake!” But this time it feels real. As Mary Annaïse Heglar writes in ‘The Whole World Is on the Ballot’ (see the Food for Thought section below): “I know that the future of the planet is, cruelly and inextricably, tied to the future of America.” I don’t think she’s exaggerating.

In the next 24–48 hours many of us will gorge on news and social media, while anxiously awaiting the fate of one of the world’s oldest democracies. If you’re following along, don’t forget to take a breather. And don’t get stuck on a single source of news. This is the time to make use of the internet’s superpower and graze the global news buffet to get a broader perspective on the events unfolding.

See you on the other side. – Kai

Dense Discovery is a weekly newsletter at the intersection of tech, design, sustainability, and culture read by over 36,000 subscribers. Do you have a product or service to promote? Sponsor an issue or book a classified.


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Apps & Sites

Parametric Press →

Interactive stories on climate change

Parametric Press is a digital magazine that uses audio, visual and interactive elements to bring stories to life. The second issue focuses on climate change: try Your Personal Carbon History to find out how much of total global emissions were caused during your lifetime, or The Corporations Behind Climate Change with a great visualisation of emissions by the world’s biggest fossil fuel companies.

Dimensions →

A database of measurements

This is one of those websites that make you love the internet: is “an ongoing reference database of dimensioned drawings documenting the standard measurements and sizes of the everyday objects and spaces that make up our world.” Handy if you are ever in need of sizing a Pomeranian.

TextSniper →

Extract text from images

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Stripe Climate →

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Stripe users in the US (for now) can enable ‘Stripe Climate’ and direct a fraction of the charge to support reputable carbon removal projects. If picked up by enough Stripe customers this could be a great example of how to scale small actions to create meaningful impact.


Worthy Five: Laura Gao


Five recommendations by comic artist Laura Gao

A video worth watching:

Long Time No See, Wuhan, a documentary about post-pandemic Wuhan is one of the most multi-dimensional and objective coverings of the lives of ten Wuhanese families at the peak of the pandemic there.

A book worth reading:

They Called Us Enemy by George Takei is a great reminder of the US’ dark history and Takei’s journey to reconcile his conflicting Asian-American identity with the country he lives in.

An activity worth doing:

Take a short route you’d normally drive but ride your bike instead. You’ll notice and make an emotional connection with so many things you otherwise just drive past.

A Twitter account worth following:

The Pudding is a digital publication that explores modern topics through data visualisation. Some of their best hits include: Gender Tropes in Film, The Shape of Slavery, and The Structure of Stand-Up Comedy.

A podcast worth listening to:

Drawn: The Story of Animation is a single-season podcast that explores different topics in animation and cartoon history. We’ve all watched certain cartoons growing up and it’s cool to find out what made them tick.




The New Corporation →

How ‘good’ corps are bad for democracy

A just-released book investigating the destructive force of corporate-driven systems and what alternatives are available to us: “Profit-driven privatisation subverting the public good, governments neglecting duties to protect the environment, the increasing alienation we experience as every aspect of life is economised, and how the Covid-19 pandemic lays bare the unjust fault lines of our corporate-led society.”


TYPEONE Magazine →

Type design & current affairs

You have a few days left to help fund the first issue of TYPEONE, a new bi-annual print magazine that “fuses type with topics such as business, technology, innovation, global issues, graphic design, 3D, animation and many more.” It’s also the first time I’ve come across the underlying funding platform In Perpetuum, apparently a new one-stop shop for indie publishers.


Overheard on Twitter

If Jeff Bezos gave each of his 876,000 employees a $105,000 bonus, he’d be left with as much money as he had at the beginning of the pandemic.



Food For Thought

The Whole World Is on the Ballot →


Important, short read: today, Americans will not just decide over the fate of their own democracy. They will decide whether we still have a fair shot at securing a liveable future for most of humanity. “As a ‘climate person’, I know that the future of the planet is, cruelly and inextricably, tied to the future of America. As a Black climate person, I know that ‘climate action’ does not necessarily mean climate justice. It can mean eco-fascism or climate apartheid. It can mean that there is, as the president puts it, ‘crystal clean water and air’ for some people, but none for me. Which means, as a Black American climate person in 2020, I’ve never been more afraid for my life.”

The Overwhelming Racism Of COVID Coverage →


A biased media diet makes it easy to miss that some non-Western countries have successfully fought Covid-19, not because of luck but because they are good at it: “Recently the NYPost said: ‘Scientists can’t explain puzzling lack of coronavirus outbreaks in Africa.’ Well no, they can, it’s bog standard public health. They have excellent scientists in Africa, you know, if you would ever let them get a visa for conferences. This is just racism, and western coverage is almost all like this. They attribute agency to rich/white nations like Germany or New Zealand but luck to anyone poorer or dark. ... At a stretch, white people can also see money, so they might extend the world to South Korea, Japan, UAE. But that’s it. That’s the end of the world. People are either white, rich, or they don’t exist.”

To Mend a Broken Internet, Create Online Parks →


It seems inconceivable at this point, but just imagine what a different place the internet would be if our shared digital spaces where publicly funded, well maintained, and not dictated by shareholder value. “Conflict and contestation are important parts of how healthy democracies progress, as long as there are structures that facilitate it. Functional public spaces are central to this work. They allow us to assemble, to share common experiences, and to demonstrate that what might have seemed like individual struggles are actually the result of unjust systems that demand correction.”

What Do Foreign Correspondents Think of the U.S.? →


I’m really grateful for having access to the reporting of foreign correspondents by news outlets of other countries (for me it’s mainly the German and Australian national broadcaster). It’s so important to get a variety of perspectives of what’s unfolding in the US.


Aesthetically Pleasing

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Type designer and lettering artist Rafael Serra reimagines well-known brands and various concepts through creative lettering, like this Bauhaus interpretation of the Google logo.

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This small home near Melbourne combines so many of my favourite architectural attributes: a simple and honest material palette (that corrugated iron!), low environmental and spacial footprint, multifunctional interior design, and parasitic planting all over.

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These pencil drawings by Aistė Stancikaitė are most exquisite. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a skillful use of a pencil!

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I admire the type design work by René Bieder. A particular favourite of mine is Freigeist, “a grotesk superfamily in 5 widths and 6 weights plus accompanying italics. It captures the untamed and expressive spirit of the early sans serifs from the 19th century and puts them into a contemporary context”.



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The Week in a GIF


Animation by Ketnipz

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