The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge’.

– Issac Asimov


Featured artist: Timo Kuilder

Dense Discovery
Dense Discovery

Welcome to Issue 113!

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Over the weekend, for a brief moment, the internet turned upside down. I found myself joy-scrolling on a Sunday morning after waking up and exhaling for the first time in four years.

It didn’t look so promising at first. The Australian ABC had the best running commentary. They definitely weren’t rushing the count, but, you know, sometimes good things take time. Meanwhile, Australia – well, at least Russell Crowe – was getting ready to adopt an American and Captain Orange discovered the hard reality of adding numbers.

As we were getting closer to the season finale of The Map Show, the media had it with mincing words. In Australia, some newspapers were cautiously and unofficially calling it with a handful of candid headlines. When the result became official, other Aussie commentators were a little more subtle in wishing the guy farewell.

Oh, the sounds of jubilation! And the crowds. The biggest crowd ever. Period! With tremendous signs. Even Facebook decided that it was time to (temporarily) switch to Democrat mode.

On a more serious note, let us recognise that while Trumpism is alive and well, this is a momentous achievement given the system is so terribly flawed. We should also heed Erin’s advice: we will now all construct a narrative around the results that fits our world view.

Everyone who stood up for decency, truth, kindness, and compassion over these last four years: thank you. You fully deserve this moment! Let’s start holding the new folks to account and remember that your less vulgar, everyday cowardice is back on the menu.

Okay, gotta run now. I have a luncheon with George Clooney. – 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.


30 Minute Read SPONSOR


The Tiny MBA →

The shortest business book on earth?

There is no single right way to do things in business, but you can avoid lots of common mistakes along the way. Each page of The Tiny MBA offers ideas, prompts, clues and suggestions and reflections to help you navigate business in ways that most people only learn the hard way.


Apps & Sites

Raindrop →

Bookmark manager

I just renewed my ‘pro’ subscription for Raindrop, one of the many apps that help me put together Dense Discovery. Raindrop lets me save and organise thousands of bookmarks that I accumulate over time.

RemoteRetro →

Remote retrospective meetings

It’s in the name: RemoteRetro is a simple web interface for running retrospective meetings from remote locations. Choose typical meeting formats (such as Good, Bad, Actions, Questions) or design your own. Integrates with Email, Trello and soon Slack and Jira.

Greenlist →

Encourage green choices at work

Greenlist is a simple Slack plugin that encourages more sustainable behaviour at the office through friendly competition among team members. Using votes, badges, and score boards Greenlist aims to reward greener choices. (Don’t miss the article further below for a contrarian view on ‘ethical consumption’.)

Sounds of the Forest →

Listen to nature around the world

A global map “collecting the sounds of woodlands and forests from all around the world, creating a growing soundmap bringing together aural tones and textures from the world’s woodlands”.


Worthy Five: Craig Mod


Five recommendations by walker, writer, photographer, and book maker Craig Mod

A question worth asking:

What scale do you want to operate at/work on? That is: Does working on a product touched by a billion people excite you? How about one used by a thousand? Understanding your scale goals help whittle down what you choose to work on day after day.

A concept worth understanding:

Archetypes viewed up close can redefine what you think is possible. Do your best to find folks doing work you aspire to, and ‘smoosh your nose against their studio window’. Seeing someone do ‘impossible’ work can transform what you think you can do, who you can be. (E.g. four minute mile) This is why I offer students free access to my membership program.

A book worth reading:

The 1918 Shikoku Pilgrimage of Takamure Itsue – hilarious, brilliant, brave diary of an eighteen-year-old woman going on the Shikoku pilgrimage alone – alone!!! – in 1918 (1918!!).

An activity worth doing:

Pick a narrow topic and write a weekly newsletter about it for three months. It will force you to consolidate your thoughts and will show you that even narrow topics are infinitely deep. And limiting it to three months means you’ll probably do it. Call it: Season One.

A podcast worth listening to:

Edith Zimmerman’s Drawing Links. As other newsletters go long, Edith goes reasonably short! Her quirky off-by-two-degrees view of the world is always a delight to witness. I cherish its arrival.




Another Now →

Dispatches from an alternative present

Yanis Varoufakis is an outspoken left-leaning economist who I remember stepping on conservative toes in Europe during his time as Greek’s finance minister. In his newest book, he imagines what the world would look like if the Occupy and Extinction Rebellion movements actually won. “Another Now blends Platonic dialogue with speculative fiction to show that there is an alternative to capitalism, while also confronting us with the greatest question: how far are we willing to go to bring it about?”


Today + Soon →

DIY task manager

Inspired by Ugmonk’s paper-based to-do-list system Analog, my mate Elliot created his own low-cost, low-material version based on cards printed by MOO. It’s a simple stack of cards on which you write today’s and future tasks to be completed. I really appreciate that Elliot shared his thinking behind this project and open-sourced the templates he created. The internet was made for DIY projects like this. More please!


Overheard on Twitter

This is news hyperinflation. Journalists are wandering around with wheelbarrows full of news but it’s all worthless because it now costs one million news to buy a loaf of bread.



Food For Thought



Still on my to-watch list: this documentary about how the high cost of housing in our cities is fueled by global investment funds, pushing more and more people into poverty. “PUSH sheds light on a new kind of faceless landlord, our increasingly unliveable cities and an escalating crisis that has an effect on us all. This is not gentrification, it’s a different kind of monster.”

Audacious Gardening: On Daring to Care →


I promise, this is the last gardening-related piece I’ll share for a while. I live in the inner city and currently don’t have a garden of my own, so I’m not sure why this topic resonates so much with me. “Gardening is simply a framework for engagement with our world, grounded in care and action. To garden is to care deeply, inclusively, and audaciously for the world outside our homes and our heads. It’s a way of being that is intimately interwoven with the real truths of existence – not the things we’re told to value (money, status, ownership), but the things that actually matter (sustenance, perspective, beauty, connection, growth).”

The Twilight of the Ethical Consumer →


I find some of the arguments in this piece a bit clunky and oversimplified. Bottom line is, though, that buying ‘ethical products’ won’t bring about systemic change, or at least not fast enough. The problems – and their solution – have a lot in common with the way we should approach climate action. “We must not mistake Ethical Consumption – a private act – for political power or organized, collective social change that benefits everyone. When we retreat into our Ethical Consumer bubbles, some of the most powerful institutions in our society get a free pass to run roughshod over people who don’t have the market choices we do.”

‘This is revolutionary’: new online bookshop unites indies to rival Amazon →


Bookshop(.org), which offers a really interesting model for supporting local, independent brick and mortar bookshops, has exploded in popularity during COVID and just launched in the UK. “‘We went from selling $50,000 worth of books in all of February, to selling $50,000 a day in March, then $150,000 a day in April,’ said Hunter. By June, Bookshop sold $1m worth of books in a day. The platform has now raised more than $7.5m for independent bookshops across the US.”


Aesthetically Pleasing

❏ ❏

This fascinating photo series by photographer Alex Schoelcher called Concrete Citizens is “an ongoing photographic examination of iconic Brutalist apartment complexes in former Soviet states, and the people who continue to inhabit them.” To browse the different buildings, hover over the ‘Concrete Citizens’ menu item.

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The new Norwegian passport design, first announced in 2014 and mentioned in DD34, are finally being released and they look as stellar as their original draft.

❏ ❏

I’m unsure whether cycling brand Rapha’s biannual magazine Mondial is still being published, but older issues are on sale in their store for just a few bucks. An editorial design feast by Alex Hunting Studio.

❏ ❏

Grand Slang is an elegant display typeface “boldly discovering and reshaping the essence of the beautiful mid-20th century American calligraphy”.



Daily Haloha is a simple daily routine to help us look inward and share outward. It starts with a single thought-provoking question to the world each day. Anonymous and uplifting.

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The Week in a GIF


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