True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.

– Rick Warren


Featured artist: Louise Billyard

Dense Discovery
Dense Discovery

Welcome to Issue 114!

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A while back I listened to this podcast interview with Christina Figueres. Christina is a diplomat, climate activist, and a key negotiator of The Paris Agreement. Until listening to the interview, I didn’t know that her father, José Figueres Ferrer, was the president of Costa Rica and considered to be the country’s ‘father of democracy’.

In the last few minutes of the interview, the host asks Christina what principles of her father’s she is carrying on. She says: “He expected us to be of service. ... and to be stubborn about the common good.” I love that. ‘To be of service to others.’ What a great attitude to pass on to your kids.

In a recent chat with a friend, we talked about how COVID brought to light the dark underbelly of an individualist society and how solving many problems, like pandemics, depend to some extent on our sense of altruism – caring for the people around us.

Thinking about her kids, my friend said: “We always wanted them to get their self-worth from how they treat others, and this is a teachable moment for us as parents. When you explain that face masks are largely about protecting others, you suddenly see a lot of kind and caring people walking down the street.” (Here in Melbourne everyone currently wears a face mask when not at home.)

I love hearing about the values parents hope to pass on, trying to create compassionate, self-less little humans in testing times. Thanks for being a beacon of hope, even to non-parents like myself!

Is there a particular principle that your parents instilled in you that you’d like to pass on? Please share in a comment! – Kai

Dense Discovery is a weekly newsletter at the intersection of tech, design, sustainability, and culture read by over 31,000 subscribers. Do you have a product or service to promote? Sponsor an issue or book a classified.


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Apps & Sites

ClipDrop →

AR copy, crop and paste

A fascinating little augmented reality (AR) copy & paste tool that lets you take photos of real-life objects on your mobile phone and then paste them on your desktop by just point the camera at your computer screen. (Check the little preview video on the website.) It feels like a novelty feature, but ClipDrop also works as a desktop tool that quickly crops elements or even text out of existing photos.

Simple Search →

Simplified Google results

This Firefox or Chrome extension provides a more traditional Google search results page. Google’s own products and info panels take up a lot of screen real estate. With Simple Search enabled, an overlay gives you a less cluttered view of just the organic search results.

Climatebase →

Directory & jobs for climate action

Climatebase is a directory that accumulates current job opportunities related to climate action and lists organisations and events doing important work in that space.

Ydays →

Drawing challenges with friends

Connect with friends remotely through simple, playful, creative tasks: create a group on YDays and invite your friends. Every morning, a drawing prompt will challenge your group’s creativity. You have the day to complete it. Then watch what your fellow challengers came up with, vote and cheer them on.


Worthy Five: Shelley Pascual


Five recommendations by journalist turned PR professional Shelley Pascual

A podcast worth listening to:

The Culture First podcast. Never before has it been so important to be able to bring humanity to our work lives.

A recipe worth trying:

Filipino eggplant omelette: ugly but oh so good! Eat it with rice and dip it in vinegar (like I did when I was a kid).

A question worth asking:

‘Where are you a local?’ rather than ‘Where are you from?’ upon first meeting someone, as the latter could end up making them feel uncomfortable.

A piece of advice worth passing on:

The key to leading a happy life is responding to hardship in a way that allows you to grow from the experience. Tough times are inevitable; don’t strive to avoid them.

An Instagram account worth following:

The weekly drawing challenges by @stillherestilllife were especially soothing for me during the lockdown. I also love seeing how others interpret the visual prompts!




Subprime Attention Crisis →

The precarity of online advertising

Really interesting new book on the mosh pit that is digital advertising: “From the unreliability of advertising numbers and the unregulated automation of advertising bidding wars, to the simple fact that online ads mostly fail to work, Hwang demonstrates that while consumers’ attention has never been more prized, the true value of that attention itself – much like subprime mortgages – is wildly misrepresented. And if online advertising goes belly-up, the internet – and its free services – will suddenly be accessible only to those who can afford it.”


Playing Arts →

Artistic playing cards

What a lovely creative project: Playing Arts is an arts collective that releases limited-edition sets of illustrated playing cards. Each deck is the result of a creative competition with often hundreds of artists, contributing their personal styles and techniques.


Overheard on Twitter

It’s not actually a coup unless it comes from the coup d'état region of France, otherwise it’s just a sparkling authoritarian takeover.



Food For Thought

Don’t Blame Social Media. Blame Capitalism. →


I’ve read several good critiques of the documentary The Social Dilemma. Paris Marx makes some good points here – though if you dig deep enough, you inevitably end up with ‘It’s capitalism!’ when trying to solve the systemic problems of Western society. “Are we to believe that the breakdown in community and personal relationships is the result of clever algorithms, and not the fact that capitalism has commercialized most aspects of our lives, decimated public spaces, and ensured our communities are built in a way that separates most people into auto-oriented suburbs?”

You can handle the post-truth: a pocket guide to the surreal internet →


What a wild ride! Aaron Z. Lewis dives deep into everything that’s weird, fake, and bizarre on the internet and how this new un-reality shapes our understanding of the world, our future and our history: “The fragmentation of reality means that our current method of understanding history (i.e. a single narrative sweep from the ‘beginning’ to the present) is no longer adequate. Consensus history as we knew it in the 20th century will likely be difficult, if not impossible, to recreate. How could we possibly compress all of these contradictory reality bubbles into a single history textbook? The cat’s out of the bag – school kids have access to a dizzying array of alt histories at their YouTube-loving fingertips.”

There’s no Foe in Forever →


Sarah writes a great newsletter on climate-related things. In a recent issue, she spoke about how fighting for climate action is a ‘forever fight’. None of us will get to a point where we can claim ‘victory’ and move on to other issues. “A few weeks ago, a younger colleague mentioned that many of her peers had already resolved themselves to the fact that the climate crisis will be their entire life effort. When I was her age, my biggest concern was whether I could go dancing all night and still make it to class in the morning. To reconcile yourself to the idea of the Forever Emergency at 22 is almost unfathomably brave. It’s also prescient.”


Aesthetically Pleasing

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I’m getting strong Labyrinth vibes from the mossy, overgrown forest photos of landscape photographer Neil Burnell.

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There are close to 60,000 metered taxis Mumbai. Rachel Lopez collects selfies showing the beautiful art pattern on the ceilings of the cabs she takes.

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When I first saw the branding of Zest Coffee I thought, ‘This is the kind of over-the-top, attention-to-micro-detail coffee branding you usually find in Australia.’ Turns out it’s indeed one of Australia’s many independent coffee roasters with an impressive visual identity.

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Dx Rigraf a fresh, modern sans serif family that’s both impressive at display sizes and easily readable in text size. Its sharp distinctive letter shapes show their strength in logo design and editorial use.



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The Week in a GIF


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