Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so.

– Douglas Adams


Featured artist: Stefan Große Halbuer

Dense Discovery
Dense Discovery

Welcome to Issue 124!

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Marketing advice on ‘How to Grow X’ is everywhere on the web. There is hardly a company blog left that doesn’t parrot the conventional growth wisdom in a slightly reshuffled listicle: happy customer testimonials, affiliate programs, newsletter popups, call-to-action buttons and, of course, FREEbies!

Whether it’s pet food, developer tools or newsletters – most websites now follow the official Customer Conversion Handbook. Besides a lot of wasteful merch and vapid ebooks, the growth hackers have given us a web of boring, predictable uniformity. It’s soulless shopping malls all the way down.

Well, not all the way. There remains a small, almost rebellious corner of the web that feels more like a farmers market. There is no hard upselling, price tags don’t shout at you, and cheap merch is conspicuously absent. (They even make you bring your own canvas bag!) In fact, all products are a little rough around the edges – little polish, lots of character.

Best of all: nobody is following your every move. Your anxiety about deceptive sales trickery dissipates. At first you’re a little suspicious about not having to hand over your personal details, but then – what a respite! A place of calm, away from the noisy machinery of perpetual conversion optimisation.

In the end, what convinces you to make a purchase isn’t the prospect of winning your seventeenth reusable coffee mug with a different logo on it, but something much more basic: a feeling of genuine connection and mutual respect. You leave with an appreciation for being made to feel human.

I like farmers markets. – Kai


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.design →

Elevate your branding

Showcase your designs with a free .design domain name. A .design domain name allows you to create a more elegant URL for your portfolio or website. Join companies like Adobe and get one year completely free today.


Apps & Sites

Beeper →

Unified message app

Beeper connects to a large range of messaging services – including iMessage, Whatsapp, Telegram, Signal, Facebook Messenger, Slack, Instagram DM, Twitter DM and more – and pulls them all into one central messaging interface using so-called ‘bridges’.

API Flash →

Screenshot API

Generate website screenshots and control a range of settings via a simple API. I’m using this tool to automatically show a screenshot of the latest issue of DD on the homepage.

I don’t care about cookies →

Popup blocker

In my view, the cookie permission popup is the right step towards more privacy wrongly executed. If you just want to make the annoying popups disappear, give this browser extension a try. (Safari users go here.)

Radio Garden →

Live radio around the globe

Spin the globe and tune into one of thousands of live radio stations – from Tehran in Iran to Ulaanbaatar in Mongolia. Here’s my hometown in Germany and my current home, Melbourne.


Worthy Five: James Jackson


Five recommendations by product designer and poetry writer James Jackson

A book worth reading:

Antisocial is one of my favourite books in recent history – an important (and entertaining) read for understanding the role that tech and media play in altering our society.

A newsletter worth subscribing to:

Anne Helen Petersen writes Culture Study, a newsletter ranging from why local journalism is dying to why you probably feel so bad right now.

A question worth asking:

We’re generally not good predictors of how our happiness will be affected by decisions. So when making a decision, ask ‘Is this diminishing me or enlarging me?’

A piece of advice worth passing on:

Do more of these things: listening, dancing, feeling. Life is so short and most things don’t matter.

A podcast worth listening to:

Earth to Linda is a wholesome podcast about two friends catching up. Easy listening for hard times.




The Trust Manifesto →

An alternative internet, built on trust

The co-founder of WeTransfer, Damian Bradfield, with a new book highlighting the wealth of data we un/knowingly share every day and what it means for the future of the internet. “We’re living in an extraordinary age: the age of trust. We trust the language of algorithms and the intentions of tech giants. The Trust Manifesto is for anyone how has started to question that trust; who worry where it might end, who fear ‘The Black Mirror Effect’. It is for those who wonder what an alternative internet would look like, built on trust, that works for all of us.”


Future of Masculinity Zine →

A progressive vision for men

A recently got a lovely email telling me that my Indie Magonomics booklet inspired the creation of this little zine on masculinity: “Featuring news-you-can-use and fresh views on how reimagining a plural, positive, progressive vision for masculinity can help each of us where we need it most – at home, at work, in our relationships, in our heads, and in how we engage with the turbulent world around us.”


Overheard on Twitter

I love the stock market because when it goes up we get nothing but when it goes down we all lose our jobs. Except during a pandemic when it goes up and we still lose our jobs.



Food For Thought

Junk Cabin: Secretly building my wife a COVID office →


Beau Miles has quickly become one of my favourite Australian storytellers. His archetypical Australian no-bullshit approach to making is so refreshing, especially if you work in the digital world where every day I come across another buzzword-heavy fluff piece about ‘the potential of the new maker economy’. Beau couldn’t care less. He wakes up, finds some wood around the place, and builds a cabin – and while he’s hammering away shares some genuine insights about what it means to be human.

Easy Answers →


A wonderful essay about what we don’t find when we ask Google for answers. “Science, art, religious practice, relationships with other people, attempts to understand politics or history: all arise from the kind of curiosity we ask Google to release us from. To the extent that it hides the unknown behind a scrim of facts, and encourages us to see the world’s plurality as something we can skim, Google also reduces our equipment for living.”

What Buddhism can do for AI ethics →


As an areligious person I always felt that Buddhism (what little I know of it) had the strongest appeal to me as a less organised but widely applicable life philosophy. A notion that is reinforced by this argument to let AI be guided by Buddhist teachings: “Buddhism proposes a way of thinking about ethics based on the assumption that all sentient beings want to avoid pain. Thus, the Buddha teaches that an action is good if it leads to freedom from suffering. The implication of this teaching for artificial intelligence is that any ethical use of AI must strive to decrease pain and suffering. In other words, for example, facial recognition technology should be used only if it can be shown to reduce suffering or promote well-being. Moreover, the goal should be to reduce suffering for everyone – not just those who directly interact with AI.”


Aesthetically Pleasing

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Control Panel is a Tumblr (!) “in praise of dials, toggles, buttons, and bulbs” and filled with all sorts of old and new, real and imagined interface panel designs.

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The winners of the International Landscape Photographer of the Year awards. As if we needed a reminder of how amazing the outside world really is...

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The Bentwood is one of my favourite cafes here in Melbourne. Located in an iconic building that was once used as a showroom for bentwood furniture, the cafe’s brand and interior design pay homage to the past with a beautiful colour and material palette. They also make a damn decent soy flat white.

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Boogy Brut is a serif type family with a wide spectrum of uses. The ‘wild’ versions are designed like initials: far from the traditional ‘quest for legibility’, they tread the boundaries between graphic design and pure art.



Organising your home or office can make your head spin. It’s easier when you set your own rules. Learn how to get unstuck and create order that lasts with these 10 questions.

Spark meaningful conversations and deepen relationships with these Reflection Cards. Includes 100+ thought-provoking questions – perfect with friends, family, and coworkers!

Some Sense is an online magazine exploring how we shape meaning and human insights through conversations with creators, changemakers and everyday characters. Enjoy reading.

Punch Zombies and learn HTML & CSS with this fresh, fun, apocalyptic take on web development. Our free HTML & CSS quick start guide is filled with zombies, jokes and silliness.

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