History is a race between education and catastrophe.

– H.G. Wells


Featured artist: Paul Reid

Dense Discovery
Dense Discovery

Welcome to Issue 127!

View/share online

I’ve recently come across two separate tweets essentially asking the same question: “Why haven’t you started a business yet?” And then I saw Tracy Chou talking about how people around her kept asking for years when she will finally start her own business.

Especially in the tech sphere, starting your own company is considered the holy grail of career progression. To have that Founder title in your bio is the ultimate rite of passage. Your ambition isn’t fully realised until it manifests itself as a ‘disrupt-an-industry’ enterprise.

To ask “Why haven’t you started a business yet?” is like asking “Why haven’t you bought a car yet?” to which the intuitive response would be: “To go where?”

First, you need to have a destination, then you can figure out the best way to get there. To assume that acquiring a car is your only option for reaching your goal is simply unimaginative and sometimes misguided.

Tracy’s thoughts about (not yet) starting a business from eight years ago – when the startup circus went into hysterical overdrive over big acquisitions like that of Instagram – are remarkably clear-eyed for someone surrounded by disciples of The Church of Silicon Valley.

As she explains, gaining important skills and figuring out where and how she wanted to use them later on (she recently started Blockparty as a response to an issue that’s deeply personal to her), was more important to her than obtaining the Founder badge of honour. That foresight and thoughtfulness is the kind of ‘startup advice’ we rarely hear but could use more of. – Kai


Become a Friend of DD →

With a modest yearly contribution you help keep Dense Discovery going and ensure that it remains accessible for everyone.


Dense Discovery is a weekly newsletter at the intersection of tech, design, sustainability, and culture read by over 35,000 subscribers. Do you have a product or service to promote? Sponsor an issue or book a classified.


Business Trends Research SPONSOR


Signals →

Future-proof your business with 5-minute insights

Hybrid work, automation and talent platforms are trends that will transform many industries. But how can your business benefit from these trends? Join Signals and you’ll know! We spend over 30 hours a week researching new trends, then summarise everything you need to know in a 5-minute report.


Apps & Sites

Hugo →

Better meeting notes

If you spend much of your workday in meetings, Hugo could help make them more effective: the app hooks into your calendar and existing collaboration software to make recording and sharing meeting notes easier and more engaging.

Craft →

Collaborative documents

Craft is a suite of macOS & iOS apps that brings Notion-like documents into a native Mac environment. I love working in fast, thoughtfully designed desktop apps, but I love even more not having to install any software. So unless there are very convincing advantages to the native app, my preferred choice is web-based.

Big Tech Detective →

Track the trackers

This browser extension (Chrome and Firefox) lets you block tracking scripts by Big Tech and gives you a statistical overview of the use of script on the websites you visit. Worth noting that Firefox already comes with a decent built-in blocker.

Streetmix →

Design your own street

In the many near-hit moments on my bicycle, I fantasise about inner-city roads designed for cyclists and pedestrians, not just cars. With Streetmix I can now put those design ideas into cute, shareable Sims-style proposals and maybe even send them to my council.


Worthy Five: Ravi Vasavan


Five recommendations by designer, signer and tinkerer Ravi Vasavan

A book worth reading:

Because Internet by Gretchen McCulloch is a great reminder of how beautiful and enriching languages are and how quickly they evolve. The book also reminded me how important it is to be in touch and play with my first language: Australian Sign Language.

A video worth watching:

Artist Christine Sun Kim Rewrites Closed Captions, because it’s going to change how you think about and read silence. Closed captioning should always be this granular and rich, giving equal access and information to a wider audience.

An Instagram account worth following:

Sam Youkilis takes mesmerising everyday videos that serve as a beautiful salve for the unnerving times we are in.

A question worth asking:

“What does inclusion mean to me? And what can I do to make my work inclusive?” A question to ask yourself and others in both personal and professional contexts.

A recipe worth trying:

Extra-Flaky Scallion Pancakes is a recipe that keeps on giving. Level it up by drizzling honey and crispy chili in oil over them. Go on and tinker.




Design Justice →

Community-led design practice

This new book by Sasha Costanza-Chock (who I’d love to interview for Offscreen, but so far couldn’t reach) packs a punch by laying bare the relationship between design, power, and social justice: “An exploration of how design might be led by marginalised communities, dismantle structural inequality, and advance collective liberation and ecological survival.”


Life & Thyme Post →

Global issues through the lens of food

If you’re a foodie, Life & Thyme might be your flavour of journalism. A membership-driven, global collective of correspondents covering the intersection of social, political and environmental issues through the lens of food. It’s mostly an online publishing platform and community, but the membership fee includes a beautiful quarterly print journal: the Life & Thyme Post.


Overheard on Twitter

I used to doubt I could make a difference because I’m just 1 person. Then I looked at the recommended serving size for Oreos & realized I do the work of 4-6 all the time.



Food for Thought

On Beethoven and the Gifts of Silence →


I had no idea that a) Beethoven went deaf and b) he composed some of his most popular works without hearing. “Deafness freed Beethoven as a composer because he no longer had society’s soundtrack in his ears.”

Bitcoin Mining Is Big in China. Why Investors Should Worry. →


As if Bitcoin isn’t a big enough F*ck You to the climate, huge parts of the cryptocurrency’s mining occurs in regions that come with other big moral question marks: “China was responsible for 65% of all Bitcoin mining. And of that, 36% takes place in Xinjiang, the largest regional component. Why? Cheap coal means cheap energy to power the machines that mine Bitcoin. ... Roughly 20% of new Bitcoin is mined in Xinjiang, the site of some of the world’s most egregious human-rights abuses.”

Sometimes The Party Was Meant To Stop →


I like Tobias’ ruminations here, talking about the longevity of platforms and how refreshing it’d be to build some things with a limited time frame in mind. “I’ve become more and more interested in this idea that a way to prevent falling into the need to constantly reproduce limited forms of success in projects is just to say; ‘it’s going to end when it meets x criteria or once y amount of time passes.’ We could set up degrees that run for 3 years, do a project and then close them instead of having to re-justify them for the changing world all the time.”

The art of misdirection →


There is a good metaphor for what social media is doing to us in here: let ‘the greatest pickpocket in the world’, Apollo Robbins, teach you something about the importance of (mis)directing your attention.


Aesthetically Pleasing

❏ ❏

The flyleaf is a blank page at the beginning or end of a book. Hungarian illustrator Aliz Buzas started capturing the story of the books she read on those flyleaves: “I was always attracted by the blank pages before the title of the books, but I thought that it would be kind of a vandalism to draw something there. After all, my initial desire won, and I started to draw small illustrations inside my books. To grab the essence of a book in this form is one of my favourite ways to relax.”

❏ ❏

Photojournalist Skanda Gautam with an engrossing photo series of (mostly migrant) laborers tossing bricks on their heads at a brick kiln in Bhaktapur, Nepal.

❏ ❏

These ‘Pop Portraits’ by Italian artist Alessandro Pautasso are a marvellous celebration of colours and patterns.

❏ ❏

The Africa font collection is composed of two styles, Africa Drylands and Africa Rainfall. “Africa Drylands characteristics can be distinguished by its sharp cut through the heart serifs, and hints of vertical tension. Africa Rainfall’s raindrop serifs are a strikingly beautiful contrast to its sharp counterparts. ”



Emailancer are your fast and friendly experts in email template design and development. We can deliver a custom design or convert yours into code that works across all devices.

Let’s Know Things is a calm, weekly news analysis podcast that is non-polemical, non-shouty, and dedicated to putting what’s happening today into more intelligible, useful context.

Alternative Assets: unique investment ideas worth exploring. There’s a million newsletters about stocks and venture capital. This is about the options that aren’t discussed as much.

Let’s reconsider the way business is done. A bi-weekly newsletter curating the best of sustainability and social impact, along with the top ‘jobs for good’ round-up in the industry.

Classifieds are paid ads that support DD and are seen by our 35,000 subscribers each week.

Book yours →


The Week in a GIF


Reply or tweet at DD with your favourite GIF and it might get featured here in a future issue.