Saving the internet requires a greater sense of shared ownership and fewer bystanders accepting whatever today’s internet has to offer.

– Mitchell Baker


Featured artist: Jorsh Peña

Dense Discovery
Dense Discovery

Welcome to Issue 128!

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I think many of us have reached or exceeded the point of saturation when it comes to consuming ‘content’. So the idea of paying a publication to receive more of the same feels less and less enticing, at least to me. Yet that’s the selling point of most paid newsletters.

While I can certainly appreciate the work involved, paying to receive a daily instead of a weekly newsletter, for example, is a big time commitment. The ‘more bang for buck’ argument quickly turns into a liability: I’m five emails behind but I can’t just delete them because, well, I paid for them.

When I initially thought of the Friends of DD program I was pretty sure I didn’t want to increase the frequency for paying readers. Ever since its launch, I was thinking of ways to make supporting DD attractive beyond the promise of good Karma or more emails.

Last week I was able to make that happen. With the generous help of DD Friend Vadim, we launched the Dense Discovery Index. It’s a speedy database of all items previously featured in DD. If you ever struggled to recall an app, book or article you saw in a past issue of DD, you can now search the index to find it quickly. This catalogue also allows you to browse items by category, rather than going through each issue individually in our public archive.

How do you access the DD Index? Become a Friend of DD to receive the login details. Once you’re a Friend, you’ll also find a link to the Index in each issue of DD, right below my intro. – Kai


Become a Friend of DD →

With a modest yearly contribution you help keep Dense Discovery going and get access to the Friends-only DD Index, a searchable catalogue of past issues.


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.


Design Like It’s 9:41 SPONSOR


DetailsPro →

Designer-focused GUI for SwiftUI design

Working with Xcode is slow and frustrating. Learning how to code just to use SwiftUI is a burden. That’s why we made DetailsPro, the fastest and easiest way to design for iOS. It’s a beautiful, intuitive environment that brings SwiftUI to designers. Download it today free on the App Store.


Apps & Sites

Daybridge →

Cards-based calendar

Daybridge (in beta) changes your standard calendar layout by incorporating ‘smart cards’ that provide relevant info and functionality to calendar events. It also structures and organises your timeline based on various personal info.

Column →

Interest-specific social network

Describing itself as “a social network for signal over noise”, Column gathers people in “sensibility-specific rooms” that can be public or private. By incentivising “high-quality information and respectful interaction” Column tries to keep things civil (although there’s little information on how exactly they are doing that).

Twitter Required Alt Text →

Enforce ‘alt text’

Want to become better at making Twitter more accessible? Here’s a browser extension (Chrome & Firefox) that replaces the ‘Tweet’ button on Twitter with an ‘Add Alt Text’ button until you add a description of the image you’re sharing.

The Feel Wheel →

An emotional word wheel

Oh, how I wish this was part of every curriculum, job training, and therapy session: Geoffrey Roberts’ Feel Wheel (a bit more background here, giving credit to Dr. Gloria Willcox) can help us extend our emotional vocabulary. Not-for-profit use is encouraged. Share it far and wide!


Worthy Five: Charlie Gleason


Five recommendations by designer, developer, wannabe polymath Charlie Gleason

A piece of advice worth passing on:

I imagine fame and riches are great and all, but have you ever sat down in the shower? It is genuinely life changing.

A book worth reading:

The Guest Cat by Takashi Hiraide is a short, sweet, moving meditation on life, family, and what it means to be home. Plus it has a cat in it.

An activity worth doing:

Keeping a journal. Once you get past feeling (very, very) self conscious, it’s surprisingly cathartic.

A question worth asking:

“How am I spending my time?” That’s not meant to be a rallying cry to a culture of overwork – quite the opposite.

A concept worth understanding:

There is, theoretically, a chance that we’re living in a false vacuum and somewhere in the universe a bubble is already expanding at the speed of light that will end everything. So, within reason, I wouldn’t worry too much.




Mistrust →

Regaining confidence in ‘the system’

Ethan Zuckerman explores our collective mistrust towards ‘the system’. “This loss of faith has spread beyond government to infect a broad swath of institutions – the press, corporations, digital platforms – none of which seem capable of holding us together. Mistrust introduces a set of ‘levers’ – law, markets, code, and norms – that all provide ways to move the world.”


Framework →

The upgradeable, repairable laptop

Like the Fairphone, the soon-to-launch Framework laptop attempts to offer a more accessible indie alternative to mainstream proprietary hardware. I doubt it’ll attract more than a small group of geeky individualists. But still, I think projects like this are a public demonstration of better informed consumers and will help send a signal about longevity and sustainability to big hardware manufacturers.


Overheard on Twitter

A friend informs me that their IT department has deployed a Report Phishing button on their email client with a 🐟 icon, promoting it with the slogan “When in doubt, click the trout.”



Food for Thought

The edge of our existence: A particle physicist examines the architecture of society →


Gosh, there are so many beautiful observations about science, (geo)politics, racism, space exploration and more in this piece – I didn’t want it to end. Bravo! “The plans for extraterrestrial expeditions that receive the most publicity are designed by power and for power. They are either supported by national governments to gain geopolitical advantage, or championed by the wealthiest individuals as a personal indulgence. I cannot see in their visions a safe, equitable place for someone like me, if there’s a place at all. I am too politically unruly for the Chinese program, too foreign for another country’s, too poor and female to expect entry on a billionaire’s ship with my dignity intact.”

Stop Keeping Score →


We love to make lists of big goals we want to achieve in life. Arthur Brooks explains why ticking off boxes of ‘things achieved’ might work against us: “We have every evolutionary reason to want to keep score in life – passing on genes is a competitive business, after all. But there is no evidence that Mother Nature gives two hoots whether we are happy or not. And, in fact, this kind of scorekeeping is a happiness error for two reasons: It makes us dependent on external rewards, and it sets us up for dissatisfaction.”

Facebook’s Supreme Court →


A fascinating deep-dive into content moderation on Facebook and its new Oversight Board which is supposed to act like a supreme court of the ‘world’s biggest nation’. “Missteps by Facebook in this area have fueled everything from a genocide in Myanmar to viral disinformation surrounding politics and the coronavirus.”


Aesthetically Pleasing

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Nature photographer Yves Adams got ‘one-in-a-million’ lucky, spotting a rare yellow King penguin during one of his shoots. (It’s yellow due to a condition that causes a partial loss of pigmentation, leaving the feathers and eyes with very little melanine.)

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The short 3D animations by Kyle Szostek are “surreal concepts that are existentially punishing, yet aesthetically pleasing”.

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I’m really enjoying the use of geometric abstraction, colour and type in the branding for Arper, a furniture manufacturer.

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The Climate Crisis Font is a free OpenType variable font whose weight “responds to NSIDC’s Arctic sea ice data from 1979 to 2019 and IPCC’s prediction all the way to 2050, showing how the ice is expected to shrink because of climate change based on current forecasts.”



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The Week in a GIF


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