Any sufficiently advanced negligence is indistinguishable from malice.

– Deb Chachra

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Featured artist: Yulong Lli

Dense Discovery
Dense Discovery
 

Welcome to Issue 131!

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I’m back from gorgeous Tassie and energised to dive into the final editing phase of the new Offscreen issue! After pausing the magazine for almost a year, I’m cautiously optimistic about being able to finalise issue 24 in April and – bar more shipping channels getting clogged up – deliver it within a reasonable time frame.

I started working on this issue in January with a very loose publishing date – ‘some time in April or May’ – knowing that everyone involved has very little control over how able or available they can be. Setting fixed deadlines for in-person collaborative work, like photo shoots, is pointless. And you know what? It feels strangely liberating.

I find myself ending a brief to a photographer with ‘Disregard any or all of the instructions above if it makes you feel uncomfortable. Do what feels safe, when it feels safe.’

It sounds weird, but it took a pandemic to finally allow (some of) us to design our work schedules around human needs, rather than some draconian productivity goals. The hustle part of my brain is thrown off balance and, I have to say, I’m here for it. – Kai

 

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Dense Discovery is a weekly newsletter at the intersection of tech, design, sustainability, and culture read by over 34,000 subscribers. Do you have a product or service to promote? Sponsor an issue or book a classified.

 

Invest in the Unusual SPONSOR

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Alternative Assets →

Unique investment ideas worth exploring

There are a million newsletters talking about stocks and venture capital. We talk about the rare opportunities they miss. Each week, Stefan and Wyatt dive into a different alternative asset, such as sports trading cards, sneakers, websites, even newsletters. Join us and discover Alternative Assets.

 

Apps & Sites

Camo →

Your phone as a webcam

The camera in most MacBooks isn’t particularly great. This app (also available for Windows users) connects your laptop or desktop with your phone so you can use your phone’s camera in video calls instead.

Editor X →

Advanced website builder

Editor X looks like a solid competitor to Webflow with a stronger focus on e-commerce, making it also a possible alternative to Shopify for smaller shops.

Climate Solutions 101 →

Climate action crash course

I’m excited to dive into this free new educational course about climate solutions by the excellent Project Drawdown: “Climate Solutions 101 is the world’s first major educational effort focused solely on solutions. Rather than rehashing well-known climate challenges, Project Drawdown centers game-changing climate action based on its own rigorous scientific research and analysis.”

Aesthetics Wiki →

Encyclopedia of aesthetics

This comprehensive wiki helps you understand the many different aesthetic styles and movements. For example, did you know of Cottagecore (also known as Farmcore and Countrycore) – “an aesthetic inspired by a romanticised interpretation of western agricultural life”? Or what about Vaporwave – “a tongue-in-cheek commentary on modern consumerism and the soulless glamour of late capitalism”?

 

Worthy Five: Sana Qadar

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Five recommendations by journalist and podcaster Sana Qadar

A concept worth understanding:

Benford’s Law. It has to do with numbers, and the frequency at which certain numbers appear. If I try to explain further, I’ll inevitably fail, but the Netflix series Connected has an episode all about it and it’s truly mind-blowing.

A Twitter account worth following:

Jennifer Gunter is a badass OB/GYN fighting health misinformation, especially as it relates to women’s health.

A recipe worth trying:

I hate to cook and I’m pretty rubbish at it, too. So if I can find a recipe for a one-pan/pot dish that’s big on flavour, but not too complicated, I’m in. This Mexican quinoa dish ticks all those boxes: it’s delicious, simple and healthy.

A phrase worth knowing:

I’m afraid I’ve got a not-so-refined answer for this: ‘We’re not here to f*ck spiders!’ As a Canadian living in Australia, learning Aussieisms has been a confusing (but amusing) process. This phrase beats them all. A politer translation would be ‘We’re not here to mess around!’ or ‘We’re here to get the job done!’.

A piece of advice worth passing on:

‘Treat others as you would like to be treated.’ After working in media for over fifteen years, I’ve come across plenty of big egos and the occasional bully. I find crappy behaviour and petty meanness utterly stupid and unnecessary. If you want a long and happy career, full of fruitful professional relationships and some close friendships too, this is a handy mantra to live by.

 

Books & Accessories CONSUME RESPONSIBLY

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Vanishing Asia →

Pictures of traditional Asia

Kevin Kelly, best known for co-founding WIRED Magazine, is also a prolific traveller and photographer. Beginning in ’72, he spent many years exploring hidden parts of Asia and the Middle East, capturing it on hundreds of rolls of film. This oversized book set combines over 9,000 captivating photos, documenting Kevin’s experience (as a white visitor, it has to be noted) of the many fast-changing cultures on the Asian continent and beyond.

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What I Eat →

Diets around the globe

The author of last week’s book, Material World, published another title in a similar vein that features 80 people from 30 countries and the food they eat in one day. Again, many of the fascinating photos from the book can be found on the author’s website. Just compare this person’s diet in Germany with what this Chinese woman eats and you may find some clues as to why we call many types of cancers ‘Western diseases’.

 

Overheard on Twitter

My therapist asked, “Where do you feel worthy unrelated to your career?” And I think that’s a question all of us – conditioned by job titles and grind culture – should sit with.

@alenciajohnson

 

Food for Thought

In Defense of Doing Nothing →

Read

This essay examines how we came to see busyness as a status indicator and why idleness is no longer considered an admirable state of being. “Our contemporary practices of glorifying productivity – our do-what-you-love ethos, the flood of self-help writing aimed at creating the appearance and the performance of never-ending work – shame idleness, attach a sort of divine purity to hustle, and raise questions about what leisure even is and who deserves it. This subtle, sleek commodification of experience in the name of some version of “living your best life” is not new; what has, over the last several years, become a cultural impetus to hustle is also built into decades-old political language.”

Is Your Carbon Footprint BS? →

Listen

I’ve written about the tension between individual and collective climate change action several times here in DD. This episode of How to Save a Planet takes on both sides of this debate, coming to a verdict I would largely agree with. One of the hosts, Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson, also provides a great answer to the question ‘What can *I* do about climate change?’, visualised in this tweet.

Food, Farming, and the Fate of Planet Earth →

Read

A brief overview of the impact of agriculture on our planet and how big a challenge it poses in regards to climate change. Some of the numbers are staggering: “Today, roughly 16 million square kilometers of the Earth’s land, or an area approximately the size of South America, is used just to grow the world’s crops. And another 34 million square kilometers, an area about the size of Africa, is used for pastures and grazing lands.” (Possible soft paywall)

 

Aesthetically Pleasing

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Spanish artist Jose Navarro likes “mixing concepts, images and colours” and the results are simply fun to look at.

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This beautiful off-grid home on New Zealand’s Waiheke Island consists of three separate structures that house different functions: “one for living, one for sleeping and bathing, and another one for guests – more like an encampment than a single house”.

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I love Ana Julia Gobbi’s play with light and shadows in the context of an urban environment.

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The Batangas typeface was inspired by the strong character of the people of Batangas (Batangueños), a province of the Philippines. It’s free for personal use and very affordable for any other use.

 

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The Week in a GIF

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