We think too much and feel too little. More than machinery, we need humanity. More than cleverness, we need kindness and gentleness.

– Charlie Chaplin


Featured artist: Nora Toth

Dense Discovery
Dense Discovery

Welcome to Issue 134!

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I’ve always been a bit of a loner. I really cherish my alone time and appreciate social interaction in small doses. That said, I’m also cognizant of the fact that this kind of individualistic behaviour is a by-product of our modern lives and it isn’t something to be particularly proud of.

Western society conditions us to become ‘independent’ individuals. Relying on others is often seen as a weakness. But the idea that we can thrive in isolation – not being dependent on anything or anyone else – is, of course, misguided and untenable. It doesn’t take a genius to realise that we all interdepend. I’m reminded of this part in the book Active Hope:

“When hurricanes, floods, and earthquakes sweep away illusions of self-sufficiency, we are reminded how much we need one another, how much we depend not only on people but also on the larger web of life. We treat people with a different kind of respect when we consider that they might someday be pulling us out of the rubble. We treat the rest of life with a different kind of respect when we consider that without it, we wouldn’t be here at all.”

The way we celebrate individualism today – think of the many ‘self-made’ success stories – is ironic because we’ve probably never been more dependent on each other.

Only division of labour makes our highly specialised occupations possible: humans can float through space because rocket scientists don’t have to spend their days looking for food. Our modern lives just make our interdependence very abstract. I mean, who really thinks about their reliance on farmers during their weekly grocery shop? I don’t; I just expect there to be food on the shelves.

Where am I going with this? I guess I simply want to acknowledge my cognitive dissonance as someone who’s pretty introverted and tends to ‘fly solo’. At a time when there are fewer reasons to go outside and more ways to avoid each other, let’s not forget that self-reliance is an illusion. – Kai


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Apps & Sites

Minimal Twitter →

A decluttered Twitter

A browser plugin (Chrome and Firefox) that, among other things, removes the ‘Who to Follow’ and trending topics sections from Twitter’s web experience.

Photopea →

Online image editor

This impressive web-based image editor works with Photoshop, GIMP, Sketch, Adobe XD, and even CorelDRAW files. The familiar interface (Hello Photoshop!) makes getting started easy.

Movie of the Night →

Streaming services database

Looking for a highly rated French Action movie, released between 2015 and 2020 with a specific actor in it? This app enables you to search the database of multiple streaming services in different countries to find your favourite types of movies.

Trails of Wind →

The architecture of runways

A fascinating mapping project that looks at the orientation of the world’s airport runways. “The mark we leave on earth is more substantial and lingering than that of any other living being. But when we inspect the larger picture, we find an undeniable tendency for natural conditions to guide the human path.”


Worthy Five: Sindhu Shivaprasad


Five recommendations by communications strategist and writer Sindhu Shivaprasad

A Twitter account worth following:

Visualize Value by Jack Butcher: thoughts and learnings succinctly visualised through self-imposed creative restraints.

A concept worth understanding:

The Most Respectful Interpretation involves making the most generous interpretation of a situation, person, or words to challenge default negative assumptions and increase empathy.

A word worth knowing:

Lipogram, a literary piece in which one letter of the alphabet is intentionally avoided. The ultimate challenge is skipping over common letters — like Ernest Vincent Wright’s novel Gadsby, which has 50,000 words but not a single ‘E’ to be found.

A piece of advice worth passing on:

‘Making mistakes is better than faking perfection’ is something I’ve been told in all capacities by different people. I grapple with it as a perfectionist, but I’m all the better for it.

A newsletter worth subscribing to:

Fifty Two for remarkable deep-dives into aspects of the Indian subcontinent’s culture, history and politics.




Extra Bold →

An inclusive graphic design field guide

This looks wonderful: “Part textbook and part comic book, zine, manifesto, survival guide, and self-help manual, Extra Bold is filled with stories and ideas that don’t show up in other career books or design overviews.” I wish something like this existed for the web design/dev community when I started out. Imagine what a different place the tech community would be if we thought more about D&I from the start!


Analogia →

Connecting nature, humans & machines

Gotta love a book that puts technological achievements into historical context: “From an eighteenth-century Russian expedition to the furthest reaches of North America, to the mirror signals that heralded the age of digital long-range communications and the invention of the vacuum tube, Analogia interweaves historical adventure with scientific insight in a deeply personal story that frames the pursuit – and cost – of the digital revolution in a captivating new light.”


Overheard on Twitter

Grandma said Twitter is just Reader’s Digest for Gen X and I had to sit down and stare at the floor for a few minutes.



Food for Thought

The Referendum →


What a delightful piece about the life of people without kids! Voicing a ‘no-children’ preference as an adult often brings out some scornful reactions, but it’s hard to deny that this piece hits the nail on the head in a hilarious, semi-serious but oh-so-real way. “At 42 I’ve never been married and don’t want kids. I recently had dinner with some old friends, a couple with two small children, and when I told them about my typical Saturday in New York City – doing the Times crossword, stopping off at a local flea market, maybe biking across the Brooklyn Bridge – they looked at me like I was describing my battles with the fierce and elusive Squid-Men among the moons of Neptune. The obscene wealth of free time at my command must’ve seemed unimaginably exotic to them, since their next thousand Saturdays are already booked.” (Possible soft paywall)

Moving the Big Boat Did Not Magically Fix the Global Economy →


Tim Maughan with a take on The Big Boat story that illustrates the complexities of our globalised systems (and their deterioration), and how we thought COVID would finally upend things for the better. “If that all sounds bleak and confusing, it’s because, well, it is. A year on and we’re back to feeling like everything is in the free fall of collapse again and that it’s all too much for us to comprehend, let alone change. But we can do both if we really want to, if we really fight for it, and if we come together. As things get worse, the only answer is to try to recapture that spark of collective action.”

Why our relationship with young achievers is so complicated →


How older generations feel about popular young achievers is an interesting psychological question I hadn’t spent much time thinking about. This piece offers some pretty compelling insights into our difficult relationship with adolescent celebrities. “‘We love to see talented young people achieve impressive things, but there is also a sense of envy always lurking in the background,’ says Plucker. Beyond jealousy, he says, negative emotions toward young achievers could be due to feeling that your own accomplishments are underappreciated by comparison.”

Beneath the blue: dive into a dazzling ocean under threat →


A beautiful, sobering piece of journalism that uses illustrations and data visualisation to highlight the impact of human pollutants on the different types and layers of marine life.


Aesthetically Pleasing

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Loe Lee’s fabulous Creatures of Hope series depicts friendly, helpful creatures as “an embodiment of the NYC-spirit” during the COVID crisis.

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Lovely editorial design for Poly Magazine by German design collective Morphoria.

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The travel and street photography by Navin Vatsa offers a beautiful glimpse of daily life in urban and rural India.

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Klim’s newest font family: “Mānuka grafts a contemporary antipodean aesthetic onto 19th century German root-stock. Tight spacing, closed apertures and sharp joins make a compelling texture, like sunlight sparkling through a forest canopy.”



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