It is not that I’m so smart. But I stay with the questions much longer.

– Albert Einstein


Featured artist: Negar Kian

Dense Discovery
Dense Discovery

Welcome to Issue 137!

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Whether it’s a newsletter, a podcast or a printed magazine, working in publishing has been described to me as ‘feeding an insatiable beast’ – after every meal, you immediately start looking for more food.

It’s not a nice metaphor but there is a certain truth to it that all publishers will appreciate: after one issue is always before the next. If you publish anything on a regular basis, you are constantly in the production cycle of a future edition.

Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoy my work. I often say that I have the best audience a publisher could wish for! At times it’s difficult to feel a sense of achievement, though, because before you get a chance to celebrate having released a good piece of work, your head is already stuck in the planning of the next piece.

So today, I want to use this intro to celebrate with you. To take a moment and appreciate the effort (mine and that of all the wonderful contributors) that went into the latest, just released issue of Offscreen. (Oh yeah, shameless self-promotion!)

I tentatively started with this issue late January, aware that the volatile COVID situation around the world would make scheduling things difficult. It took almost half a year for all the puzzle pieces to fall into place, but it eventually turned into a great issue that I’m proud of. More details in the Books section below.

To all my co-publishers out there: don’t forget to come up to the surface for some air. After almost ten years of running a magazine and more than six running a weekly newsletter, I know too well how easy it is to get sucked into the time loop of ‘the next issue’. Whatever you’re working on, make sure you occasionally pause to appreciate what you put out into the world. The beast will wait. – Kai


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Apps & Sites

Big Tech Detective →

Track & avoid tech giants

A browser extension that lets you track (and block) tech giants like Google, Amazon, Facebook as you browse the web. With so much of the web being hosted by or somehow connected to Big Tech, this tool aims to educate users about how data flows to and from the largest tech companies, revealing how integral those companies have become to the everyday experience of the internet.

Mindup →

Meeting optimiser

A web app that wants to make meetings more productive and outcome-focused through things like meeting templates and task assignments.

Inhabit →

Encourage greener habits at work

There isn’t all that much info on how exactly this tool works, but I like the idea of a framework companies can use to more easily create environmentally friendly policies that encourage behaviour change internally. I would be interest in seeing some examples of this tool in action (without having to sit through a sales pitch).

Take a Ride With Me →

POV bike rides

Okay folks, buckle up! This collection of point-of-view bike rides will make your heart race! Best experienced on a desktop and with the sound on. (It may take a while to load but it’s worth it, trust me!) The homepage is a bit confusing so I linked directly to one of the rides, but don’t miss the other ones through the menu on the top left.


Worthy Five: Sarah-Grace Mankarious


Five recommendations by visual journalist and pyramid enthusiast Sarah-Grace Mankarious

A video worth watching:

This recording of a graduate writing class at the University of Chicago. I watched this in the first semester of my journalism masters and it completely changed the way I thought about writing.

An Instagram account worth following:

Still Here Still Life is a weekly still life drawing challenge. It’s a fun activity to do for an evening. The challenges are always a visual delight, and it’s a great way to discover good illustrators.

A podcast worth listening to:

Kerning Cultures is a sharply produced documentary series covering stories about the Middle East and North Africa. Being half Egyptian, but raised in London, these stories build a rich picture of culture in a region that I desperately want to get to know more!

A book worth reading:

The Art of Travel by Alain de Botton is a philosophical narrative exploring how to travel, even when travel is limited to your own living space. Alain draws on the musings of great thinkers in an utterly enlightening way.

A recipe worth trying:

Chilaquiles Rojos is a traditional Mexican dish that I make when I have a bag of tortilla chips handy. It’s easy and abundant with texture! You get the crunch of the totopos before they soak up the fiery tomato sauce, then the creamy crumbly cheese and sharp fresh onion to top it off.




Mission Economy →

The moonshot moment for changing capitalism

I first mentioned economist Mariana Mazzucato in issue 68 with an article about her bold ideas to put public purpose first and solve the problems that matter to people, giving government a new role. Her book seems really interesting: “A powerful intervention, challenging governments to apply the same determination and co-ordination to the problems of society and economy as were once applied to putting men on the moon.”


Offscreen #24 →

From algorithmic injustice to inclusive design

We cover a lot of very timely, meaty issues in the latest edition of Offscreen: AI ethicist Ali Alkhatib talks about the inherent injustices of Big Tech’s algorithms, Inclusive Design trailblazer and professor Jutta Treviranus highlights the flaws of majority-based design (and truth-finding), writer and artist Xiaowei Wang explains the tech-driven interdependence between China and the West, and author and activist Jillian C. York describes how censorship works under surveillance capitalism.


Overheard on Twitter

My writing process involves writing 5 words, then switching to a different tab as a treat.



Food for Thought

The American-Dream-as-a-Service →


I’m not entirely on board with his views about humans needing to generate economic value, but this interview with Austen Allred, a founder of a pretty unique coding school, provides a great outside perspective on the flawed hiring process of the tech industry, and how it often affects marginalised groups the most. “The hiring process is not just a filter for skills, it’s also a filter for class. And people don’t talk about or acknowledge that. ... I didn’t know how to use Google Calendar until I showed up in my first job. Someone tells me, ‘I am gonna put some time on your calendar.’ And I think: Oh, I guess I have a calendar. That’s not obvious if you don’t come from, frankly, a certain class.”

A Better Way to Think About Climate Change and the Kids Conundrum →


A short interview with author and activist Naomi Klein on how she thinks about bringing kids into a world of climate breakdown. “One of the things COVID has shown is that the nuclear family is a terrible technology. It’s a relatively new one, and it’s a really bad division of labor. We need to have different simulations of family so that people can get the things they need without it being all about getting a bigger house with a bigger yard.”

Andrew Yang and the Age of Blah →


I don’t know that much about Andrew Yang or his mayoral campaign for NYC, but I agree with this piece about how Yang and Elon Musk are both in that group of ‘techno-populists’ with really bland and sterile ideas about the future. “It just makes me think, ‘Yeah, this guy [Andrew Yang] doesn’t understand anything beautiful, anything good’, like Musk and his little army of online acolytes, he just wants to make the world a meme.”


Aesthetically Pleasing

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Earth Restored: “Only 24 people have journeyed far enough to see the whole Earth against the black of space. The images they brought back changed our world. Here is a selection of the most beautiful photographs of Earth – iconic images and unknown gems – digitally restored to their full glory.”

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I love a good site that nerds out about a niche topic: “Dokodemo Sento is a website about sento (bath houses) in Japan. Here, you will discover many sento along with information, photos, and related events.”

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Stunning water colour and pencil artworks of flora and fauna by the talented Teagan White.

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Sculpin is a typeface inspired by the finishing details of square-edged tools like the chisel and brush.” Really digging those sharp edges!



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