Creativity is based on the belief that there’s no particular virtue in doing things the way they’ve always been done.

– Rudolf Flesch


Featured artist: Lucas Wakamatsu

Dense Discovery
Dense Discovery

Welcome to Issue 138!

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I’m grateful for the many discussions the Basecamp saga kicked off: whether we should bring our whole critical selves to work or leave the morals of our everyday lives at home; and whether that’s even possible in an industry that demands critical, disrupt-the-system thinking and constantly promises A Better Tomorrow.

Given that we spend the majority of our adult awake-time at work, it strikes me as odd when people argue that we should leave the principles, hopes and wishes that make us get up in the morning at the office doorstep. Especially at a time when work is invading our most private spaces – when meetings are held in tiny bedrooms while the reality of family life unfolds in the background – asking people to leave their morals at home is a bit... ironic, to say the least.

When publishers of books on rethinking workplace culture proclaim that work is not the place to be disruptive, one may argue that they just got a taste of their own medicine. Surely, if the tech industry is as progressive and transformative as it likes to portray itself, then critically examining the role work plays in our lives and how we affect the world around us by doing that work should not just be accepted but encouraged.

As a final note on the subject, I wanted to repeat what I said on Twitter: a great way to better align your personal values with the work you do is becoming a freelancer. If you’re willing/able to ride the ups and downs inherent in indie existence, freelancing gives you full control and flexibility over whom you lend your highly-sought-after tech skills to. Alternatively, another commendable way to combine your world views with your work skills is getting involved in the Public Interest Technology movement, where politics is the job. – Kai


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The Tiny MBA →

The shortest business book on earth?

There is no single right way to do things in business, but you can avoid lots of common mistakes along the way. Each page of The Tiny MBA offers ideas, prompts, clues and suggestions and reflections to help you navigate business in ways that most people only learn the hard way.


Apps & Sites

Rest of World →

Global tech stories

Massive congrats to the team at Rest of World, who is celebrating their first anniversary. RoW is a much needed international non-profit journalism organisation that documents the impact of technology in places that are typically overlooked or underestimated. I love the story behind their name too: “‘Rest of World’ is a ridiculous corporate term commonly used in global business operations. It’s a catch-all phrase that means, basically, ‘everyone else’. And it generally represents billions of people outside of the Western world. ... The term ‘rest of world’ is a symptom of a larger problem: a Western-centric worldview that leaves innumerable insights, opportunities and complexity out of the conversation.”

Whereby →

Browser-based chat (updated)

I always loved the simplicity of Whereby – a much more basic Zoom alternative that works without having to install invasive apps or create logins. They recently added a breakout room feature to divide larger meetups into rooms. It now also supports integration of other apps like Youtube, so you can watch a video together.

Typewise →

Alternative phone keyboard

Typewise replaces your default keyboard layout on iPhone or Android, supposedly making typing easier through a range of new gestures and differently shaped buttons. It sounds like something that could be really useful for a person with Wreck-it-Ralph hands like me. Installing it now...

See a Satellite Tonight →

Spot a satellite near you

Super smart: allow this website to locate you and then show you where and when to look at what exact part of the night sky to observe satellites flying by.


Worthy Five: Matt Clifford


Five recommendations by Entrepreneur First co-founder Matt Clifford

A Twitter account worth following:

Ethan Mollick, professor at Wharton, tweets summaries of amazing papers on entrepreneurship, innovation and more. There’s a gem almost every day.

A book worth reading:

The Kingdom by Emmanuel Carrère has the highest brilliance-to-fame ratio of any novel I know. It’s extraordinary in breadth and depth and I find myself thinking about it all the time.

An activity worth doing:

Keep a diary. It’s the simplest way to live an ‘examined life’ and is an investment that will pay off for decades.

A newsletter worth subscribing to:

‘AI in China’ might be the most important topic in the world that’s extremely difficult to follow through the mainstream media. Jeff Ding’s ChinAI is the consistently excellent answer.

A podcast worth listening to:

I discover more new ideas through the New Books Network than almost anywhere else. It’s so vast that it’s impossible to keep up with, but there’s always something new and fascinating.




Having and Being Had →

How to assign value to people, places and things

An exploration of how we spend, what we buy and why we work. “Having just purchased her first home, the poet and essayist embarks on a provocative exploration of the value system she has bought into. Through a series of engaging exchanges – in libraries and laundromats, over barstools and backyard fences – she examines our assumptions about class and property and the ways we internalise the demands of capitalism.”


Exponential →

Bridging the gap between tech and society

Offscreen alumni, newsletterer and podcaster Azeem Azhar has a new book coming out later this year, going deep on the ’exponential gap’ – the growing divide between the power of new technology and humans’ ability to keep up. “Azhar shows how this exponential gap can explain our society’s most pressing problems. The gulf between established businesses and fast-growing digital platforms. The inability of nation states to deal with new forms of cyberwarfare. And the sclerotic response of liberal democracies to fast-moving social problems.”


Overheard on Twitter

Science: Please just don’t use your phone right before bed and right after waking up, it’s literally destroying your circadian rhythm.
Me: No



Food for Thought

Every child on their own trampoline →


As you can probably tell by now, I’m doing a lot of reading on the shortcomings of our society of individualists: “Capitalism pushes us towards private affluence. We aspire to acquire our own things. Shared things are seen as second best, something of an inconvenience. Politics responds accordingly, prioritising economic growth and ‘more money in your pocket’, rather than shared goods and services. So everyone has their own lawnmower while the grass grows long in the park. People get their own exercise bikes or rowing machines, and the gym at the local leisure centre starts to look tired and under-funded. The wealthy pay for childcare or hire a nanny, but the early years nursery closes down.”

The joys of being an absolute beginner – for life →


A lovely longread about giving yourself permission to be a beginner again and gaining a new skill (in this case how to play chess) as an adult. “Children’s brains and bodies are built for doing, failing, and doing again. We applaud virtually anything they do, because they are trying. With adults, it’s more complicated. The phrase ‘adult beginner’ has an air of gentle pity. It reeks of obligatory retraining seminars and uncomfortable chairs. It implies the learning of something that you should have perhaps already learned.”

Why Having Friends of Different Ages Matters – And How It Can Impact an Ageist Society →


I wish having friends from different age groups was more common and more encouraged by the societal structures around us. It doesn’t take a genius to see the benefits but this post is a nice reminder and motivator to make a greater effort. “Sticking with the same friends you have had since high school or college can often mean you get pigeon-holed. It’s normal for us to change as we get older but sticking with friends you have had since your youth can often mean you are not fully understood as your evolved self. Finding new friends of different ages avoids this issue.”


Aesthetically Pleasing

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I love the use of Australian timbers here, set in contrast to dark greens with different textures. That green is not a colour I would usually gravitate towards, but it works so well in this renovated 1872 country cottage.

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London-based artist Rosie Woods creates fabric-like murals and paintings using prismatic tints.

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Japanese miniature and Mitate artist Tatsuya Tanaka creates adorable worlds made of tiny things.

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I love those eccentric alternates: “Oatmeal Sans is a contemporary neo-grotesque typeface with subtle sharp contrasts with multiple alternatives.”



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