An old friend of mine, a journalist, once said that paradise on earth was to work all day alone in anticipation of an evening in interesting company.

– Ian McEwan


Featured artist: Nahuel Bardi

Dense Discovery
Dense Discovery

Welcome to Issue 148!

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Inspired by a handful of lovingly crafted, small-run print publications that recently landed on my desk, I asked myself: what would a printed version of Dense Discovery look like?

Readers, new and old, frequently tell me that they get a lot out of digging through DD’s extensive online archive, unearthing forgotten but timeless nuggets from around the web. I love the newsletter format and have no reason to change it, but perhaps there is room for a printed ‘digest’ of revisited and updated highlights from past issues – the best of DD, compiled into a small, collectible zine.

I spent last week requesting quotes from my printer, playing with some early layout ideas in Indesign and reaching out to potential sponsors. And so far, it all seems doable ‘on paper’. (See what I did there?)

To keep it affordable, it’d be a zine-like, fairly low-key production: around 64 book-sized, staple-bound pages, printed in Berlin on recycled stock, certified climate-neutral. The economics of offset printing require a certain minimum print-run, and for this project it would be around 1200 copies.

Is there enough interest among DD readers to bring this idea to life? To find out, I put together a single-question survey: tell me whether you would consider purchasing a DD zine.

I’ll report back about your feedback in a future issue. – Kai


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Dense Discovery is a weekly newsletter at the intersection of technology, design, ethics and sustainability read by over 35,000 subscribers. Do you have a product or service to promote? Sponsor an issue or book a classified.


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Alternative Assets →

Unique investment ideas worth exploring

Whether it’s video games, books, domain names or even newsletters, we dive deep into what drives niche fields of collectibles to become interesting new markets. Our analysis provides unrivalled insights and uncovers fascinating stories along the way. Join us and explore Alternative Assets.


Apps & Sites

Catchafire →

Digital volunteering

Catchafire matches professionals who work online and want to donate their time with non-profits who are in need of their skills. From copywriting and video editing to illustrating and coding, there are thousands of volunteer opportunities that people from any corner of the globe can participate in.

Basmo →

Reading tracker

An iPhone app that gives bookworms a way to set reading goals, track progress, journal their experience and build collections for organising their book shelf.

Papercups →

Open-source chat widget

For those who want to offer a live chat on their website, Papercups provides an open-source, privacy-friendly alternative to the likes of Intercom or Drift. The self-hosted version is entirely free, while the hosted one comes with a generous free tier. Premium plans enable you to hook it up to Slack or Mattermost so you can answer requests straight from there.

Music Bubbles →

How location defines popular music

This intriguing new data visualisation project by The Pudding explores how your geographical location determines what sort of music you’re most likely exposed to and how pop music usually spreads in specific patterns across regions, countries and continents.


Worthy Five: Laura Gaetano


Five recommendations by UI/UX designer and martial artist Laura Gaetano

A question worth asking:

When I grapple with a difficult decision or when I’m running out of time to go through a long to-do list, I ask myself ‘What matters most?’ – it’s a question that never fails to help me stay focused on what’s important to me.

A book worth reading:

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi is one of the most powerful novels I’ve read in the last couple of years. A multi-generational epic on race and slavery, it’s stunning, heartbreaking, and brilliant.

A newsletter worth reading:

Hello Ruby by Linda Liukas – less a collection of links and more a collection of thoughts. It’s insightful, a little whimsical, and always a delight to read.

A podcast worth listening to:

I really enjoy the unconventional love stories narrated by Phoebe Judge in the podcast This Is Love. They’re beautiful and magical!

An activity worth doing:

Breathing with intent. Sometimes you don’t realise you’ve been holding it all in until you take a deep breath.




What White People Can Do Next →

Continuing the fight for racial justice

After a year that’s been described as a ‘racial awakening’ for many, Emma Dabiri provides practical, accessible advice on how to keep the momentum going. “In this robust and nuanced examination of race, class and capitalism, Emma Dabiri draws on years of academic study and lived experience, as well as personal reflections on a year like no other. With intellectual rigour, wit and clarity, Dabiri articulates a powerful vision for meaningful and lasting change.”


The New Breed →

How to think about robots

The depiction of robots in mainstream media is often heavily influenced by science fiction blockbusters. But how will the interaction and relationship between humans and robots (which are already among us) really evolve over the coming decades? “Here Kate Darling, a world-renowned expert in robot ethics, shows that in order to understand the new robot world, we must first move beyond the idea that this technology will be something like us. Instead, she argues, we should look to our relationship with animals.”


Overheard on Twitter

Jeff Bezos being lionized by rote, thoughtless coverage for going to space privately, decades after we did it first collectively, speaks of the ethos of an age: we’ve come to venerate what we do alone and sneer at what we do together. Let’s reverse that.



Food for Thought

Harder Than It Looks, Not As Fun as It Seems →


A lovely reminder to not take expertise or success at face value. There is always struggle behind the façade of a perfect story. “When someone is viewed as more extraordinary than they are, you’re more likely to overvalue their opinion on things they have no special talent in. Like a successful hedge fund manager’s political views, or a politician’s investment advice. Only when you get to know someone well do you realize the best you can do in life is to become an expert at some things while remaining inept at others – and that’s if you’re good.”

Theses on Techno-Optimism →


One of those longer essays that become more rewarding as you keep reading. A fantastic summation of what drives our belief in and hope for technology as humanity’s ultimate problem-solver. “Faced with serious challenges that our politics seem incapable of addressing, and which technological change have so far been able to miraculously solve, techno-optimism keeps the focus centered on the idea of an eventual technological solution. And most importantly this is a change that will mean that we do not need to do much, we do not need to act, we do not need to be willing to change, we just need to wait and eventually the technology will come along that will do it all for us.”

Environment as financial investment →


It’s controversial to put a monetary value on ‘nature’, but such an approach can help with reining in pollution and the mindless consumption of precious resources if our economic model of growth were to continue. This is a really interesting, well-presented and easy-to-understand lecture on “how the nature of financial investment is changing to better reflect the ecosystem of the planet we live on, and how investing in nature can underpin sustainable and inclusive economic growth”.


Aesthetically Pleasing

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Enthusiasts of Wes Anderson movies created the Reddit channel Accidental Wes Anderson to collect real life photos and scenes with similar aesthetics. This led to a best-selling coffee table book and this beautiful little zine.

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Artist Ben Sack creates giant, intricate drawings of labyrinths and cityscapes using pen and ink.

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I really enjoy the colour palette and use of simple black and white type in this branding project for a Polish company that (I think) makes water fountains.

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Nurture Display is an elegant, dynamic and expressive display typeface, designed by Melbourne-based graphic designer Gemma Mahoney.



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