For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong.

– H. L. Mencken


Featured artist: Stanislava Pinchuk

Dense Discovery
Dense Discovery

Welcome to Issue 154!

View/share online

For a while now, I’ve been following the cabin/tiny house movement online. If anything, daydreaming about an escape pod in the countryside makes inner-city lockdown life a little more bearable. But it’s not just living in the cabin I find intriguing, it’s the creative process of building it, too.

Constructed by frugal DIYers, most cabins are modest but highly personalised buildings with a lot of character. From hand-made tiles to salvaged floorboards, almost every material comes with a story. Looking at the kitchen benchtop, you’d never know that it was made from repurposed fence posts – laboriously dug out, cleaned, sanded, cut, glued together, sanded again, oiled and installed. Days worth of labour entirely invisible to the unknowing eye.

This unostentatious, intrinsically motivated approach to creativity stands in pretty sharp contrast to the world I inhabit online, where so much creative output is driven by external validation. And that’s (I think) why I’m so enamoured with this movement: it’s the quiet celebration of resourcefulness and creativity. There is a humbleness – a matter-of-factness – about the practical and creative skills involved that I find really enjoyable.

As a city dweller who lives in a small box in the sky, I don’t think I’ll ever become a cabin DIYer. Not sure if I want to. (Let’s be honest, people like me have overly romanticised views of building trades.) But I’m very grateful for YouTube where I can at least vicariously experience the process of building a cabin and learn from the inspiring make-do approach of others. – Kai


Become a Friend of DD →

With a modest yearly contribution you’re not only helping keep Dense Discovery going, you also receive special discounts and get access to the DD Index, a searchable catalogue of past issues.


Dense Discovery is a weekly newsletter at the intersection of technology, design, ethics and sustainability read by over 43,000 subscribers. Do you have a product or service to promote? Sponsor an issue or book a classified.


Personal Media for You & Yours SPONSOR


We believe relationships come first – the ones we create with our children and the ones we have with each other. Somewhere along the way, we’ve allowed the busyness of life to get in the way of meaningful connections with our most beloved people: our family and friends. We made Huddle for sharing personal moments with the people you feel close to. No ads, no likes, no gimmicks. Just you & yours keeping it real.


Apps & Sites

SigmaOS →

Browser as a workspace

A new browser that offers ‘productivity’ features not unlike some email clients, including the ability to organise tabs by groups, snooze tabs, and split screens to show multiple tabs. Currently for MacOS only, it seems.

Elevate →

Brain trainer

A daily trainer to improve cognitive skills like math, reading, writing, speaking, and recall. Over 40 simple games aim to make the learning experience fun and measurable.

1000 Dreams →

Stories by refugees

What a delightful idea for a storytelling project: 1000 Dreams tells the stories of 1000 refugees across Europe. A wonderful publishing idea that seeks to change prevailing refugee narratives in the media.

City Roads →

Flat, minimal city maps

Enter your city name and the tool renders a monochromatic map of all the streets in that city, without any names or labels. Download it as a vector file and then customise it. You could use it as a basis for a piece of art, maybe a poster for your office or as a gift for a loved one.


Worthy Five: Ahmet A. Sabancı


Five recommendations by writer, researcher and technologist Ahmet A. Sabancı

A concept worth understanding:

More-than-Human Politics’ is a concept coined by Anab Jain. It’s simply about understanding the limits of anthropocentric capitalism and politics, and why it’s time to leave this approach behind if we want to build a better world and not just delay the climate crisis.

A newsletter worth subscribing to:

Nothing Here is a bi-weekly newsletter curated by a group of smart people, collecting and commenting on interesting links from around the web. There’s always something in there that makes me go, ‘How did I miss this?’

A question worth asking:

‘What or who is missing?’ I ask this question anytime I need to better understand a situation. Usually the things or people left out are more consequential than those that are included.

A book worth reading:

New Dark Age by James Bridle is my go-to recommendation for anyone who wants to understand the complexity of the world we live in today and how the many problems we face are interconnected.

A quote worth repeating:

‘When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.’ I have this Hunter S. Thompson quote written on a post-it note over my desk as a reminder to embrace the weird, unique side of me and work with it, especially in strange times like this.


Books & Accessories


Bullshit Jobs →

Meaningless jobs and their societal harm

David Graeber’s book is based on his hugely popular essay On the Phenomenon of Bullshit Jobs: “Across the developed world, three-quarters of all jobs are in services or admin, jobs that don’t seem to add anything to society: bullshit jobs.” In his book, David Graeber looks at “how we value work, and how, rather than being productive, work has become an end in itself; the way such work maintains the current broken system of finance capital; and, finally, how we can get out of it.”


Disability Visibility →

First-person stories by people with a disability

Even though in the US alone, one in five people live with a disability, they are underrepresented in popular media and culture. This book celebrates and documents today’s disability culture, giving readers “a glimpse into the rich complexity of the disabled experience, highlighting the passions, talents, and everyday lives of this community”.


Overheard on Twitter

I am 32 years old and still deeply terrified that consuming anything from the hotel room minibar will bankrupt my entire family somehow.



Food for Thought

Luxury Surveillance →


This essay on surveillance technology compares, for example, fitness trackers with tracking devices worn by parolees and argues that those who buy ‘luxury tracking technologies’ automatically impose a greater level of surveillance on everyone else. “What does it say about our society’s adoption of technology that such different cognitive frames can be used to understand and obfuscate two faces of what is essentially one technology – that some eagerly adopt what others must suffer? ... Part of the answer clearly has to do with power, privilege, and one’s perceptions of them. People who feel socially disempowered are often sensitive to (or at least aware of) the presence of imposed surveillance, whereas those who align with power either ignore or welcome it as a luxury.”

How Friendships Change in Adulthood →


I really enjoyed this deep-dive on friendships and how they change (or don’t change) over the course of our adult lives. “Friendships are unique relationships because unlike family relationships, we choose to enter into them. And unlike other voluntary bonds, such as marriages and romantic relationships, they lack a formal structure. You wouldn’t go months without speaking with or seeing your significant other (hopefully), but you might go that long without contacting a friend.”

City of Bees →


Some beautiful notes by a beekeeper, reminding us of the humbling experience of ‘working with nature’ even in densely populated, urban environments. “Recently, I delivered honey from a client’s hives to his home. When I was leaving he walked out with me. ‘Thanks again for the honey,’ he said, tapping me on the shoulder for emphasis. ‘You don’t know what this means to us.’ But I understood that this household in the middle of a large city had just connected with nature. ‘You are a farmer!’ I told him.”


Aesthetically Pleasing

❏ ❏

How To Be At Home – a DD reader kindly sent this to me and it’s perhaps my favourite ‘discovery’ of the last few months. What a beautiful piece of art. (It’s especially relevant to us here on the east coast in Australia, where we’re still/again in lockdown for the foreseeable future.) Highly recommended!

❏ ❏

Shape Therapy is a popular Instagram account with hundreds of simple geometric shapes in its archive, and posting new ones daily. Pierre Voisin, the artist behind the account, also recently started selling some of his ‘shapes’ as posters. Friends of DD enjoy a 20% discount. Become a Friend to access specials like this.

❏ ❏

The Brooke is not your average tiny house. I absolutely love the interior of this small space: the industrial, dark theme is applied really consistently and makes the surrounding greenery pop out wherever you stand inside.

❏ ❏

Le Murmure is a custom typeface created for French creative shop Agence Murmure. The typeface uses a “skillful mismatch between characters” to create a unique rhythm. It works really beautifully in large headlines.



Stop snapping at the people you love. It happens to all of us & we always regret it. Beta-test our new app on managing negative emotions such as annoyance, impatience & anger.

Looking for experts in email template design and development? Emailancer can deliver a custom design or convert yours into code that works across all devices.

The Study: A biweekly bookish newsletter for lifelong learners and wanderers alike. Consider it your private space to discover new interesting reads.

Marketing for the self-employed: The book Build Your Audience teaches you to attract the clients you want and build trust to keep them coming back for more.

Classifieds are paid ads that support DD and are seen by our 43,000 subscribers each week.

Book yours →


The Week in a GIF


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


It’s Quiz Time!

Where is ice cream believed to have originated from?

Click on an option to find out.

China Sweden Turkey