Perhaps one did not want to be loved so much as to be understood.

– George Orwell


Featured artist: Mark Conlan

Dense Discovery
Dense Discovery

Welcome to Issue 159!

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I have to say, I didn’t expect to get that many responses to my short piece about the Sarno method. So many readers reported a similar experience and found (or now hope to find) pain relief in this book.

I should add/clarify that I still occasionally have aching wrists from working in bad posture or under stress. As a runner, I also have recurring foot and knee problems, but none of that compares to the intense, agonising pain I experienced back then.

Coming out the other end of a chronic pain journey because of something as ‘simple’ as acknowledging the role of the subconscious has been pretty enlightening to me. If anything, Sarno’s work helped me overcome some of the scepticism I held/hold towards the ‘mindfulness movement’.

In our world of unalloyed commercialisation, I don’t think I’m the only one who struggles to navigate the health space. Much of the frustration I felt during that time came from the disappointment in all the products and services that promised improvement but did little else than cost money.

(One of my favourite examples is ergonomic office gear. Those expensive, posture-supporting designer chairs often have the opposite effect: they weaken the muscles you ought to develop for a better posture. To paraphrase one of my therapists: ‘You can sit on a log if you like. Just don’t sit for so long that your body fatigues and disintegrates into a sad ball of a human.’)

In the end, I think reading Sarno’s book was a circuit breaker. It provided the necessary perspective shift to overcome the pain pattern I had developed over years. To stay healthy and be able to continue the repetitive work of pressing buttons for the internet, I take the magic pill recommended by every doctor, health influencer and mindfulness guru: exercise. – Kai


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Apps & Sites

Focalboard →

Open source project management

Describing itself as a free and open source alternative to Notion, Trello and Asana, Focalboard “helps define, organise, track and manage work across teams, using a familiar kanban board view”. Interestingly, the personal edition comes as a Mac/Windows standalone app, while the team version can be installed on your own server.

Bobby →

Subscription tracker

This little iOS-only (I think) app helps you keep track of the many subscription payments in your life. Whether it’s paid plans for SaaS apps, streaming services or your Friends of DD membership, capture them all in Bobby to get a better picture of your monthly and yearly expenses.

Zopeful →

Climate email course

I recently signed up for Zopeful’s free ‘Intro to Climate’ course, which – over a two-week period – sends you a daily ten-minute-long email that guides you through the complexity of the climate crisis, starting with the basics and going quite deep into the current science and solutions. It’s new and still a little rough around the edges, but I did learn a few more things and appreciated the down-to-earth, non-judgy approach.

Sell Sell Sell →

Capitalism at work

“Capitalism ramped up in the 21st century, and if you’re not selling, you’re losing. Here are some products that won capitalism.” Neal Agarwal makes lots of other fun, interactive one-pagers, like Ambient Chaos where you can mix cozy campfire ambience with the sound of an arguing couple. Or try Spend to see how much you can buy with Bill Gates’ fortune.


Worthy Five: Tess McCabe


Five recommendations by graphic designer and publisher Tess McCabe

An Instagram account worth following:

Icelandic artist Ýr Jóhannsdóttir makes often inspired, sometimes awkward, mostly ingenious recycled wearable knitwear creations.

A book worth reading:

Nomadland by Jessica Bruder. I’m fascinated by where people live, so I loved the film adaptation. The book goes into much more detail about the drivers (pun intended) behind van-dwelling.

A podcast worth listening to:

Wardrobe Crisis unpicks the concepts of sustainable and ethical fashion (as well as design, architecture, food systems, and more). There’s a large back catalogue of episodes and the recent Pass The Mic episodes were great.

An activity worth doing:

Checking out a dozen or more library books/magazines – on any topic that vaguely interests me – then camping out on the couch for a few hours. Dipping in and out of different titles satiates my addiction to scrolling, without that eye-burning blue light. Works for your neglected book and magazine collection at home, too!

A piece of advice worth passing on:

I often come back to this gentle ‘rules for life’ list from the artist Nathaniel Russell: “Make things you want to see; learn about yourself and the world; put on your own shows; make your friends laugh; try not to drive yourself nuts or be too hard on yourself; try to be a good person; do what it is you feel like you should be doing.”


Books & Accessories


Four Thousand Weeks →

Time and how to use it

One of my favourite life advice writers and The Guardian regular with a new book that’s trying to answer the question: How should we use the 4000 weeks that make up an average human lifespan? “Rejecting the futile modern obsession with ‘getting everything done’, it introduces readers to tools for constructing a meaningful life, showing how the unhelpful ways we’ve come to think about time aren’t inescapable, unchanging truths, but choices we’ve made, as individuals and as a society.”



Unlinking graphic design from capitalism

Does graphic design need capitalism? Most creative agencies charging exorbitant fees certainly do. But is an alternative model possible? This bold new title charts the long history of the relationship between graphic design and capitalism and offers examples of design practices and collectives that push against the conventional economic model.


Overheard on Twitter

Want to get ahead in life?
Start genuinely rooting for others to succeed.
It’s as simple as that.



Food for Thought

The housing theory of everything →


I wish I had read and included this piece in issue 157 when I talked about housing density in my intro. A really insightful, comprehensive essay that links housing affordability to almost every social, environmental and economic issue experienced by our society. “Once you see the effects housing shortages have on things as wildly different as obesity, fertility, inequality, climate change and wage growth, you start to see them everywhere. ... According to one study, if just three cities – New York City, San Jose and San Francisco – loosened their rules against building denser housing to the national average level of restrictiveness, millions would move to jobs that made the best use of their skills and total US GDP would be 8.9% higher. This would translate into average American wages being $8,775 higher per year.”

The Internet of Grift →


I have to admit that I appreciate a good rant about NFTs. “It is an oligarchy masquerading as a meritocracy (or a utopia), where the rich have built mechanisms to increase the value of their assets, drumming the desperate into a frenzy of people looking to become one of the rich months (or years) after that was possible. Celebrities like Lindsey Lohan aren’t joining because they care about art or NFTs or crypto – they are intentionally capitalizing on a frothy market that’s purpose-built to screw over the investor. It is built to overvalue assets that come from a famous person, just as the regular art investment world is, but with even less tangible goods and more chances to get utterly, irreversibly screwed.”

The Ugly, Dangerous, and Inefficient Stroads found all over the US & Canada →


I love geeking out about urban design and its shortcomings as a result of our obsession with cars. This reader recommendation is a great example, highlighting the effects of ‘stroads’. “Stroads are streets that are designed like roads and in doing so, fail at being good at either one. They are too sprawling and hostile to be good streets, and they are too busy and complicated to be good roads. Stroads are inefficient, unsafe, expensive, and ugly.”


Aesthetically Pleasing

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Breathe, and enjoy this short list of remarkable trees from around the world.

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Very tempted to order one of these colourful prints by Studio Feixen.

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This installation by Australian artist Joel Adler provides a new perspective on the interaction between ocean and Sydney’s shoreline: “‘Viewfinder’ is a large periscope-like sculpture reflecting a previously unseen view of the ocean below. Consisting of a 200kg mirror cantilevered by 6 tonnes of concrete and steel the structure reflects both light and sound to create a mesmerising display of the ocean.”

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Asgard is an energetic, expressive, sans serif super family with 72 (!) weights, including wide, slanted and backslanted versions.



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The Week in a GIF


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Did You Know?

The Curse of Knowledge is a cognitive bias that can make it harder for experts to teach beginners.

Sometimes the more you know about a thing, the harder it is to explain. An expert in a field often struggles to teach beginners because the expert assumes that certain things that are obvious to them are also obvious to the beginners. It’s a cognitive bias called The Curse of Knowledge. It negatively affects how we communicate and how we understand other people’s behaviour.