There is the eternal war between those who are in the world for what they can get out of it and those who are in the world to make it a better place for everybody to live in.

– George Bernard Shaw


Artwork by Syddharth

Dense Discovery
Dense Discovery

Welcome to Issue 16!

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This week’s issue is coming to you early because of the holidays. We have a very special ‘sponsor’ this week that I’d like to draw your attention to: with the help of Via Studios we’re raising $1000 to give clean water to people in need. If the last 16 issues of Dense Discovery were of some value to you, please pay your appreciation forward and give as much as you can to help people less fortunate than us. More info below.

Whether you celebrate Christmas or not, I hope you get a few days to relax, read a good book, and most of all, are able to turn off your phone to contemplate about the year gone and the one ahead. DD will be back on January 2nd. See you on the other side! – Kai


Help Us Give


Let’s raise $1000 for clean water!

Via Studios has kindly bought this sponsor slot to raise awareness of the issue of water shortage in many corners of the world. Every day, about 1400 children die from diseases caused by unsafe water and poor sanitation.

So this Christmas season, let’s give back a little! Help us raise $1000 for Charity Water. Dense Discovery and Via Studios made a start by chipping in $50 each. Please keep it going:

Please donate here →


Apps & Sites

TellForm →

Free, open-source form builder

TellForm is a self-hosted, open-source alternative to Google Forms or Typeform. If you’re uncomfortable giving third party apps access to your users’ data, TellForm is a great, free alternative.


Editor for animated GIFs

To keep the animated GIFs in this email as small in file size as possible, I use this little web app to resize, crop, and optimise images before uploading. It doesn’t look like much, but the editor is extremely versatile. →

Remove the background of portrait shots

This tool made the rounds on Twitter last week and I just had a chance to give it a try myself. I’m pretty impressed with how accurately and effortlessly it extracts portraits from noisy backgrounds. Give it a shot (ha!) – nothing to download, it’s fully online.

Blisk →

A browser for designers & developers

Blisk is a browser built for testing sites and applications on various devices simultaneously, showing desktop and mobile views side-by-side and extending the standard set of DevTools.


Idle Knowledge


Icon by arejoenah

The weightlessness of privacy.

Because of Europe’s new data protection laws, USA Today now serves its European visitors a different version of their website which has all the tracking scripts and ads removed. It reduced page size from 5.2MB to 500KB, the load time from more than 45 seconds to 3 seconds, JavaScript files from 124 to 0, and total requests from more than 500 to 34.


Goods & Accessories


Desk Organiser Set →

Declutter your workspace

It comes in various colours, but I really like the grey version of this desk organiser set. It’s made from Valchromat which ‘has E1 certification and meets the highest environmental protection standards.’


Bellroy Work Folio →

A place for all your on-the-go accessories

Carry your A5 notebook, a pen, your phone, e-reader, a small tablet, some credit and business cards, and more all in one beautiful purse made from ‘environmentally certified’ leather.


Overheard on Twitter

My new requirement is that if my kid wants to download a new app, she has to write a one page report on the founders, company story, and business model so that she understands how the app benefits from her use. This is what happens when your mom works in tech.



Food For Thought

Tech companies abuse their power over your data →


This week’s must-read: The cloud cripples our personal data. This beautifully visualised essay shows how we can create a decentralised alternative in which design plays a crucial role in giving power back to users. A fascinating study of how on-device data handling enables new concepts that lead to better AI and UX.

Who Will Teach Silicon Valley to Be Ethical? →


Kara Swisher at her best: ‘How can an industry that, unlike other business sectors, persistently promotes itself as doing good, learn to do that in reality? Do you want to not do harm, or do you want to do good? These are two totally different things.’ [Possible paywall]

Attention is not a resource but a way of being alive to the world →


We talk a lot about attention as a scarce resource – an instrument to get things done that’s taken from us by addictive apps. But there is a more exploratory side to our attention: ‘Conceiving of attention as a resource misses the fact that attention is not just useful. It’s more fundamental than that: attention is what joins us with the outside world.’

We Shouldn’t Always Need a “Business Case” to Do the Right Thing →


Can we convince bosses to ‘do the right thing’ without requiring corporate incentives? ‘The problem is that our obsession with making the business case for ethics makes us sound apologetic and hollow. After all, there is also a business case for tax avoidance, deregulation, and even higher death rates.’


Aesthetically Pleasing


typo/graphic posters is a platform for inspiration and promotion of good design through the poster culture.


Wolpe Tempest serves projects that call for typography that’s dynamic, flowing and powerful – everything from game branding to billboard-sized posters.


Identitychrist by Joseph Lee mixes photography and paint to create surreal portraits.


A new light sculpture in the heart of Amsterdam highlights our obsession with technology and staring at screens.



Trying to get your focus back? For a distraction-free writing experience on any platform, try iA Writer.

Help Scout is looking for an experienced Product Lead to roll up their sleeves and ship excellent work to 8,000+ customers. Join a remote-first company full of dedicated folks!

CLARO is the to-do app you’ll want to use – simple as paper with all benefits of being digital. Get your early invite →

Upload video, enter shipping details, and get your flipbook printed & delivered to you. A new way to say ‘Miss you!’, ‘Love you!’, ‘Happy birthday!’ or even ‘Will you marry me?’

Classifieds are paid ads that support DD and are seen by thousands of our readers each week.

Book yours →


The Week in a GIF


Email us the URL to your favourite GIF and we might feature it here in a future issue.

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