Once we’re thrown off our habitual paths, we think all is lost, but it’s only here that the new and the good begins.

– Leo Tolstoy


Featured artist: Palette Box

Dense Discovery
Dense Discovery

Welcome to Issue 162!

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Last week marked a real personal milestone. After almost exactly a decade (and 24 issues) of publishing Offscreen Magazine as my main job, I shared with my readers that the publication will transition to a new editor: Patrick Tanguay.

‘Letting go’ of something that consumed a good quarter of my life has been a mixed bag of emotions. Offscreen – or rather the amazing community of readers that grew around it – filled me with a lot of joy and pride over the years. It’s difficult to put into words the appreciation I feel for everyone who ever bought a copy or sponsored an issue and, by doing so, helped establish Offscreen as a respected voice in its niche.

It wasn’t always smooth sailing. Print publishing is a tough nut to crack. More often than not, what you find inside looks like a frugal existence, not a thriving business. Over the last ten years, I witnessed the arrival of countless new indie titles with much Kickstarter fanfare, only to disappear again after one or two issues. And that’s what makes Offscreen’s ten year anniversary so special: it endured because, against all odds, it found a loyal, caring audience of internet people willing to pay for ‘offline content’. Who’d have thought?

Okay, this is starting to sound like a eulogy. As I said from the start, Offscreen will continue! The whole point of this ‘hand-over’ is to ensure Offscreen’s continued existence and to breathe some new life and fresh ideas into it! As a reader myself now, I couldn't be more excited to see what Patrick comes up with over the coming issues. That’s why I want to encourage you to start or renew your subscription to give Patrick a confidence boost and show him that we’re here to stay, too!

With my transition out of Offscreen, DD will (at least for now) become my main income source. So if you’d like to support me directly, the easiest way to do so is to become a Friend of DD and to tell others about DD if you’re enjoying the newsletter. (Here’s a tweet I prepared earlier.)

That’s enough humblebragging for one week. Thanks for being here! – Kai


Become a Friend of DD →

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


Time to Scale? SPONSOR


Antimatter Marketing →

Don’t hire a marketing team

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Apps & Sites

Unplug Alarm →

Macbook theft protection

After activating Unplug Alarm on your Mac, as soon as someone unplugs your laptop from the charger or closes the lid, it sounds a loud alarm, even when muted, and sends a push notification to your mobile. It’s not exactly preventing theft, but it offers peace of mind whenever you briefly need to step away from your computer in a public space.

Guardo →

Bookmark organiser

I rely heavily on Raindrop to organise the many links that eventually make it into DD. Guardo is a new-ish alternative that offers similarly powerful bookmark management with features like adding notes and tags to bookmarks, organising them into (nested) collections and sharing collections publicly.

Bentoism →

Redefining self-interest

I’ve been following the work of Yancey Strickler, the co-founder and former CEO of Kickstarter, for while now. I love his dedication to Bentoism, a movement he founded. What is Bentoism? “Bentoism (an acronym for BEyond Near Term Orientation) is a wider lens for what’s valuable and in our self-interest. This includes what I as an individual want and need right now (Now Me). But it also makes space for the considerations of our future selves (Future Me), the people we rely on and who rely on us (Now Us), and the next generation (Future Us).”

SubmarineCableMap →

Underwater tubes

“The internet is not a big truck. It’s a series of tubes. How easy it is to forget that the internet is powered by a network of long, thick submarine cables that link continents and islands like a hidden plumbing system. What a fascinating look at how it all connects.


Worthy Five: Yumi Tsoy


Five recommendations by insights manager at impact VC Yumi Tsoy

A question worth asking:

Do I really need that shirt/book/sandwich delivered right now? While there’s nothing more appealing to me than instant food, questioning our expectations of immediate gratification can help avoid needless consumerism.

A concept worth understanding:

The focusing illusion – a cognitive bias that means we often attribute a higher importance or probability to the things that we are currently thinking about. It explains a lot about why people are scared of the things they see in the news, but once understood, can help to maintain perspective.

A book worth reading:

Eat a Peach – a mixed bag of reflections from chef David Chang (you might know him from Netflix). It wasn’t necessarily intended as such, but I think it’s a great introduction into the realities of building a business with all the mess and joy that comes in between.

A Twitter account worth following:

Karen Hao, who is the editor of MIT Technology Review, talks and links to fascinating (and often questionable) developments at the intersection of technology and ethics. It’s for anyone interested in working towards a fairer society.

An activity worth doing:

Starting a side project! Whether it’s growing basil in your kitchen or pursuing a lifelong dream, everyone can benefit from a bit more play.


Books & Accessories


The Dawn of Everything →

A new understanding of human history

Released in early November, this new book by David Graeber (author of Bullshit Jobs) and archaeologist David Wengrow upends some major assumptions about the linear development of homo sapiens. The book “fundamentally transforms our understanding of the human past and offers a path toward imagining new forms of freedom, new ways of organizing society. This is a monumental book of formidable intellectual range, animated by curiosity, moral vision, and a faith in the power of direct action”.


Phosphorescence →

New perspectives through awe and wonder

A reader recommendation: a book that makes us gain a new perspective on life by helping us grasp the mysterious beauty of the universe. “A beautiful, intimate and inspiring investigation into how we can find and nurture within ourselves that essential quality of internal happiness – the ‘light within’ that Julia Baird calls ‘phosphorescence’ – which will sustain us even through the darkest times.”


Overheard on Twitter

My favorite childhood memory is my knees not hurting.



Food for Thought

The Largest Autocracy on Earth →


What does it take to rein in Facebook’s destructive power? Treating it like a nation state, or rather a hostile foreign power, may be the way. “Perhaps Americans have become so cynical that they have given up on defending their freedom from surveillance, manipulation, and exploitation. But if Russia or China were taking the exact same actions to undermine democracy, Americans would surely feel differently. Seeing Facebook as a hostile foreign power could force people to acknowledge what they’re participating in, and what they’re giving up, when they log in. In the end it doesn’t really matter what Facebook is; it matters what Facebook is doing.” (Possible soft paywall)

The Nasty Logistics of Returning Your Too-Small Pants →


The rise of online shopping also led to a massive increase in returns. What happens to returned items is a grey area that many companies simply don’t want to talk about because it may affect ‘consumer confidence’. “Retailers of all kinds have always had to deal with returns, but processing this much miscellaneous, maybe-used, maybe-useless stuff is an invention of the past 15 years of American consumerism. In a race to acquire new customers and retain them at any cost, retailers have taught shoppers to behave in ways that are bad for virtually all involved.” (Possible soft paywall)

Hannah Gadsby’s Graduation Address →


Every minute of this short graduation address by Hannah Gadsby (of Nanette fame) is worth it! “For now, ask yourself, ‘Who do you want to be?’ Don’t ask yourself what you want to achieve. Honestly, the world already decides so much of that for you. Only privileged few get to set goals and achieve them. It seems otherwise, but that’s only because successful people are the only ones who get to speak. And they prefer to think they did it on their own.”


Aesthetically Pleasing

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Continuing our series of photo contest winners, here are the winners of the wildlife photographer awards of the year 2021.

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Filed under ‘only on the internet’: there is a Reddit channel called Produce where people geek out about neatly laid out produce displays.

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This restoration of a 1830s weatherboard cottage in Tasmania peels back layers to reveal the long history of this modest building and adds just enough new layers to create a comfortable, truly unique home that is rich in texture and respectful of the past.

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Graf is a new display typeface with smiling ink-traps that make the font “either have a strong stand or a friendly approach depending on the medium used”.



Read a no-nonsense roundup of the most impactful global environmental stories and studies of the week. Plus jobs, events, resources, happy headlines and our greenwashing radar.

Feeling professionally burnt out or creatively unfulfilled? You are not alone. Accomplished creatives at a crossroad who are ready to reinvent rely on Coach Peleg Top for guidance.

How do you increase your capacity for empathy? Subscribe to Mostly Useful for some encouragement & inspiration for those wanting to live more empathetically. Now that’s just neat!

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The Week in a GIF


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Did You Know?

That distinctive, earthy odour that is associated with rainfall is called petrichor.

When raindrops land on a porous surface, air from the pores forms small bubbles, which float to the surface and release aerosols. Such aerosols carry a scent as well as bacteria and viruses from the soil. The scent is called petrichor.