Patience is also a form of action.

– Auguste Rodin

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Featured artist: Helvetica Blanc

Dense Discovery
Dense Discovery
 

Welcome to Issue 166!

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I’m not sure if it’s my getting older that inevitably makes me a bit jaded or whether it’s my having developed a deep-felt scepticism towards the latest tech hypes that makes me feel old. Either way, I’ve lost that genuine curiosity about new technology that I felt in the early days of the internet.

There are still moments when I’m in awe of all the ways technology has enriched our experience of the world. But more frequently, there are moments when I feel an acute sense of imminent dystopia. It’s as if every new trend just adds more momentum to a rip current that’s pulling us into a future devised by surveillance capitalism.

The metaverse wouldn’t sound so creepy to me if it wasn’t a vision conjured up and sold to us by Big Tech. Given its track record, what are the chances it will come up with strong and fair principles around accountability and privacy, instead of just seeing it as the newest frontier of robber-baron capitalism where profit growth can finally be decoupled from physical scarcity?

I’d feel genuinely excited about the possibilities of cryptocurrencies, NFTs and other blockchain gizmos if I saw real use cases that aren’t just vehicles for speculative get-rich-quick schemes. No need to convince me of its potential – I get it. I get it as much as I got the potential that social networks held for bringing us closer together.

An internet future I could get excited about is unlikely to come out of a boardroom or a VC incubator. Some predict that Web3 will push us into a more decentralised, platform-busting, truth-driven future of the internet. But so far, the inklings of that future only capture our attention because they promise droolworthy returns. The focus on technology as a device for short-term wealth extraction hasn’t shifted a pixel – if anything we’ve become more spellbound by the lure of immediate returns.

Grumpy old me remains sceptical that we can break this tunnel vision. I want to feel more positive about the future of the internet. Please tell me in the comments what gives you reasons to be hopeful! – Kai

 

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Metorik →

Reporting for WooCommerce & Shopify

Metorik provides you with insightful reports, infinite segmentation, and automated emails, so you can spend less time stuck in spreadsheets and more time growing your store and focusing on your customers. It only takes moments to set up – try it free today.

 

Apps & Sites

Mediaopoly →

Ownership breakdown of your news diet

Give this little tool your Twitter name and it’ll show you a breakdown of who owns the media outlets of the articles you share. Don’t miss the ‘bias’ tab on the results page. By the way, if you don’t know the site behind this tool yet (Ground News) it’s worth checking out. They rate news from various outlets based on their political bias.

Qatalog →

A team homepage

We all rely on an ever increasing list of apps to get work done. Qatalog is a new umbrella app that connects them all through a simple dashboard. It allows you to search for files across apps like Slack, Dropbox or Google Workplace or to build project-specific overview pages to show progress, onboard new members and post updates to the team.

Rita →

Privacy manager

A central place to manage your privacy settings: connect Rita to Facebook and Google (and soon Instagram and Spotify) to get a breakdown of what personal data they have of you, how it is used and how valuable it is, and see what you can do to revoke access to it.

Innerbody →

Explore the human anatomy

A hugely detailed, visual breakdown of the human body. You can keep zooming and expanding every section of the body to get the exact name, description and location of even the smallest of body parts.

 

Worthy Five: Chella Ramanan

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Five recommendations by videogame writer and activist Chella Ramanan

A question worth asking:

‘Do I need to insert myself into this conversation?’ Think twice before you try to ‘relate’ to a discussion within a minority group you don’t belong to. Because often that comment will be a way of centring yourself, so you don’t have to confront the ways that conversation is challenging you and your privilege. So just don’t.

A video worth watching:

Sonya Renee Taylor, activist and author of The Body is Not an Apology creates videos that consider white supremacist delusion and how to unravel it. Her What’s Up Y’all videos got me through 2020 with truths we all need to hear.

An Instagram account worth following:

Sunn m’Cheaux is a teacher of Gullah at Harvard, destigmatising and preserving Creole languages spoken by the African diaspora. Sunn also encourages Black pride by connecting the linguistic patterns back to their African roots and then saying, ‘It’s your heritage talking.’

A book worth reading:

It’s always worth diversifying your bookshelf. Jacob Ross’s beautiful Caribbean crime novel The Bone Readers has a rich sense of Grenada and its history, wrapped in the fictional island of Camaho and his well-drawn characters.

A podcast worth listening to:

Surviving Society is a London-based podcast that explores local and global politics of race and class from a sociological perspective. It has extremely interesting guests! It’s also great to have discussions of race from perspectives outside the USA.

 

Books & Accessories

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How to Take Smart Notes →

Techniques for better note-taking

I admit that I’m a lazy note-taker; I hardly ever read with pen and paper, even though I’m aware that taking notes can make reading more rewarding in so many ways. This book – a recommendation by a DD subscriber – lays out a useful, easy-to-adapt framework for taking simple, well-structured notes of non-fiction writing.

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Nomad Magazine →

Creative cultures and their impact

The German publishers describe Nomad as a magazine that “promotes issues concerning quality of life, sustainability and society by curating the ideas of a growing global creative community”. Expect a potpourri of conversations with and essays by artists, authors, architects, entrepreneurs and designers. Friends of DD enjoy a 25% discount. Become a Friend to access specials like this.

 

Overheard on Twitter

The grass is always greener on the side that’s fertilized with bullshit.

@morganhousel

 

Food for Thought

The Park Bench Is an Endangered Species →

Read

A lovely, short piece about the common park bench, its many contributions to the public, and how its slow disappearance is yet another sign of fast diminishing public infrastructure. “In cities like San Francisco, the removal of public seating over the past three decades has become the chief alternative to meaningful public policy around homelessness. We don’t want to look upon the less fortunate; they are bad for business. Our cities are becoming more like Disneyland, which has been quietly removing public seating and replacing it with more restaurant seating. If you want a moment’s rest in 21st-century America, you have to open your wallet.” (Possible soft paywall)

Climate Reparations →

Read

You’ve probably come across the term ‘climate justice’ by now, but what does just climate action look like in practical terms? A great read that dives into possible solutions that recognise the dire situation of those who contribute the least to the problem but are most affected by it. “Disha Ravi is 23. She was born in 1998 in Tiptur, India, where by 2050, in even a moderate-warming scenario, the number of days each year when temperatures reach a threshold of lethality is expected to approach 100. A few hundred miles south, the number is expected to grow from about that level, where it already is today, well past 200.” (Possible soft paywall)

Time millionaires: meet the people pursuing the pleasure of leisure →

Read

‘The Great Resignation’ – the idea that COVID made lots of people quit their jobs for better life quality – is a story loved by the media and one steeped in privilege, as this piece shows. And yet, I do also enjoy reading about folks who, for the first time in their life, prioritise spare time over spare cash, and are loving it. “Any time we scrounge away from work is to be filled with efficient blasts of high-intensity exercise, or other improving activities, such as meditation or prepping nutritionally balanced meals. Our hobbies are monetised side hustles; our homes informal hotels; our cars are repurposed for ride-sharing apps. We holiday with the solemn purpose of returning recharged, ready for ever-more punishing overwork. Doing nothing – simply savouring the miracle of our existence in this world – is a luxury afforded only to the respectably retired, or children.”

 

Aesthetically Pleasing

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What a lovely brand design for Leva, a company specialising in the treatment of patients with chronic pain. Core to the design is a triangular colour model that represents their trifold treatment approach of mind, movement and meds.

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Enjoy this Flickr (!) album of random architectural details of London Pubs.

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Follow the popular National Archaeology account on Instagram for a regular dose of extraordinary landscape photography.

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Sharpie Pro offers wonderfully natural handwriting with tons of contextual alternates that give text a unique, personal touch.

 

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The Week in a GIF

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

 

Did You Know?

In the early 1900s, electric cars accounted for a third of vehicles in New York City.

Before gasoline-powered cars became the default, car manufacturers in the US built electric vehicles with a range of up to 100 miles. At the beginning of the 20th century, New York City had a fleet of electric taxis and almost every third car travelling around the city was battery-powered. Production of electric cars peaked in 1912, after Henry Ford introduced cheaper, mass-produced, gas-powered cars and the discovery of Texas crude oil reduced the price of gasoline.