I’ve often noticed that we are not able to look at what we have in front of us, unless it’s inside a frame.

– Abbas Kiarostami


Featured artist: Gaspart

Dense Discovery
Dense Discovery

Welcome to Issue 167!

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If you feel unqualified to wade into a debate about economics, you’re not alone. However, there is a particularly consequential debate unfolding among economists that’s worth untangling: what does the future of capitalism look like in a world of ecological breakdown?

On the more conservative, pragmatic side of this debate, economists who believe in ‘green growth’ see climate change as an opportunity: electrifying everything requires massive investments which will deliver new industries, new jobs, new GDP growth. It’s the free market economy you know, but with a green tick.

On the opposite end are the ‘degrowthers’ who advocate for a planned and equitable downsizing of rich economies. Their model wants us to shift away from GDP growth as the main indicator of a healthy economy, promoting a simpler life with less focus on material consumption.

The main argument against the degrowth movement has always been that people would never vote for an economic model that forces them to consume less, and therefore it’s nothing more than wishful thinking. Degrowthers usually reflect that criticism by pointing out that spruiking perpetual growth is the true snake oil because it requires infinite resources on a finite planet.

This recent podcast episode of The Conversation Weekly provides a nuanced assessment of the pros and cons of degrowth. I especially like what Lorenzo Fioramonti, a professor of political economy and a serving Italian MP, had to say about a ‘well-being economy’ which could make some of the ideas behind the degrowth movement more politically digestible. He concludes:

“There is a contradiction: I think we’re intellectually prepared to understand what needs to be done, but our policy tools are still stuck [in] the world we had a few years ago. The question is not whether we’re going to change or not. We are going to change. The question is whether the pace is going be the right one, because if we’re too slow, the change is not going to make any difference.”

If you’ve come across the term ‘degrowth’ before but never bothered to look into it because it sounded utopian or just complicated, take 30 minutes to listen to this podcast episode – it’ll give you important context to form an opinion. – Kai


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Standart →

Ships worldwide with coffee for free

Love coffee? Subscribe to Standart, a climate-neutral certified print magazine about specialty coffee and the people that surround it. The new issue 25 is out now and ships with Colombian Asociación Palestina specialty coffee for free. Sit back, put the kettle on – and join today.


Apps & Sites

Cron →

A better calendar for Mac

Cron promises a calendar app that does away with all the extensions and workarounds you currently use to schedule, manage and attend meetings. With an intuitive UI, better tools for collaboration and deeper third party integration, Cron hopes to become the new go-to for professionals with a busy schedule.

Escape 2 →

Website time tracker

This non-intrusive little Mac app will count how often you visit certain websites and track the time you spend on them to give you a better picture of where your screen time goes. You can set quotas for each site and get notified when you reach them.

Bread on Earth →

A bread library

For those of you that have (re)discovered the craft of bread making during COVID: Bread on Earth is a geeky library of recipes, essays, pictures and links, all about the art of the loaf.

Shipmap →

Global shipping routes

This mesmerising interactive map uses positioning data of cargo vessels to replay shipping routes around the world. Disable the map (in the options settings) and see how the position of ships trace the outline of continents!


Worthy Five: Peter Bihr


Five recommendations by independent tech advisor Peter Bihr

A question worth asking:

‘Can I just try this out? Is it reversible?’ It’s a great way to not sweat every decision. Alas, I don’t remember where I got that advice but it’s served me well.

A book worth reading:

Where Wizards Stay Up Late by Katie Hafner and Matthew Lyon is a mid-90s book about the origins of the internet, reminding us that it was designed by people, with intent. We can design and change it to our needs.

An activity worth doing:

Taking long walks – or even short ones! As boring and clichéd as it sounds, it’s a fantastic way to restore energy and calm the mind. And it’s a (medically proven) method for improving your overall health.

A podcast worth listening to:

WeCrashed: The Rise and Fall of WeWork is a great mini series that reminds us to never buy into the hype around fast-growing tech startups, even and especially if there are huge sums of investment money involved.

A piece of advice worth passing on:

One of the most important aspects of an enjoyable work life is the people we get to work with. For me, the key is to understand and trust them. Almost everything else follows from there. (Tip: keep a list of people you’d love to work with if the opportunity arises.)


Books & Accessories


Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs and Wear Cows →

The struggle for animal welfare

Social psychologist Melanie Joy’s work in the space of animal welfare led to her coining of the term carnism, “the invisible belief system that conditions us to eat certain animals when we would never dream of eating others”, and a book that’s widely seen as one of the most impactful reads on the path towards a plant-based diet.


Post Growth →

A manifesto for the economies of tomorrow

As I discuss in my intro, the post-growth movement is trying to imagine what a good life looks like once we decouple prosperity from endless economic growth. In his new book, ecological economist Tim Jackson offers “a manifesto for system change and an invitation to rekindle a deeper conversation about the nature of the human condition.”


Overheard on Twitter

Remember back in season one of Covid, when we thought maybe we’d be in this for just five seasons like Breaking Bad, and now it’s like, surprise y’all, this is Grey’s Anatomy.



Food for Thought

What It Means to Design a Space for ‘Care’ →


When we talk about imagining ‘better futures’, the idea of a ‘Department of Care’ is very much part of my utopia wishlist. I love this concept of deeply integrating the notion of ‘care’ into every aspect of designing and maintaining spaces and services. “Once people see it, the need for care is hard to unsee. In an architectural context, care links the labor of cleaning with the design of the surfaces to be cleaned, physical infrastructure with social services for its users, landscape with mental health. Care can be demonstrated through org charts and through organizing, through serving food and setting aside land to grow food, through creating public space and training people to take care of it.”

To Be Happy, Hide From the Spotlight →


YouTube star, Instagram influencer, thoughtleader – for many (young) people, fame is the ultimate career goal. But it’s about as healthy for our inner well-being as sugar is for our teeth. “Seeking out fame is a glitch in the happiness matrix: an urge that promises contentment and delivers the opposite. To defeat it, we need to be aware of our impulses and committed to countering them.” (Possible soft paywall)

Why Tokyo Works →


Another piece on human-centric urban design and the phenomenon that is Tokyo. There are many interesting observations about this city of cities – one of the world’s largest urban developments that seems chaotic from above but on the ground is surprisingly livable, accessible, clean, safe and efficient. “‘This city can be known only by an activity of an ethnographic kind,’ says Barthes in Empire of Signs. ‘You must orient yourself in it not by book, by address, but by walking, by sight, by habit, by experience.’ This is true for anyone who has experienced Tokyo. Places aren’t known by their address, they are known by their proximity to other landmarks which are discovered by experiencing the city itself.”


Aesthetically Pleasing

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I think the branding for Sydney-based Japanese restaurant Dopa succeeds because it feels distinctly Japanese in its restrained, minimal, yet meticulously crafted approach to material and colour.

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This unassuming apartment building is unique and, as far as I know, very difficult to realise in most cities around the world because of zoning and building codes: “This five-story tower, designed for three generations of a Dutch family, is an example of how multigenerational living benefits city dwellers of all ages. Two separate apartments are stacked directly above one another to create a home where the family and their elderly parents can enjoy each other’s company without sacrificing the advantages of privacy.”

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I’m enjoying the whimsical, simple designs of Russian tattoo artist Anechka Satsuro.

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NSW01 is a dense, compact display font with lower and uppercase characters of the same height. Proceeds of the sale go to cancer research!


Did You Know?

‘Corporate Memphis’ is a term that describes the widely used, flat illustration style of many tech websites.

If it seems as if most tech/app websites look the same, it might be because they follow a similar illustration style, often composed of flat human characters in action, with disproportionate body parts such as long and bendy limbs, and minimal facial features. The term Corporate Memphis was coined to describe this style as a way to critcise it for being “generic, overused, and attempting to sanitise public perception by presenting human interaction in utopian optimism”.



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