Human salvation lies in the hands of the creatively maladjusted.

– Martin Luther King, Jr.


Featured artist: Luis Angel

Dense Discovery
Dense Discovery

Welcome to Issue 169!

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This intro was supposed to be a ‘best of’ with my favourite DD issues of the year, but everyone with an email list seems to have had the same idea. So instead of bombarding you with even more links, I decided to do the exact opposite and keep my intro short for this, the last issue of the year.

Reflecting on the fifty emails that went out over the span of a year is always a humbling exercise. The act of writing and curating each issue of DD is not only a ritual that sets the pace of my week, it also creates this weird time capsule of my intellectual and emotional state throughout the year. The DD archive offers a pretty fascinating record of someone trying to process and cope with the messiness and precariousness that defined 2021. Thanks for giving that guy your attention and for helping him – in replies and in spirit – make sense of it all.

You know the drill: log off, get some rest, hug your close ones. DD will be back on January 11th. – Kai


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The Daily Upside →

Colour & clarity on the business stories that matter

A little over ten years ago the Razr flip phone was one of the most popular phones in America. Today, the average American teenager spends about 1.5 hours watching TikTok, per day. It’s clear the trends shaping the investment landscape are moving faster than ever before. The Daily Upside helps break down the news and frame it in a way that is unbiased, insightful, and matters for investors. Simply put, it’s a must read. Sign up for free today.


Apps & Sites

Modern for Wikipedia →

A new look for Wikipedia

This browser extension (Firefox, Chrome, Edge) adds a customisable ‘skin’ to Wikipedia pages, making your visits more enjoyable through lovely new fonts, different colour themes, an autocomplete search feature and more.

JustWatch →

Streaming directory

Ever heard of a new TV show but didn’t know where it was streaming? JustWatch is a directory listing available content from all major streaming platforms. You can also create ‘watchlists’ and receive cross-platform recommendations based on the content you added.

Open Subscription Platforms →

Keeping subscription data open

With subscription/membership platforms popping up all over the place, it’s important to figure out which ones allow you to take your user data with you and which ones keep you locked in. This website provides a simple overview. A great initiative that made me think how nice it’d be to have a comparison site like this for other platforms and apps that collect user data.

Ecoping →

Tracking website carbon emissions

Tools for measuring the environmental impact of the internet are still quite crude, but I’m grateful for sites like Ecoping that draw attention to the issue. Don’t miss the Indexes section to get an idea of the size of carbon emissions of, say, the websites of some S&P500 companies.


Worthy Five: Greg Storey


Five recommendations by designer, investor and coach Greg Storey

A concept worth understanding:

Creating a process in a vacuum will result in failure. If the success of a process requires a connection to a different team or department, then they need to be involved in its development. Also, the co-creation of a process is a fantastic way to inspire innovation.

A book worth reading:

Fifteen years ago, Bruce Mau wrote Massive Change to show how design can be applied to global, contemporary problems with big impact. Fifteen years later, he wrote MC24 to document how anyone can create ‘massive change’ through his twenty-four design principles.

A question worth asking:

‘What do you do?’ I love asking folks what they do and listening to their interpretation of their job or a role they fulfill. It’s very telling how they answer. Over the years I’ve learned a lot about people, businesses and industries by opening a dialogue with that question.

A recipe worth trying:

Marcella Hazan’s tomato sauce with onion and butter. My wife understands food on a chemical level and uses that knowledge like Jasper Johns in the kitchen. We were both befuddled when this deceptively simple sauce (served with fresh-made pasta) turned out to be one of the boldest and flavourful we’ve ever tasted.

A phrase worth knowing:

‘You are not your job search.’ People often celebrate moving onto their next role with fanfare, but few are willing to share the arduous journey. It’s difficult to stay positive when you’re turned down left and right, but you have to believe me that rejection is the normal response for everyone. Don’t buy into the instant success that is all too often shared openly.


Books & Accessories


Laziness Does Not Exist →

How the ‘laziness lie’ is breaking us

The perfect read for the holidays, when most of us get a rare chance to pause and reflect: social psychologist Dr. Devon Price believes that the notion of laziness is a lie, disseminated by those obsessed with and benefiting from productivity. Where others see lazy behaviour, she sees people experiencing (legitimate) barriers. The book “explores the psychological underpinnings of the ‘laziness lie’, including its origins from the Puritans and how it has continued to proliferate as digital work tools have blurred the boundaries between work and life.”


The Rise of Technosocialism →

Imagining a more equitable future

Perhaps a great response to the question I posed in DD166: this book about how technology leads to a unique confluence of changes that could have vast, positive effects on our political, social and economic constructs. “In a world where algorithms and robots take the jobs of immigrants and citizens alike, are border controls an effective response? When the crowd’s mood is measured in influence and exabytes, will real-time democracy render elections a thing of the past?”


Overheard on Twitter

Just quietly pointing out that nobody ever asked ‘how will we pay for’ the $768,000,000,000 defense budget.



Food for Thought

Timeless Wisdom for Leading a Life of Love, Friendship and Learning →


It’s the time of the year when many of us get to think about their achievements of the year past and their hopes for the one to come. This conversation between NYT columnist David Brooks and writer, educator and philosopher Leon Kass offers some excellent provocations, covering all the big topics. “Today, we are supercompetent when it comes to efficiency, utility, speed, convenience, and getting ahead in the world; but we are at a loss concerning what it’s all for. This lack of cultural and moral confidence about what makes a life worth living is perhaps the deepest curse of living in our interesting time.”

The Malevolence of The Metaverse and Web3 Conversation →


Since I don’t have the required patience and interest to write an opinion piece about the metaverse and web3, from now on I’m more than happy to just point to this excellent post by Ed Zitron who sums up my (less informed) thoughts better than I ever could: “By connecting the term ‘metaverse’ with futuristic science fiction, venture capitalists and founders can take something that isn’t really that impressive and claim that it’s part of a new movement that, if it even exists, probably sucks. Web3 is the natural counterpart to this vacuous conversation because it is a direct way in which the capital going into these meaningless terms can seek liquidity under the auspices of giving people ‘value’, and letting them ‘own their data’. ... It’s that simple: you are either being sold a dream so that someone else can profit before it comes true, or you’re being sold something that already exists as if it’s brand new. In any case, someone else is going to get rich as long as you conflate avaricious obsession with something also being valid.”

Singapore’s tech-utopia dream is turning into a surveillance state nightmare →


More fantastic reporting by Rest of World. Singapore is a fascinating place that enjoys an image of being a safe, clean, progressive Asian city-state. This insightful piece shows how Singapore uses invasive new technologies to keep its citizens acquiescent, leaving the reader wondering: is this the digital future that Western countries are headed for? “Ninety-thousand police cameras watch the streets, and by the end of the decade, there will be 200,000. Sensors, including facial recognition cameras and crowd analytics systems, are being positioned across the city. ... These initiatives, usually launched with great fanfare and repeated in uncritical news stories, had the virtue of ensuring that Singapore is routinely associated with the wildest, the most cutting-edge, pilot-stage tech: a kind of search-engine optimization for a nation.”


Aesthetically Pleasing

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Certainly not a ‘humble shack’ anymore: this renovation project transformed a weathered 1970s building into a light-filled, calm, modern home that beautifully connects to its outdoor spaces. Look at these lush plants exploding out of the lightwell!

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I really enjoy these colourful portraits by artist Russ Mills. “Bright bursts of colour, paint splatters, and doodles scrawl across the canvas and surround single figures with a mishmash of markings.” Prints are for sale.

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The designs of tattoo artist Denis Marakhin are recognisable by the clever use of only black and red ink, elegantly combining flat bold sections with dotted gradients.

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Champ is a fun and friendly-looking sans serif typeface with a range of playful alternates – ideal for branding or editorial projects.


Did You Know?

The U.S. is the only country in the world still committed to the imperial system of units.

Measuring in ounces, inches, feet and Fahrenheit is only common in 3 out of all 195 countries in the world: the U.S., Liberia and Myanmar. The latter two have recently committed to transitioning to the metric system (whose official name is the International System of Units). To make things even more confusing, the U.S. uses a slighty different way to measure volumes (the so-called U.S. Customary System), which means the number of ounces in pints, quarts, and gallons differs from those used in the ‘traditional’ imperial system.



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The Week in a GIF


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