There are times when dreams sustain us more than facts.

– Helen Fagin

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Featured artist: Linda Valere

Dense Discovery
Dense Discovery
 

Welcome to Issue 187!

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Especially since starting DD, I consider using Twitter and to a lesser extent Instagram part of my job: despite all the known problems with these platforms, they do help feed my bookmark folders with interesting things I share in this newsletter. And because they play a central role in my media diet, I try to be extra mindful about how (much) I use them.

I generally follow a similar approach to Anil Dash’s digital reset – a regular review of all my accounts. The goal is not to avoid social media, but to make an intentional effort to reduce the time I spend on it and the stress it can cause.

I have made lots of ‘internet friends’ on Twitter over the years and that only works if the signal-to-noise ratio is small enough to recognise familiar faces. I keep my Following count low with a KonMari-style unfollow approach. For privacy and to reduce the chance of tweet regret I use TweetDelete to automatically remove tweets older than six months. To avoid distractions during work, I rarely use social media on my laptop.

While Twitter is mostly full of work or current interest-related content, my Instagram feed is much more focused on real life friends. I often end up adding a few local accounts – favourite cafés or inspiring artists – but I regularly clear them out again. I never understood the appeal of following celebrities or influencers. My Insta feed is mostly photos of friends’ cats, lunches or hikes, and it’s a low-key and (mostly) low-stress way of staying in touch.

I’ve given up on Facebook many years ago, deleted my profile and all related content and instead opened a new skeleton account – no real name, no photos, no friends – just to be able to participate in a couple of local community groups. The news feed is surprisingly calm if you have no connections.

One of my rules as a person running a small ‘online business’ is to not give social media platforms any money, i.e. to not spend on ads. It’s bad enough that I give them with my data, they don’t deserve my money, too.

I’d love to hear from other folks who ‘make a living online’ (for lack of a better job description) as to how they manage their social media use. ‘Delete and forget’ is obviously a valid option but I’m more interested in how to manage it in a sensible and somewhat ethical way. – Kai

 

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Flatfile →

The fastest way to import a spreadsheet

The world’s best companies have a secret when it comes to onboarding their customers. Transform customer, partner, and vendor data from messy and unorganised, to validated in less than 60 seconds.

 

Apps & Sites

Show Me a Movie →

Movie/TV show recommendations

Filed under ‘could have been a web app’, this mobile app makes it easier to find movies and TV shows based on your preferences – across streaming services. The search lets you filter by things like IMDb rating, release year and genre, and supports regional streaming services of over 40 countries.

Chirp →

Cheaper audio books

When I occasionally listen to audio books (usually on long walks), having to sign up to a monthly Audible subscription always feels like a bother. Chirp offers subscription-free audio book sales with regular discount deals. The only caveat is that many deals aren’t available outside the US.

Sunday.fm →

Study/work beats

This website is essentially just a play button for a YouTube video that continuously streams relaxing music which is great for studying or working.

Bogleheads Wiki →

Investment advice

I’m quite conservative when it comes to my money and usually treat the stock market with a fair amount of scepticism, if not outright disdain. So when I come across investment advice online I usually don’t pay much attention, but this popular Bogleheads Wiki seems like a rich resource that can help a lot of people increase their financial literacy. And while I’m no admirer of billionaire investors, I can get behind the community’s philosophy: “Bogleheads emphasise starting early, living below one’s means, regular saving, broad diversification, and sticking to one’s investment plan.”

 

Worthy Five: Jillian Glover

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Five recommendations by urbanist writer and communications specialist Jillian Glover

A concept worth understanding:

The 15-minute city, which implies having all necessary amenities like schools, work, parks and shops within a short walk, bike ride or public transit trip. My writing on the benefits of city life revolves around this concept and how it makes people more connected, healthier, and happier.

An activity worth doing:

Hypnotherapy: I suffered from chronic hip pain for many years until a therapist encouraged me to try hypnotherapy – to train my subconscious to no longer focus on the pain. It was truly life-changing. Accessing our subconscious mind can remake the brain in positive ways.

A book worth reading:

Charles Montgomery’s The Happy City is a must read for those interested in how to plan and design cities that make for happy people. It usually means fewer cars, less sprawl, more green space, and more opportunities for human encounters.

A podcast worth listening to:

I used to hate being scared as a kid, but now I love it and discovered Spooked! Each episode is a thirty-minute, real-life account of someone’s encounter with ‘the supernatural’, complete with spooky music and a great narrator. It’s like sitting around a campfire telling ghost stories.

A quote worth repeating:

Every time I look at successful people I think of this quote by Michelle Obama: “Let yourself really fail once in a while – not some tiny little mistakes here and there, but big, glaring, confidence-shaking, dark-night-of-the-soul-inducing failures. Understand that no one simply coasts from achievement to achievement. The most accomplished people in the world fail and fail big. That’s how they learn so much, grow so quickly, and become so interesting and wise.”

 

Books & Accessories

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The Power of Regret →

A better way to think about regret

All of us have them, few of us like to talk about them. Our culture has developed various regret avoidance tactics. In his new book, author Daniel H. Pink uses the largest sampling of American attitudes about regret ever conducted as well as his own ‘World Regret Survey’ – based on experiences by 15,000 people in 105 countries – “to offer compelling insights into how we live and how we can find a better path forward”.

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The New Walden →

An illustrated hardcover of Walden

Walden is a book about the simple life and reconnecting with nature, written by American transcendentalist Henry David Thoreau in the 1800s. During his time in a cabin near Walden Pond, he mixed scientific and poetic observations about humankind’s place in the natural world. My internet friend Matt Steel is now publishing a newly annotated and illustrated hardcover edition of the classic. Help make it a success and pre-order your own beautiful copy. Friends of DD enjoy a $10 discount. Become a Friend to access specials like this.

 

Overheard on Twitter

DYK the stock market is not required for human life on earth but a narrow temperature range is?

@bethsawin

 

Food for Thought

What the second-happiest people get right →

Read

Striving for only happiness makes for a bland life. It’s the hard times that make us appreciate the good times. “Pursuing happiness to the exclusion of other goals – known as psychological hedonism – is not only an exercise in futility. It may also give you a life that you find you don’t want, one in which you don’t reach your full potential, you’re reluctant to take risks, and you choose fleeting pleasures over challenging experiences that give life meaning.”

There is no such thing as countries →

Read

This piece reminds us that countries are just fictional constructs and that the way we talk about the people and organisations inhabiting and controlling them is important. “‘Russia has invaded Ukraine.’ Countries cannot invade each other. Invasion is an action in pursuit of a goal, and places on a map lack the capacity for either. What is actually going on is that ‘the organisation that rules Russia is challenging the sovereignty of the organisation that rules Ukraine’. This is not ‘just semantics’. The two statements have quite different connotations. If we can’t tell them apart we will end up foolishly blaming things that happen to come from Russia (like university students) or are merely associated with Russia (like vodka brands) for the terrible things now happening in Ukraine. This will fail to do anything about the real cause of the problem: the organisation controlled by Vladimir Putin.”

Ikea’s race for the last of Europe’s old-growth forest →

Read

A great investigative piece on the illegal, violent groups logging the remaining parts of Romania’s old-growth forest to supply the world’s largest furniture maker with cheap timber. “According to a 2018 report, initially suppressed by the Romanian government and leaked later that year, the country saw 38.6 million cubic meters of wood exit its forests annually during the preceding four-year period; the government had licensed just 18.5 million cubic meters. In other words, without even accounting for possible violations based on method of extraction, more than half of the country’s timber is illegally harvested. ... Since roughly the date of Romania’s accession to the EU, between half and two-thirds of the country’s virgin forest has been lost.”

 

Aesthetically Pleasing

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Taiwanese artist Will Yu manages to capture the full range of human expression in fascinating detail with oil on canvas.

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The 2010 explosion of BP’s Deepwater Horizon sent 210 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, causing 68,000 square miles of black tide. Photographer Daniel Beltrá captured one of the most destructive environmental disasters in human history in all its devastating beauty.

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I love the look of this rebuild and two-storey extension of an Edwardian home here in Melbourne, making use of the north-facing yard by inviting lots of light into the living and dining room. That banquette seat is just wonderful!

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Avory is an expressive, gently condensed sans typeface. Features like the low optical center and wide horizontal crossbars give it an unmistakable appearance.

 

Notable Numbers

200,000

Drone delivery company Zipline serves over 21 Rwandan hospitals with blood, medication and vaccine deliveries, reducing delivery time from four hours by road to 20 minutes. Zipline recently celebrated its fifth anniversary by reaching 200,000 commercial deliveries, serving 75% of the blood needs outside Kigali, Rwanda’s capital.

400,000

If US Americans would choose active transport instead of private cars for only 50% of short trips (a mile or less), they’d collectively save about $575m in fuel costs and about 2m tons of CO2 per year. That’s like taking about 400,000 cars off the road each year.

925

An alliance of big Silicon Valley companies (including Google, Meta, Shopify and Stripe) announced the purchase of $925 million worth of permanent carbon removal from companies that are developing the technology over the next nine years. Some call the technology a red herring.

 

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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.