Everything that needs to be said has already been said. But since no one was listening, everything must be said again.

– André Gide


Featured artist: Oksana Drachkovska

Dense Discovery
Dense Discovery

Welcome to Issue 189!

View/share online

Australia got a new government over the weekend and I could not be happier seeing the old fossil fools booted out. I’m cautiously optimistic that the new government will display a stronger moral compass when it comes to climate, equality, integrity and a whole range of other urgent issues. That said, the bar could hardly be any lower. Especially in regards to climate, Australia is competing with the likes of Russia and Saudi Arabia at the top of the ‘exported emissions’ ladder.

This has only been my second federal election and so I thought I would share a couple of unique features of the Australian electoral system that I find particularly interesting as a relatively new citizen.

In Australia voting is compulsory and there is a A$20 fine if you don’t. Whether compulsory voting leads to a more engaged citizenry is up for debate but it sure makes people show up: voter turnout in Australia is among the highest in the world with around 93% on average in recent elections. (For comparison, in Germany it’s around 75% and in the US around 58%.)

Australia’s federal government is elected through a ‘preferential voting system’ which means you rank all available candidates on your ballot paper according to your personal preference. If no candidate gets an absolute majority (more than 50% of all votes), the candidate with the least amount of votes is eliminated and the second preference of those ballots are distributed to the remaining candidates. This continues until someone reaches an absolute majority. Here’s a short explainer.

What’s so great about preferential voting is that you can put smaller parties or independents (less likely to win) first and larger parties (more likely to win) further down your ballot without ‘wasting’ your vote. In other words, you can vote for who represents you best but pass your vote to another candidate in case your first preference doesn’t get enough support. It’s a fantastic way to vote and, in my view, more countries should make use of this system.

Less a unique feature, but worth highlighting: I find Australia does a great job in making voting easy – easy to understand, to enrol and to participate. Once enrolled, you can vote early or on election day, by mail or in person or – if you’re vision-impaired or in COVID isolation – even by phone.

And since I’d be exiled for not mentioning it: yes, the democracy sausage is also an integral part of Australian elections. Although that’s perhaps the one feature where I think other countries, *German clears throat*, have a leg up. (Vegan options are available too, of course. As I said, it’s a preferential system.) – Kai


Become a Friend of DD →

With a modest yearly contribution you’re not only helping keep Dense Discovery going, you also receive special discounts and get access to the DD Index, a searchable catalogue of past issues.


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


Ecommerce for Creative Brands SPONSOR


Swell →

The power of custom, without the headache

Build beautiful ecommerce experiences without the fuss. With native subscription functionality, custom data models, built-in upsells and cross-sells, and an infinitely flexible API the only limit on Swell is your imagination.


Apps & Sites

ProjectionLab →

Model your financial future

I’ve previously written about the power of budgeting and getting a better grasp on your financial outlook. Well, ProjectionLab is possibly the most powerful tool yet for creating future projections based on historical financial data. It’s quite geeky and a bit technical at times, but if you have the will and time to put in a lot of personal info, this tool will give you a very detailed breakdown of your financial future.

Reveri →

Self-hypnosis app

Besides meditation, hypnotherapy is a growing category of self-treatment apps that promises relief from stress, anxiety, insomnia, even pain perception. Reveri is one of those apps, offering short, podcast-like hypnotherapy sessions to help you sleep and feel more at ease. If you have experimented with Reveri or similar apps, leave a comment. I’m curious.

Women in Type →

Women’s contribution to type design

What a marvelous little project that highlights the important work by the many ‘unseen’ women in the type industry. “Design histories have largely overlooked the activities of those who contributed to the production of typefaces throughout the industrial era. It is frequently assumed that typefaces are the work of a single designer whereas, as most industrial objects, they result from a series of processes involving multiple skills often carried out by numerous people.”

Minus →

A finite social network

An interesting little experiment in scarcity: minimal-looking Minus is a simplified Twitter where you get to express yourself in exactly 100 posts – for the life of your account.


Worthy Five: Rachael Dietkus


Five recommendations by mum and trauma-responsive social worker-designer Rachael Dietkus

A quote worth repeating:

I often come back to this quote from Brené Brown: “Integrity is choosing courage over comfort; choosing what is right over what is fun, fast, or easy; and choosing to practice our values rather than simply profess them.”

A concept worth understanding:

How can we understand neurons? Drawing Neurons from Sound and Music in Real-Time by Victor Saenger shows us their simple visual complexity when matched with music.

A book worth reading:

The Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Elements by Lisa Congdon: it’s hard to believe that this is a children’s book! Beautifully illustrated and written for kids of all ages.

A video worth watching:

This video of Fred Rogers (of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood) testifying before a Senate Committee in 1969 is a reminder of how “our feelings can be and are mentionable and manageable”.

A phrase worth knowing:

Positive deviance: a strengths-based approach to change where people whose uncommon (yet successful) strategies enable them to find solutions to a problem, despite often facing challenges and having no extra resources.


Books & Accessories


The Intersectional Environmentalist →

Dismantling systems of oppression for people & planet

If there is a book that can sum up the most important, interconnected challenges of our time, it may be this one: The Intersectional Environmentalist examines the inextricable link between environmentalism, racism, and privilege, and promotes awareness of the fundamental truth that we cannot save the planet without uplifting the voices of its people – especially those most often unheard.”


Nobody →

People and their stories

Nobody is a new biannual print magazine about people and the stories, places, and things they carry. This new Berlin-based indie publication publishes longform writing, photo series, illustrated memoir, and other experiments in voice about “the lives of strangers and the everyday experiences that teach us about ourselves”. Friends of DD enjoy a 15% discount. Become a Friend to access specials like this.


Overheard on Twitter

I always thought burnout happened when you work too much. Now I get it. It’s investing emotionally and then not getting a return on that investment.



Food for Thought

Trends are dead →


An excellent piece on the meaninglessness of the many vapid online trends that relentlessly flood social media and encourage fast consumerism. “Trend brain encourages us to simplify everything online into something either buyable, understandable, or moral – and therefore worthy of consumption. ... Anything that’s vaguely popular online must be defined or decoded – and ultimately, reduced to a bundle of marketable vibes with a kitschy label. ... The distinction doesn’t seem to matter, since TikTok – and the consumer market – demands novelty. It creates ripe conditions for a garbage-filled hellscape where everything and anything has the potential to be a trend.”

Resilience, Abundance, Decentralization →


Deb Chachra’s ruminations are pretty much always worth your time: in this peace she give us an overview of our energy history and our very different energy future, showing us what we gain by getting there as quickly as possible. “We finally have the tools we need to create something new and better – to transform our technological and infrastructural systems into ones that are resilient and sustainable, that open up new possibilities for how we can use and repurpose materials, and that, not incidentally, have the affordances to scaffold a more just, equitable society. We are living at the cusp of remaking ourselves from a primitive species that gets most of our energy from literally setting stuff on fire, and that just junks stuff when we’re done with it, into an species that fits harmoniously into a planetwide ecosystem, that uses energy from the sun, harnesses it for use and to fabricate what we need to thrive, and then returns those materials to the common pool to be used and shared again.”

The game is rigged: rethinking the creator economy →


A sensible piece on how to make the so-called ‘creator economy’ more sustainable. It includes some interesting results from a substantial survey of people who make a living producing things online. This was a particular eyebrow-raising nugget: “The first thing they discovered in the research was something both Gina and I were already familiar with: the grueling hamster wheel of content creation and the impact it can have on creators’ lives. This number might be hard to believe, but 93% of creators surveyed said that being a creator has negatively impacted their lives.”


Aesthetically Pleasing

❏ ❏

Born in the far eastern Russian republic of Yakutia, photographer Alexander Khimushin made it his mission to capture portraits of Indigenous and other ethnic groups to put the world’s diversity on display. Alexander seems to not have an up-to-date website, just this PDF with a collection of his amazing work.

❏ ❏

What looks like a render from a marketing brochure is an actual building located in the inner suburbs of Melbourne. It’s pretty obvious where the Grass House got its name from. A recent renovation of the interior resolved some poor design and building decisions by the previous architects, giving this whacky, 45-square-metre home a new lease on life.

❏ ❏

Speaking of renders: if you’re into 3D render art, Stockholm-based design studio Studio Brasch produces some lovely work involving natural textures and abstract sculptures.

❏ ❏

The most popular font on Google Fonts is now a variable font with a lot of flexibility: Roboto Flex offers “a huge range of weights and widths across optical sizes, plus additional capabilities for fine-tuning”.


Notable Numbers


Big Tech holds records amount of cash, ready to aquire competitors: at the end of 2021, Apple held $190.5 billion in cash, Google/Alphabet $142 billion, Microsoft $130.6 billion, Amazon $79 billion, and Facebook/Meta $58.1 billion.


In a major study of young people aged 16 to 25 published last year, 75% said the ‘future is frightening’ and more than half said ‘humanity is doomed’. 45% of the 10,000 respondents across 10 countries said their feelings about climate change negatively affected their ability to function in daily life.


A cycling-related survey in Germany shows that awareness of cargo bikes has risen from 38% in 2017 to 63% in 2021. 2% of the population in Germany now use a cargo bike in their lives – that’s 1.2 million individuals.



Creative Companion is a weekly newsletter that teaches you the business of becoming a professional creator.

Increase your conversion by up to 40% by automating your customer onboarding, engagement and reactivation messaging.

Take the Mini Design MBA and learn business skills relevant for designers with the free 7-day email course.

The Story is a magazine about the art, craft and science of storytelling. Learn how to tell your story more effectively, and read up on the stories that shape the world around us.

Classifieds are paid ads that support DD and are seen by our 43,000 subscribers each week.

Book yours →


The Week in a GIF


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