I imagine one of the reasons people cling to their hates so stubbornly is because they sense, once hate is gone, they will be forced to deal with pain.

– James Baldwin


Featured artist: Alexandra Dzhiganskaya

Dense Discovery
Dense Discovery

Welcome to Issue 192!

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I’m currently planning a long-delayed trip to see friends and family in Germany later this year. In a conversation with my brother to coordinate and maximise our time together, he mentioned that his work offers him the option to ‘buy more free time’: he can get additional annual leave by sacrificing a certain amount of his pay.

When he first said that, it sounded weird or even bleak to me. It starkly quantifies life outside of work through a specific number and quite literally puts a price on seeing me: Want to spend more time with your brother? It’ll cost you x per day!

On further reflection it seems less weird. Almost all work is essentially a trade of time for money. My income now is lower than what it used to be because I intentionally traded income for more free time. The cost of ‘a day off’ is just a little harder to quantify because I’m self-employed.

In his piece on the religion of workism, Derek Thompson reminds us that “...work is not life’s product, but its currency. What we choose to buy with it is the ultimate project of living.”

I begrudgingly use the language of capitalism to justify or even describe life outside of work, but if there’s ever been a thing worth investing in, it probably is extra time with the ones we love. – Kai


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Apps & Sites

Shepherd →

Book discovery

Shepherd is a curated book discovery tool based on author recommendations: “We ask authors to share their favorite books around topics and themes they are passionate about and why they recommend each book.” I love how specific some of the recommendations are: ‘The best woman-led horror novels’ or ‘The best books to savour the history of Paris’.

Folk →

Collaborative CRM

If you work in a small–medium business and find it difficult to keep your contacts (clients, contractors, collaborators, etc.) organised, Folk might be the app for you. It syncs across address books, allows different views and filters, and includes custom messaging, reminders and more. Friends of DD enjoy three months Pro for free. Become a Friend to access specials like this.

Skratch →

Travel maps & companion

Skratch is a mobile app for recording your past, current and future travel plans. You can create bucket lists with your favourite itineraries and automatically attach photos from your phone to the locations on the map.

Electricity Map →

Global carbon intensity

This (very incomplete) map of the world shows the carbon intensity of electricity generation and consumption in different countries and regions. If you click on a country, you can see a breakdown by source.


Worthy Five: Jessica Marati Radparvar


Five recommendations by entrepreneur and social impact strategist Jessica Marati Radparvar

A phrase worth knowing:

I am from Guam, a small US island territory located in Micronesia. One of the central concepts of our Chamoru culture is inafa’maolek – the idea that we are interdependent on one another and on nature, so we need to cooperate in order to make life good for everyone. I can’t think of a better value for the world to embrace right now.

A quote worth repeating:

In the early days of the pandemic, I was really impacted by this Instagram post from author and activist Sonya Renee Taylor: “We will not go back to normal. Normal never was. Our pre-corona existence was never normal other than we normalized greed, inequity, exhaustion, depletion, extraction, disconnection, confusion, rage, hoarding, hate and lack. We should not long to return, my friends. We are being given the opportunity to stitch a new garment. One that fits all of humanity and nature.”

A podcast worth listening to:

I’ve been eating up the Free Time podcast by Jenny Blake and love her approach to building heart-centered businesses that allow space for ideas to flourish. As a recovering overachiever, I’ve realised that – just like unfettered capitalism is no longer sustainable for the planet – hustle-focused overwork is no longer sustainable for me.

A concept worth understanding:

I love Kate Raworth’s Doughnut Economics, an economic framework that has a strong social justice foundation at its core and planetary boundaries as its outer ring. The space between is the ‘doughnut’ – a place where people and planet can thrive. My adopted home of Amsterdam was the first major city to embrace the doughnut as its model for economic development, which has given me a front-row seat to what the theory looks like in practice.

An activity worth doing:

At the end of each year, my husband Dave and I set aside time to reflect on how we’re doing on the dimensions of mind, body, soul, work, play and love. This annual reflection practice has been an amazing way to check in with ourselves and with one another to make sure we’re living in alignment with our values and vision of what life could look like.


Books & Accessories


The Secret to Superhuman Strength →

About exercise and fitness fads

This book was recommended to me by an ‘exercise addict’ friend who told me it’s one of the funniest and best things he’s read all of last year: an easy-to-read graphic memoir of the author Alison Bechdel’s lifelong love affair with exercise. “The more Bechdel tries to improve herself, the more her self appears to be the thing in her way. ... This gifted artist and not-getting-any-younger exerciser comes to a soulful conclusion. The secret to superhuman strength lies not in six-pack abs, but in something much less clearly defined: facing her own non-transcendent but all-important interdependence with others.”


Everyday Information Architecture →

How to organise web content

I almost missed this A Book Apart title until I saw this tweet posting an excerpt of the book’s truly remarkable opening chapter. “Lisa Maria Marquis shows you how to leverage the principles and practices of information architecture in order to craft more thoughtful and effective digital spaces. Learn how to analyze your site’s content and structure, build clear and consistent taxonomies, and develop more strategic sitemaps.”


Overheard on Twitter

Regret is a sign of progress. If you look back at your past self and see a fool, congratulations: you’ve grown.



Food for Thought

How you attach to people may explain a lot about your inner life →


A really insightful piece that explores our current understanding of attachment theory and how people who lacked an empathetic primary caregivers in their infancy can benefit from therapy. “Two people sit in a room and talk, every week, for a set amount of time, and at some point one of them walks out the door a different person, no longer beleaguered by pain, crippled by fear or crushed by despair. Why? How?” It includes some fascinating new research showing how effective caring psychotherapists can be. “Research into the traits of effective therapists has revealed that their greater experience with or a stricter adherence to a specific approach do not lead to improved outcomes whereas empathy, warmth, hopefulness and emotional expressiveness do.” It reaffirms the theory that so much in our emotional lives comes down to how and how much we were loved as a child, but also that therapy can be really effective in accepting and overcoming some shortcomings.

Speech by Dr Gabor Maté →


Hungarian-Canadian psychologist, physician and author Dr Gabor Maté with a great speech about the health impacts of our system of materialism, consumption and competition, highlighting how far we’ve strayed from our ‘true nature’. He borrowed from Karl Marx’ four types of alienation that our culture brings about: alienation from nature, from other people, from the work we do, and – eventually – from ourselves.

Influencer culture is everywhere – even in academia →


The rise of influencer culture is in part a response to the precarity of the current moment and reflects general labour insecurity and the gig-ification of many jobs. The result is an incessant push to be visible, a notion that is becoming more apparent in every industry. “Given the state of the conventional labor market in my students' lifetimes, it's no small wonder that these so-called Gen Zers find the bootstrapping career of a YouTuber or live-streamer much more appealing than a proverbial 9-to-5. The lure is less about unadulterated fame than we give them credit for. More often, they desire the autonomy and flexibility that a self-enterprising career promises – if only superficially.”


Aesthetically Pleasing

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Matt Burgess is an Australian ocean photographer that captures the many ways “light plays on the waves in magical ways”. Prints are available from his website.

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Photographer Roman Robroek captures the decaying and ever-changing urban/built environment in a beautiful, almost mythical way. Don’t miss his photo book Oblivion: “Decay, where once was luxury. Stillness in places that were bursting with life. Powerful reminders of changing tides and changing times.”

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There is a dedicated (albeit inactive) Reddit channel called Cutawayp0rn with tons of illustrations that show the inner workings of things. I had an intense flashback of early school books! (via)

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MD System is a typeface for general practice: a workhorse grotesque, combining a rational family layout with an appearance that embraces the human hand.” Who doesn’t like a good workhorse?!


Notable Numbers


People who drank moderate amounts of coffee – 1.5 to 3.5 cups per day – were up to 30% less likely to die during a multiple year study period than those who didn’t drink coffee.


A 2012 study of 20,000 Danish kids aged between 5 and 19 concluded that kids who transported themselves (cycled or walked) to school performed better on tasks that required concentration, such as solving puzzles, with the effects lasting for up to 4 hours after they arrived.


A study of over 400 US-based social media ‘influencers’ found that the pay gap between white influencers and influencers who are Black, Indigenous or other people of colour is 29 percent. When the research focused specifically on white and Black influencers, the margin widened to 35 percent.



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