In an age of synthetic images and synthetic emotions, the chances of an accidental encounter with reality are remote indeed.

– Serge Daney


Featured artist: Arina Kokoreva

Dense Discovery
Dense Discovery

Welcome to Issue 229!

Permalink to this issue

It’s the last ‘shorter’ version of DD, as I’m taking a break from writing my usual intros to focus on spending time with family. The rest of DD stays unaffected.

I also look forward to sharing some of the many photos of my recent travels in my next email update to Friends of DD. I started including more private photos in these emails earlier this year and lots of Friends replied saying how much they enjoyed the personal snapshots.

I’m realising that sharing more intimate updates with this core group of readers is a great way to honour their support – and give meaning to the name ‘Friends of DD’. Instead of paying for more of the same content, like most paid subscriptions, the friction of a relatively small fee ($1.80/month) creates a sub-group of committed readers who get to peel off a layer of privacy and enjoy a more personal connection. – 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.


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Upgrade Your Resilience SPONSOR

Nervous System Mastery →

Apply for the spring cohort

This five-week bootcamp will equip you with evidence-backed protocols to cultivate greater calm and agency over your internal state. You will learn how to rewire maladaptive stress responses, increase your capacity for focus and improve your sleep. Applications close April 3. (Use code DD100 to save $100!)


Apps & Sites

Ready →

Collaborative calendar with notes

Ready (for Google Calendars on Mac) is a new calendar app specifically designed for teams. Each event comes with a shared workspace that can be pre-filled by a template, ready to work on a shared agenda, meeting notes, to-dos and other embeddable media. It’s a bit unclear as to how one can get early access. The sign-up form ends in an ambiguous ‘Be in touch’.

Happy Medium →

A resource for casual artists

What a lovely idea: Happy Medium is a place to learn more about art, find other artists and participate in workshops – all for those who consider themselves ‘casual artists’. “There’s a lot of stuff out there for kids and capital ‘A’ Artists, but there isn’t much for those that fall somewhere in between. We are on a mission to fill the gap.”

Choosy →

Browser picker

Choosy gives you the option to pick a specific browser when opening a new link. You can also set behaviour rules, so that all email address links automatically open Gmail in Safari, for instance.

They Rule →

Visualise boardroom connections

An interactive visualisation tool showing how the board of directors of US America’s biggest companies are connected. “It shows that 87 of the top 100 US companies in 2021 were connected through shared directors on their boards. ... A few companies control much of the economy and oligopolies exert control in nearly every sector of the economy. The people who oversee these companies swap on and off the boards from one company to another, and in and out of government positions. These people run the most powerful institutions on the planet, and we have almost no say in who they are.”


Worthy Five: Jan Chipchase


Five recommendations by founder of Studio D Radiodurans Jan Chipchase

A concept worth understanding:

As more of life is automated, information travels through increasingly opaque layers where the intentions of each layer becomes harder to gauge. The concept of distance to information source has proven useful for understanding distortions that undermine information veracity.

A Twitter account worth following:

If, like me, you are trying to wrap your head around the future impact of the current wave of AI tools, then you’ll likely appreciate the experiments by researcher Linus Lee (don’t miss his website) – solid signals in a sea of noise.

A book worth reading:

How Writing Came About by Denise Schmandt-Besserat takes the reader to preliterate times and the accidental innovations that birthed the first, or one of the first, writing systems.

A question worth asking:

For everything that is shared in the public domain, ask ‘why this?’ and ‘why now?’

An activity worth doing:

Lead an expedition to somewhere remote where you and your team’s life is on the line. It shines the harshest light on who you are, and provides a glimmer of who you might become.

(Did you know? Friends of DD can respond to and engage with guest contributors like Jan Chipchase in one click.)


Books & Accessories


Psych →

A guide to modern psychology

Released just a couple of weeks back, Psych is a compelling, funny and accessible guide on the modern science of psychology and the most intimate aspects of human nature. Author Paul Bloom “reveals what psychology can tell us about the most pressing moral and political issues of our time – including belief in conspiracy theories, the role of genes in explaining human differences, and the nature of prejudice and hatred.”


Deliberate Intervention →

Policy and design to blunt the harms of new tech

When design and tech ethicist Cennydd Bowles recommends a book, I happily add it to my DD book list. From the foreword: Deliberate Intervention brings you to a place of reckoning that questions how technology adds value to our volatile society. It is an invitation to reflect on how social context, culture, and variable time horizons transform the world and how those transformations, activated by technology, can drift to dark places.”


Overheard on Twitter

The future of mobility is not going 0 to 60 in 3 seconds just to have to stop for traffic. The future of mobility is consistently going 20 and never having to stop. 🚲



Food for Thought

How to craft a harmonious life →


All of us have read at least one self-help post on how to achieve the perfect ‘work-life balance’ – a novel idea that presents us with an oversimplified, almost binary attempt at creating a fulfilling life. In this piece, two psychologists provide a more holistic, research-based approach, using six fundamental psychological needs. “The good news is that neither work nor leisure time must satisfy all your psychological needs. Instead, each role in life you have (eg, experienced foreman, loving husband, caring son, dedicated Red Cross volunteer and avid chess player) plays an important part in an orchestra. Coordination of these different roles, and satisfaction of needs via active engagement in these roles, results in what we call ‘life domain harmony’ – the symphony of your life.”

Critical thinking is great, but in a world full of information we need to learn ‘critical ignoring’ →


As the signal-to-noise ratio gets ever more diluted by mis/disinformation (and soon AI-generated fluff), it’ll be increasingly important to learn how we can reclaim some cognitive space. As part of digital literacy training, we could teach ‘critical ignoring’ strategies to help safeguard our attention. “Online, looks can be deceiving. Unless one has extensive background knowledge it is often very difficult to figure out that a site, filled with the trappings of serious research, peddles falsehoods about climate change or vaccinations or any variety of historical topics, such as the Holocaust. Instead of getting entangled in the site’s reports and professional design, fact checkers exercise critical ignoring. They evaluate the site by leaving it and engage in lateral reading instead.”

8 Ways to Read (a Lot) More Books This Year →


I’d love to read more, and so I’m always open to new reading strategies. One of the tips in this piece is something I only started to fully embraced during the pandemic lockdowns: don’t be afraid to break up with a book if it doesn’t spark joy, no matter how little or much you’ve already read. “I quit three or four books for every book I read to the end. I do the ‘first five pages test’ before I buy any book (checking for tone, pace, and language) and then let myself off the hook if I need to stop halfway through.”


Aesthetically Pleasing

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I started following Street Photo International on Instagram some time ago and still enjoy this grab bag of street photos from all around the world.

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The Instagram account Creepmart shares fake (AI-generated) creepy toys. “Welcome to Creep Mart. Open 24/7. Nothing is real. Nothing is for sale.”

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German photographer Roland Kraemer focuses on capturing the intricate textures and patterns of raw natural materials such as stones, sand, ice, water, etc. Prints are available from his shop.

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With roots in early grotesque types, NaN Jaune plays with contrast, very open counters, large ink-traps and simplified structures. “If one typically avoids colliding glyph anatomy then Jaune looks at the problem upside down and sticks together that which normally shouldn’t touch. In a world where physical contact should be avoided, Jaune embraces social non-distancing.”


Notable Numbers


Two four-day workweek pilots resulted in increased revenue, reduced absenteeism and resignations, and improved employee well-being. 15% of employees who participated said that ‘no amount of money’ would convince them to go back to working five days a week.


In an informal survey of over 3500 Brits, 61% of 18–24 year old respondents said they watch movies in their native language with subtitles switched on – twice as many as older age brackets.


Research by the University of Glasgow analysed data from 264,337 participants and concluded that cycling to work is associated with a 45% lower risk of developing cancer and a 46% lower risk of heart disease, compared to a non-active commute. Overall the study found that commuters who cycled were associated with a 41% lower risk of premature death.



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