One should always be curious. Not a passive curiosity dependent upon information received, but an aggressive curiosity that compels one to seek things out and ascertain them for oneself.

– Issey Miyake


Featured artist: Sel Thomson

Dense Discovery
Dense Discovery

Welcome to Issue 231!

Permalink to this issue

The piece ‘Advertising folk, it’s time to rethink what we’re selling’ makes a case for the advertising world to redefine ‘the good life’ – calling for the industry to shift away from encouraging consumption towards promoting connection.

Quoting their own UK-focused research, the authors highlight three consistent threads contained in the responses to a survey about what a good life in the near future would look like:

“What they’ve told us, loud and clear, is nothing matters more than feeling connected. …

People are yearning to be more connected to themselves: to step out of the rat race towards a slower pace of life, with less precarity, and greater opportunities for self-sufficiency.

People are dreaming of being more connected to others, too. They want to strengthen and protect family relationships, build more nurturing support systems, and share routines and rituals with others.

And finally, people are dreaming of being more deeply connected to nature. They talk about wanting to be more embedded in the natural world, to live more resourcefully, and help protect and conserve nature.”

That humans long for connection (and not materialism) is nothing new. It’s nice, though, to see it acknowledged by some voices in advertising.

It’s also a hopeful reminder that despite all the news about polarisation and conflict, and at a time when traditional support systems are crumbling, we do – perhaps more than ever – share a very strong desire to connect with our human and nonhuman coinhabitants of this planet. How to cultivate and actualise it should serve as a moral north star for all of us, not just people in advertising. – Kai


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Apps & Sites

Monkeytype →

Typing speed test

It’s fun to test how good your typing skills are with this web app. Features include many different test modes, user accounts to save your typing speed history, and configurable features such as themes, sounds, a smooth caret, and more.

Balance →

Mindful time tracking

This lovely-looking macOS app combines manual time tracking with regular break reminders and a built-in Pomodoro-style focus timer.

Stippl →

Travel planner app

Judging purely by the feature list and screenshots on their website, the oddly named mobile app Stippl (iOS & Android) looks like a fantastic tool for trip planning. It includes a handy itinerary and budget planner, a mapping tool, and collaborative options to share your plans with others.

Free Learning List →

Educational resources

An expansive list of educational resources from all around the web, including YouTube channels, podcasts, blogs, online courses, coding schools, and books.


Worthy Five: Meredith Hattam


Five recommendations by interdisciplinary designer and illustrator Meredith Hattam

A concept worth understanding:

Internal Family Systems is probably the most game-changing thing I learned in therapy over the past few years. The concept sounds kind of cheesy, but it truly works: just like the movie Inside Out, different parts inside of us work in different ways (an internal ‘family’, if you will). With IFS, you visualise yourself in conversation with these parts and empathise with them, even if they’re parts of yourself that are shameful or scary. It’s been amazing for self-compassion and personal growth.

An Instagram account worth following:

I still don’t know how I feel about AI-generated art (do any of us?) but Charlie Engman is doing utterly incredible work that feels weird and original. I’ve never seen anything like it.

A book worth reading:

bell hooks’ All About Love: New Visions should be required reading for understanding not only romantic relationships, but how the patriarchy hurts all aspects of modern life. I’ve recommended it to all of my friends when they’re struggling to communicate emotion and empathise in a complicated world.

A podcast worth listening to:

Nicole Byer’s Why Won’t You Date Me is the funniest (NSFW) podcast I know. You might know Nicole as a judge on Drag Race and the host of Nailed It! The podcast started a few years back as a way for her to interview exes about why they wouldn’t date her and has since evolved into hilarious and insightful interviews with creatives about love and dating.

A piece of advice worth passing on:

How you make people feel – especially at work, where we all spend so much time – is more motivating and more important than any actual work you’ll produce. It sounds obvious, but a supportive and psychologically safe environment will also motivate everyone’s best work.

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


Books & Accessories


The Creative Act →

A guide to creative expression

Written by legendary music producer Rick Rubin, this is a book that speaks to the hidden artist in all of us. “Over the years, as he has thought deeply about where creativity comes from and where it doesn’t, he has learned that being an artist isn’t about your specific output, it’s about your relationship to the world. Creativity has a place in everyone’s life, and everyone can make that place larger. In fact, there are few more important responsibilities.” Rubin himself said that he “set out to write a book about what to do to make a great work of art. Instead, it revealed itself to be a book on how to be”.


Chatter →

How to wield your inner voice

A recommendation by a DD reader: a book about that inner voice we all carry around with us that is sometimes encouraging, sometimes unhelpful, and often self-critical. “Brilliantly argued, expertly researched, and filled with compelling stories, Chatter gives us the power to change the most important conversation we have each day: the one we have with ourselves.”


Overheard on Twitter

You know you’re living in an age of excess when it costs more to get rid of stuff than to buy it.



Food for Thought

‘The visuals of today help create the reality of tomorrow:’ Why Hollywood is finally tackling climate change onscreen →


There is some evidence suggesting that movies and TV shows can influence common opinion on societal issues – more queer representation leading to more support for marriage equality or popularising the idea of a ‘designated driver’ leading to a decrease in drunk driving, for instance. If this is the case, what can Hollywood do to keep the climate crisis top of mind and encourage more engagement? “Climate change isn’t a problem that can be solved by a lone hero taking drastic action over the course of one monumental day, argues Fortenberry. ‘Climate change is an ongoing, unfolding process that will be with us the rest of our lives. How do we make something that conveys that this is a lifelong process?’ she asks. ‘What does it look like when people try to grapple with something as a community, and it’s not just one person fighting bad guys by themself?’”

Advertising folk, it’s time to rethink what we’re selling →


With so many planetary boundaries being exceeded, can the advertising industry help redefine the notion of ‘a good life’ and shift from encourage consumption to encouraging connection? “We’ve been working with this audience to unearth not their opinions, but their visions of the future. With carefully crafted exercises, we’ve asked them to imagine their good life in 2030 – a timeframe that’s far enough to allow for some creative leaps, but close enough to allow for detail. ... What they’ve told us, loud and clear, is nothing matters more than feeling connected. ... The best thing is, living in a way that’s more connected has all kinds of benefits for human and planetary well-being – not least, a reduction in resource use and emissions. Turns out that if you connect more, your appetite for consuming stuff just isn’t there.”

This Changes Everything →


Ezra Klein offers an opinion on the AI race that aligns well with my own, very mixed feelings: the powerful display of early AI capabilities is fascinating and exciting, but also mystifying and scary. What can be done to better grasp the different paths ahead of us? “I’ve come to believe the apt metaphors lurk in fantasy novels and occult texts. As my colleague Ross Douthat wrote, this is an act of summoning. The coders casting these spells have no idea what will stumble through the portal. What is oddest, in my conversations with them, is that they speak of this freely. These are not naifs who believe their call can be heard only by angels. They believe they might summon demons. They are calling anyway.” (Possible soft paywall)


Aesthetically Pleasing

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In his photo series Windscreen, Phil Jung explores what the inside of a car can tell us about our social landscape. “A car’s interior defines the line between public and private space. While peering into these spaces I wonder if the interior, often littered with personal articles, can describe the way language, religion, economy, government and other cultural phenomena play a role in the owner’s life.” The series is available as a hardcover photo book. (via)

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London artist Josh Gluckstein creates wildlife sculptures from recycled cardboard and other discarded materials, raising awareness of the vast amount of waste polluting oceans and beaches around the world. (via)

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I’m really digging the aesthetics by Chinese graphic and poster artist Chen Jun Xian

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Ohno Casual is a fun, single-stroke oddball of a typeface with its origin in the sign painting tradition.


Notable Numbers


Academics used to have free access to Twitter’s API to conduct research and try to understand online behaviour. Twitter announced it will cancel free academic access, introducing paid tiers with the cheapest plan costing $42,000 per month.


The German bicycle market quadrupled in a decade to be worth around €7 billion, with electric bikes now holding a 48% share.


One of the striking features of the World Happiness Report 2022 was the globe-spanning surge of benevolence in 2020 and especially 2021. Data for 2022 show that prosocial acts are still about 25% more frequent than before the pandemic.



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