The system of nature, of which man is a part, tends to be self-balancing, self-adjusting, self-cleansing. Not so with technology.

– E. F. Schumacher


Featured illustrator: Min Kyung

Dense Discovery
Dense Discovery

Welcome to Issue 59!

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‘Human-Centred Design’ is very en vogue these days. Especially in the digital space, we have broadly embraced this approach which involves the (user’s) human perspective in all steps of the design process.

There is a growing chorus of people that criticises the human-centred design approach for being somewhat misguided. As Erica Hall argued in Offscreen Issue 18, the notion of ‘fulfilling human needs’ tells us little about whether we should fulfil those needs in the first place. Could designing more enjoyable slot machines in Casinos still be considered human-centred design? How about a more alluring shopping experience?

In our upcoming issue 22 (subscribe here) we’re taking this discussion one step further. One interviewee makes a case for what she calls ‘more-than-human-centred design’. From one of her previous talks:

“In a broader context, what if we deny that humans are exceptional? What if we stop speaking and listening only to ourselves? I would like to move beyond the human need and think of a bigger picture. Consider the idea of a more-than-human-centred approach where human beings are not at the centre of the universe and are not at the centre of everything – where we consider ourselves as deeply entangled in [and reliant on] relationships with other species, both human and nonhuman.”

What an exciting new way of looking at design! How can we use design in a way that is respectful not just to humans, but to the communities we are a part of, the relationships we share with others, and the environment we live in? – Kai

Dense Discovery is currently read by over 36,000 subscribers. Support us by (1) Sponsoring an issue, (2) Booking a classified ad, or (3) Sharing this issue with friends and colleagues.


The Visual Workspace SPONSOR


Whimsical →

The fast & beautiful visual collaboration tool

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Apps & Sites

Simple Analytics →

Privacy-friendly web analytics

A basic web analytics tool that puts your privacy first: no cookies or personal data is collected, so no GDPR banner is necessary. Their servers are based in Iceland and all data is fully encrypted.

Tray →

Automation builder

Similar to Zapier, allows you to connect hundreds of web apps and file formats to automate multi-step processes. (I use Zaps to automate DD’s sponsor/ad booking system.)

Loom →

Shareable screencast videos

“With Loom, you can capture your screen, record your front-facing camera, and narrate your video all at once – no switching apps or upload required.” You get a shareable URL to pass on to your team or client.

Up Next →

Calendar preview

This tiny MacOS app always shows your upcoming event/appointment in the menu bar. Click to see all upcoming events for the day.


Indie Mag of the Week


She Shoots Film →

She Shoots Film is an independent publication that encourages, supports and draws attention to emerging and seasoned film photographers that make with a woman’s eye.

– Latest Issue: 3
– Frequency: 2 issues/year
– Formats: print only
– Origin: Australia

We’re giving away five copies to randomly selected DD readers. Keep an eye on your inbox to find out if you’re among them!




TRIWA X Humanium Metal 2.0 →

Watches made from illegal firearms

An updated range of the celebrated TRIWA watches is currently on Kickstarter: “Meet the watch made from the world’s most valuable metal: Humanium Metal – forged from destructed illegal firearms to stand for change, not status.” (If you’re a bit confused by the many different models on offer you’re not alone.🤔)


Invisible Women →

Exposing Data Bias in a World Designed for Men

“A powerful, important and eye-opening analysis of the gender politics of knowledge and ignorance. With examples from technology to natural disasters, this is an original and timely reminder of why we need women in the leadership of the institutions that shape every aspect of our lives.”


Overheard on Twitter

I keep having the conversation that it’s often hard for people to imagine creating things on the web that *aren’t* trying to be a startup. Folks have forgotten that we can create just to create, same as most folks write in a journal aren’t trying to be bestselling authors.



Food For Thought

Facing the Great Reckoning Head-On →


Wow. So much to quote from this impassioned call to action by tech research pioneer danah boyd: “I am here today in-no-small-part because I benefited from the generosity of men who tolerated and, in effect, enabled unethical, immoral, and criminal men. (...) In a healthy society, we strategically design to increase social cohesion because binaries are machine logic not human logic. (...) The goal shouldn’t be to avoid being evil; it should be to actively do good.”

The biggest lie tech people tell themselves – and the rest of us →


I think we all heard people in tech make this argument before, trying to justify their ethically questionable inventions: ‘You can’t stop progress. Technology will take over either way. It’s the natural evolution of things.’ This article calls out their bullshit. There is no natural evolution of technology. It’s all on us.

What does ‘living fully’ mean? Welcome to the age of pseudo-profound nonsense →


“Social media seems to define ‘living fully’ as being adventurous, spontaneous and extroverted. For people who are fulfilled by a quieter life, social media seems to tell them that they’re living life the wrong way. (...) The most significant difference between the spread of inspirational quotes and the spread of fake news is that quotes generally make users feel good, while fake news provokes anger or fear. ‘In either case, emotionality overrides rationality,’ he says.”


Aesthetically Pleasing

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I’m really enjoying the brand of the City of Pannonhalma. “The shape of the logo and the main typography were inspired by the hills of the city.”

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Spenser Little creates playful outdoor sculptures by bending wires.

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Room 205 is a bold, expressive font in the neoclassical tradition.

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I can’t get enough of this Instagram account: Abstract Aerial Art photographs “bizarre aerial images from around the world”.



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The Week in a GIF


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