Money is like gasoline during a road trip. You don’t want to run out of gas on your trip, but you’re not doing a tour of gas stations.

– Tim O’Reilly


Featured illustrator: Sandro Rybak

Dense Discovery
Dense Discovery

Welcome to Issue 62!

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I’ve long been an advocate for Kevin Kelly’s 1000 True Fans concept – the idea that, thanks to the internet, you no longer need a massive audience in order to make a living from your creative work; you ‘just’ need the financial support of 1000 truly passionate fans to create a sustainable livelihood. You can see this theory at work with Offscreen. While there are many occasional readers, ‘only’ around 1200 loyal subscribers buy every issue as soon as it’s released.

I love the idea of 1000 True Fans because it’s such an achievable, human-scale target. It’s the difference between having to fill a small theatre versus having to fill a giant stadium. Author Srinivas Rao summarises my thoughts perfectly in his article (see the Food for Thought section below):

“One person who reads everything you do, who buys every book you write, and spends the precious currency of their attention on your work from the day you start is more valuable than a million people who show up because of something that went viral and never come back.”

“With such a scarcity of attention, the only viable strategy to build an audience for your work is to focus on mastery instead of metrics. (...) Media for the masses is a commodity, while media that serves the smallest viable audience is not.”

The smallest viable audience – what a beautiful, humble alternative to the metrics-obsessed default of our time. – Kai

Dense Discovery is read by enough subscribers to keep us going. You can support us by (1) Sponsoring an issue, (2) Booking a classified ad, or (3) Sharing this issue with friends.


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Apps & Sites

Tripsy →

Travel organiser

This iOS app is “a trip planner that lets you share your itinerary with family and friends, receive flight alerts, store documents, and also has suggestions of itineraries to some cities around the world.” It’s a neat idea – I often get lost in my many notes, emails, and reminders.

Readymag →

Simple website builder

We all have friends whose business or side project could do with a simple website. I’m adding Readymag – a browser-based web design tool – to my list of recommended, no-frills website builders.

Trashmail →

Disposable email addresses

A fitting name for a service that offers disposable email addresses you can set up to forward incoming mail to your existing inbox. Simply set a time limit by which the email address ceases to function.

Flock →

Team collaboration

Flock looks like another Slack alternative with a suite of additional tools, such as video calls and screen sharing, shared to-dos, polls, reminders, and more.


Indie Mag of the Week


Eye on Design →

Every issue of Eye on Design magazine explores a new theme that highlights the unexpected intersections of design and the wider world.

– Latest Issue: 6
– Frequency: 3 issues/year
– Formats: print & digital
– Origin: USA

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!




Spooly Cable →

No untangling USB cable

This flat cable spools around a USB plug and secures itself with a magnet using powdered barium ferrite included in sections along the cable, magnetising as they overlap. The USB plug is reversible and the other end bears either a Lightning, USB-C 3.1, or Micro USB connector.


Capital is Dead →

Data as the new capital

In her provocative new book, Author McKenzie Wark argues that “the all-pervasive presence of data in our networked society has given rise to a new mode of production, one not ruled over by capitalists and their factories but by those who own and control the flows of information. Yet, if this is not capitalism anymore, could it be something worse? What if the world we’re living in is more dystopian than the techno utopias of the Silicon Valley imagination?”


Overheard on Twitter

I'd love to watch a movie where programming is accurately depicted.

A team is trying to quickly build an app that will save the world. The app won’t compile. Someone keeps adding to the scope. The project manager is asking for an update every 15 minutes.



Food For Thought

How to Build an Audience of 1000 True Fans in a Noisy World →


A wonderful, actionable summary of the 1000 True Fans concept: “If you build an audience of 1000 true fans, you won’t have to spend a fortune on advertising or keep implementing growth hacks. Instead, you’ll have a much more sustainable way of growing, one in which the people who love what you do become your biggest fans, who spread the word, who recruit more people to join your tribe, buy your products, and who would miss you if you were gone. There’s no tactic more powerful than someone who is a true fan of your work.”

A New Social Contract →


A great four-part series on the issues of our current social system and what reforms are necessary to ensure democracy survives. “Our political parties, our political tools, our political institutions, our political language – even our political ideas – were literally designed in and for a different industrial era. A different world from the one in which we now live.”

At Tech’s Leading Edge, Worry About a Concentration of Power →


Today, we talk about Big Tech’s concentration of power mainly in regard to data and reach. But if the future is powered by AI, we will increasingly rely on the computing power of Amazon, Google, etc. to lead the way, and that’s problematic. “A.I. research is becoming increasingly expensive, requiring complex calculations done by giant data centers, leaving fewer people with easy access to the computing firepower necessary to develop the technology behind futuristic products like self-driving cars or digital assistants that can see, talk and reason.” [Possible paywall]


Aesthetically Pleasing

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Impressive editorial design for annual magazine Yellow Vision.

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Wow! I’d love to see these 19th century paintings of translucent waves in real life.

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Robu Grotesk is a new experimental grotesque sans family designed for display purposes such as posters or window displays.

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Noun Project launches a new collection of 60+ icons representing women in design, technology, and leadership positions, available for free as Public Domain.



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Strangers is a members-only, non-fiction book club launching in January. We mostly read and brood about the roles of technology in society. Serious readers wanted.

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The Week in a GIF


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