Nothing in nature is random. A thing appears random only through the incompleteness of our knowledge.

– Baruch Spinoza


Featured illustrator: Sergiy Maidukov

Dense Discovery
Dense Discovery

Welcome to Issue 68!

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For this final DD issue of the year, I’d like to get something off my chest that’s less cheery than the many other emails in your inbox wishing you a merry Christmas and a successful new year. I want to talk about eco-anxiety.

In almost every regard this year has been wonderful for me. I have very little to feel anxious about – if there wasn’t this unabating sense of despair about the natural world. 2019 has been a disastrous year for our planet: fires, floods, droughts, heatwaves, air pollution – in almost every category we’ve seen records not just broken but smashed. As I’m typing this, catastrophic bushfires here in Australia are gobbling up flora and fauna of an area larger than the entire country of Belgium. (Or more than 3.5 times the area destroyed by the Amazon fires earlier this year.)

2019 was the year the climate crisis finally hit home – with a sucker punch. At times I found it hard to focus on anything else. The omnipresent headlines of new natural (?) disasters gave even joyous moments a hint of existential dread. 2019 was the year I realised that this is not an exception. This is the new normal.

A selfish part of me wants to just drop everything and enjoy what’s left of the natural world before it’s gone. The more altruistic me won’t simply accept this new reality. So my coping mechanism for 2020 is a balancing act of both: doubling down on my very limited impact as an individual while also carving out more time to immerse myself fully in nature, hoping that I can replace some of the more destructive anxiety with a sense of acceptance.

I leave you with this perspective on the notion of impermanence which gave me a little bit of solace:

(...) There are two stories we are good at telling ourselves: one is that the world is ending; the other is that everything will be fine. As followers of the Middle Way, we would do well to remind ourselves that the future is likely to be played out somewhere between these two narratives. Some tragic endings are inevitable, and we will have to learn how to live with the accompanying guilt, pain, and loss. At the same time, we still may be able to prevent the worst of it – for both humans and nonhuman species. That is to say, with a little luck and a lot of work, we might preserve humanity’s place in the cycle of samsara, with a new perspective on suffering and our relationship to this precious earth.


PS: DD will be back with a new issue on January 7th. Thank you for your kind support over the past twelve months!

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Apps & Sites

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Vectornator →

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Elements of AI →

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Indie Mag of the Week


Lodestars Anthology →

Focusing on one country per issue, Lodestars is a scrapbook of place, a magazine that goes deep into the heart of a location and uncovers its quirks, flavours, and splendour.

– Latest Issue: 12 (Switzerland)
– Frequency: 2 issues/year
– Formats: print
– Origin: UK

Every week 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!




Pretty Fly For A WiFi →

An encyclopaedia of Wi-Fi names

German speakers only (sorry): this beautifully designed publication by the German Duden Verlag showcases over 400 Wi-Fi names across 13 German cities, telling stories about people, the cultural zeitgeist, and the current politic climate. (More photos/via AIGA)


Secret Riso Club →

Risograph prints

I’m really enjoying these Risograph art prints with some very unambiguous messages. (Wonder what Risograph printing is?)


Overheard on Twitter

You know how sports teams have ‘rebuilding years’? I think people should be allowed those too. When someone asks how you’ve been/what’s new in your life, you should be able to say, “It’s a rebuilding year” and leave it at that.



Food For Thought

How To Simplify Your Life →


The School of Life with a beautiful short summary of life’s constant struggle to achieve simplicity: “We refuse to take seriously how much of our babyhood is left inside our adult selves – and therefore, how much care we have to take to keep things simple and very very calm. What registers as anxiety is typically no freakish phenomenon; it is the mind’s logical enraged plea not to be continuously and exhaustingly overstimulated.”

Electric vs Fossil Fuelled Cars →


Comparing the environmental footprint of fossil fuel cars with electric cars, but also why we need to go beyond just that comparison: “It is interesting to compare different kinds of cars, but ultimately I think it would be more beneficial to the planet and more useful to humanity to ask what a future without them or with far fewer of them might look like.”

This economist has a plan to fix capitalism. It’s time we all listened →


An interesting longread about Mariana Mazzucato, an economist with innovative ideas for tackling some of the problems of capitalism. Encouragingly, her work is getting real traction in EU and US politics. Her unorthodox approach is ‘mission-oriented’, employing similar tactics used for the Apollo programme, the space programme that landed Americans on the Moon. “These mission-oriented institutions were actively creating and shaping markets, rather than merely fixing them. They were ambitiously seeking high-risk directions for research and investment, rather than outsourcing and avoiding uncertainty.”


Aesthetically Pleasing

❏ ❏

These colourful, buoyant illustrations for a city planning project in Toronto are a real head-turner.

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Waneella creates intricate, animated pixel art backgrounds and scenes. Support them on Patreon.

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Telegraf combines the forms of mid-century grotesks with rigid angles.

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Geode are jigsaw puzzles inspired by the formation of agates, a colourful banded stone. Each puzzle is unique, emerging from a computer simulation that creates natural variations in the shape, pieces, and image.



Strangers is a book club for people who don‘t like book clubs. 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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