It’s easier to desire and pursue the attention of tens of millions of total strangers than it is to accept the love and loyalty of the people closest to us.

– William Gibson


Featured artist: Jonathan Holt

Dense Discovery
Dense Discovery

Welcome to Issue 85!

View/share online

Like so many others, I’ve been spending more time in the kitchen during isolation, trying to improve and expand my skills. It seemed like a good opportunity to replace some of my twelve-year-old cheapo gear with something more robust and capable. My first investment would be a decent set of kitchen knives.

And so before I knew it, I was in the depths of the YouTube-verse, learning about steel types, handle shapes, and whetstone grits. It only took me a few hours over a weekend to get a free crash course in knives – from making to using to looking after them. I also reached out to friends who are more experienced in the kitchen and/or tend to make well-informed buying decisions.

One of them is my friend Alistair who, unsurprisingly, had some savvy advice for investing in quality gear – kitchen or otherwise. Based on this excellent post on camping equipment, he compiled a list of questions to consult for major purchases. Here’s a shortened, edited version:

  1. Can I work around the problem with a repair, modification, or change in use?
  2. If I buy this, what else am I not buying?
  3. Can I afford this?
  4. Will this item help me do things I can’t do now?
  5. Will buying this item significantly increase my enjoyment of X?
  6. How often will I use this in the next year? In the next five years?
  7. Will this item become obsolete in the near term?
  8. Is this item repairable?
  9. Do I really need ‘the best’? What is a good second choice?
  10. Can I buy something used that will do the job?
  11. Am I supporting a business I know and like? Do our values align?

With mindless consumption being encouraged everywhere we go online, running through questions like this is a great way to add back in some friction. – Kai

Dense Discovery is a weekly newsletter read by more than 43,000 subscribers. Support us by sponsoring an issue, booking a classified ad, or sharing this issue with friends. Feedback or recommendations? Just reply, but keep it short please.


Improve Your Colour Game SPONSOR


Color Ninja for Mac →

Create perfectly matching designs

The hardest thing in design might be choosing colours. Make your life easier with a dedicated macOS app that features all the schemes and shortcuts you would expect.


Apps & Sites

Milanote →

Visual note-taking

Milanote is a virtual pinboard for your ideas. Use it to organise your ideas and projects into visual boards, collect everything – text, images, PDFs, links and more – in one place, then share it with your team.

Glance Back →

Browser-driven photo diary

Not one for the privacy-concerned: “Once a day, when you open a new [Chrome] tab, Glance Back will unexpectedly take your photo, ask you what you’re thinking about, and save both the photo and written thought to its locally stored archive.”

Scrumie →

Virtual stand-ups

An app to get everyone in a team on the same page: “Scrumie gives you a simple overview of the work done in your team.”

Vito →

Online events platform

My friends at ticketing app Tito, who face a particularly uncertain future as a business, have quickly responded to the current situation by developing a new online events platform called Vito. “Vito will be a place to share live-streams and agendas. You will be able to provide a safe, secure community for your participants (we’re calling this contextual networking).” ‘Invite only’ so far.


Indie Mag of the Week


Sandwich →

Sandwich is written as a celebration of the often overlooked, but universally beloved culinary creation: the sandwich.

– Latest Issue: 2
– Frequency: 4 issues/year
– Formats: print
– Origin: USA

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!




The Squiggly Career →

A new way to look at career paths

Today, we're living in a world of squiggly careers, where moving frequently and fluidly between roles, industries, locations, and even careers, is becoming the new normal. Squiggly careers can feel stressful and overwhelming, but if you know how to make the most of them, they can be full of opportunity, freedom and purpose. And to make the most of our increasingly squiggly careers we need to answer some important questions: What am I good at? What do I stand for? What motivates and drives me? Where do I want to go in the future?


Cubbit →

Peer-to-peer cloud storage

Removing monthly subscription fees and dependency on Big Tech (though requiring a substantial initial investment), Cubbit is a compact personal storage device that connects directly with your router. Under the hood, it runs an encrypted peer-to-peer network that makes your files accessible from anywhere, even if your own Cubbit is offline.


Overheard on Twitter

Me: I love pastry
Person on Twitter: I see that you like pastry and that’s fine but also I wondered if you ever knew that pastry was responsible for a murder in 1977 when someone set a sausage roll on fire which caused a fatality so you’re basically condoning murder here’s a link



Food For Thought

After dread →


So much to quote from this excellent, quite confronting piece by ethicist Cennydd Bowles. “Change happens where power meets appetite, but dread stems from a lack of agency: the future is only something to fear if we can’t influence it. And lack of agency is surely a hallmark of recent years.”

My Restaurant Was My Life for 20 Years. Does the World Need It Anymore? →


A touching essay written by a NYC restaurant owner, and a great follow-up to last week’s piece about which entrepreneurs matter. “I, like hundreds of other chefs across the city and thousands around the country, are now staring down the question of what our restaurants, our careers, our lives, might look like if we can even get them back.”

Take The Long View →


David Cain on keeping a healthy perspective on the different challenges life provides: “All problems exist within a context that dwarfs them, but often we’re too close to see it. You may have once been so stressed about a high school exam that your future seemed to hinge on its outcome. Looking back on your whole life, however, it will barely register as an important event.”


Aesthetically Pleasing

❏ ❏

What a lovely collection of climate action posters: Mate Act Now – a protest for the digital generation.

❏ ❏

More digital art with a dystopian touch, this time by Caleb Sanders.

❏ ❏

The brand identity for programming school Corpus is based on a program that transforms any text into a code and leans on the computational model of cellular automaton.

❏ ❏

A typeface for general practice, MD System is a distillation of the past 120 years of the grotesque style of typeface.



Want to make awesome landing pages? Get Landing Page 101 today. A straight-to-the-point field guide on making amazing first digital impressions with the websites you create.

Spotify users and music fans – stay in tune with What’s Spinning. Receive weekly digests highlighting your playlist updates and content related to artists you listen to.

Hello Iris is building the future of self-development. We provide guided meditations based on your personality – a new way to explore your unique experience of the world.

Portfolio Party is more than just a portfolio review. We hold you accountable, help you take action, and leave you with a community of new designers to connect with. RSVP now.

Classifieds are paid ads that support DD and are seen by our 43,000 subscribers each week.

Book yours →


The Week in a GIF


Email and tweet us the URL to your favourite GIF and we might feature it here in a future issue.