A step backward, after making a wrong turn, is a step in the right direction.

– Kurt Vonnegut

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Featured artist: Mijke Coebergh

Dense Discovery
Dense Discovery
 

Welcome to Issue 96!

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With this issue I’m introducing a new section called ‘Worthy Five’ in which a different person recommends five things from a pre-defined list of categories. My hope is that featuring a diverse range of contributors – including folks from outside the tech bubble – will unearth some fresh internet linkage worthy of your time.

Melbourne’s lockdown #2 gives me a lot of time to contemplate the future of DD, and again I’m wondering what a reader-funded version could look like.

As I’ve written before, I think publishing projects supported entirely by advertising have no real future. Not because ads suck – I don’t mind tasteful advertising – but because surveillance-based ad algorithms from You Know Who are gobbling up all marketing budgets. While I’m very grateful to have the support of our current sponsors, I think it will get increasingly harder to fill those slots. (Speaking of which: sponsor slots for August are now available.)

Rather than turning DD into a members-only newsletter and thereby shutting out thousands of readers, I’m wondering if a two-tier approach could work: paying readers get the full experience, and non-paying readers get a slightly shortened version of DD, with some sections hidden.

I know that surveys are hardly representative, but I’d like to ‘check the pulse’ again and see how you feel about this idea. Could you please fill out this super-short, two-part questionnaire?

I’m just ‘thinking out loud’ for now, so nothing will change in the short term. Feel free to add your thoughts to the survey or voice them publicly in the comments section below. – Kai

You receive this email because you subscribed to Dense Discovery, a weekly newsletter at the intersection of tech, design, and culture read by over 32,000 subscribers. Support us by sponsoring an issue, booking a classified ad, or sharing this issue with friends.

 

Stop the Chaos SPONSOR

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Basecamp →

What To Do When Remote Working Isn’t Working

Now that your team is remote, are things getting missed? Do people say “I didn’t see that” and have to rush in the last minute? Learn why this happens and see how experienced remote teams make sure everyone knows what to do.

 

Apps & Sites

mmhmm →

Customised live presentations

What a great idea: with mmhmm you can create highly engaging video presentations that incorporate your slides, background videos, screencasts or any other visual material right into your video call. Watch the (very well done) video demo to see what mmhmm is all about.

Revere →

Notes app for people

Part of me does an eye-roll about the fact that this product exists. But another part sees how it can actually be quite useful: “Remember things like your last conversation, someone’s favourite drink, or their family members’ names. And set reminders so you never forget to stay in touch, no matter how busy life gets.” iOS only so far.

PliimPRO →

Screen-share mode for macOS

PliimPRO is a small menu bar app that allows you to enable ‘presentation mode’ which then hides desktop icons, disables notifications, mutes speakers, etc. – perfect for when you’re recording screencasts or presenting work in a live stream.

Munch →

New tab, new recipe

Currently for Chrome only, Munch shows you a different recipe every time you open a new browser tab.

 

Worthy Five: Lina Patel

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Five recommendations by facilitator & collaboration designer Lina Patel

A concept worth understanding:

History, economics, gender and modernity all have been shaped amid the paths of the world’s great rivers. Minna Salami shows how rivers reflect the things that we associate with power.

A place worth visiting:

The Commons is my favourite online library. I go there to develop shared ideas and visions for a just future with others.

A newsletter worth subscribing to:

Nikki Silvestri writes about designing relationship-centered economic and environmental strategies and how to lead with grace and power.

An activity worth doing:

Because I aspire to create truly multi-cultural teams and organisations, I’ve been curious about where existing workplace cultural norms and standards may stem from.

A podcast worth listening to:

Dissect Season 6, to understand the cultural and historical significance of Lemonade by Beyoncé. There’s also a visual guide to accompany this album.

 

Books & Accessories CONSUME RESPONSIBLY

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How Are We Going to Explain This? →

Our future on a hot earth

Just released: a new book with a fresh outlook and accessible analysis of the state of climate change: “Drawing on the latest climate science, Jelmer Mommers helps you find hope in the midst of the climate crisis. He describes how we got here, what possible futures await us, and how you can help to truly make a difference.”

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Design for Cognitive Bias →

How to design more consciously

An exciting new release by A Book Apart coming in August: “We humans are messy, illogical creatures who like to imagine we’re in control—but we blithely let our biases lead us astray. In Design for Cognitive Bias, David Dylan Thomas lays bare the irrational forces that shape our everyday decisions and, inevitably, inform the experiences we craft. Once we grasp the logic powering these forces, we stand a fighting chance of confronting them, tempering them, and even harnessing them for good.”

 

Overheard on Twitter

I think we need to stop calling it ‘working from home’ and start calling it ‘living at work’.

@H_DeQuincey

 

Food For Thought

Q&A with Ezra Klein →

Listen

One of the few podcasts I (occasionally) listen to is The Ezra Klein Show. I really enjoyed this recent episode in which Ezra answers audience questions. They first cover politics, which is interesting, but the more personal second part about his reading process, becoming a father, running a popular podcast and more offered me a lot to think about.

How to help your Black friends and your non-Black friends today →

Read

Kat Vellos provides some really useful and practical advice on how to support Black friends and colleagues – from how to have conversations about the news to talking about racism with your white friends.

I Was a Teenage Conspiracy Theorist →

Read

Ellen Cushing writes about her experience being consumed by conspiracy theories as a teenager. It’s hard to compare pre-Facebook conspiracy thinking with today’s post-truth world, but she still makes some great observations: “This is why it doesn’t matter that so many of these theories, the existence of the Illuminati among them, fall apart under even the feeblest scrutiny: The worldview dictates the details, not the other way around.” (Possible Paywall)

Editor’s Note Offscreen Issue 23 →

Read

After receiving a lot of positive feedback regarding my editor’s note in the latest issue of Offscreen, I decided to publish it online. I write about how the pandemic has been a boon to Big Tech and why we need more designers and developers who see the internet as a public utility, not as a vector for disaster capitalism.

 

Aesthetically Pleasing

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This might be my favourite photography find of the year: Steve McCurry shares some of his vast body of work which “spans conflicts, ancient traditions, and culture, yet always retains the human element”.

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The combination of colours, images, and typography works really well in this brand refresh for Galapos by Brazilian studio Valkiria.

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The Camp Adventure Park Tower is a 900m treetop walk connected to a 45 meter tall observation tower in the preserved forest Gisselfeld Klosters Skove, one hour south of Copenhagen, Denmark. What a stunning piece of architecture!

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Peter Biľak’s Typotheque just published The Q Project: “a broad, open-ended typographic play system that enables users to create a nearly infinite number of variations. Q consists of 6 uppercase base fonts and 35 attachments that can be added as individual layers. It also comes with a variable font with a motion axis, as well as three levels of basic forms that can be combined into new shapes.” Don’t miss this PDF with some examples of what you can create.

 

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The Week in a GIF

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