You are under no obligation to remain the same person you were a year ago, a month ago, or even a day ago. You are here to create yourself, continuously.

– Richard Feynman


Featured artist: Marianna Tomaselli

Dense Discovery
Dense Discovery

Welcome to Issue 99!

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“We never call anything that’s good ‘content’. Nobody walks out of a movie they loved and says, ‘Wow! What great content!’ Nobody listens to ‘content’ on their way to work in the morning. Do you think anybody ever called Ernest Hemingway a ‘content creator’? If they did, I bet he would punch ‘em in the nose.”Greg Satell, 2015

The word ‘content’ makes many of us cringe. Not least because we use ‘content’ as a catch-all phrase to describe very different types of creative output. A 15,000-word piece of investigative journalism and a sponsored influencer post about a vegan shampoo brand – in the eyes of platform algorithms, it’s one and the same. It’s all just stuff that goes into the space that’s there to be filled.

Of course, that’s what content is to social platforms: fuel for their data collection engine. Big Tech realised early that there is little money in content, but a lot of money in a content delivery model. Kudos to them, I guess.

Figuring out how to make content the actual business model again (and not just fodder for the business model) remains a huge challenge for publishers everywhere. If you squint hard enough, though, you may see the beginnings of a paradigm shift.

As we’re growing increasingly weary of algorithmic curation that keeps flooding our zone with shit, some of us make more intentional decisions about their media intake. We increasingly turn to (and are willing to pay for) more relatable, human voices that respect our attention and build meaningful connections.

Maybe, just maybe, with small-scale publishers and individual content creators leading the way, we can turn the tide and redefine the meaning and value of ‘content’. – Kai

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Apps & Sites

Jitsi →

Free, open-source video calls

Jitsi is a free, secure, open-sourced video conferencing tool you can use right away on their website or download it and install an instance on your own server to be even more in control of your privacy.

Space →

Collaboration platform

Space looks like a great all-in-one project management and team collaboration platform, optimised for (but not exclusive to) software developers. The long list of features includes blogs, live chat, issue tracking, code review, meeting organiser, and a lot more.

Readdle Calendars →

iOS calendar app

Calendars is a great-looking, more powerful alternative to the iOS’ built-in calendar app, giving you different ways to view and plan your schedule.

Readng →

Community for book lovers

Still in closed beta, Readng promises to be a community for book lovers that’s free of ads and algorithms. I think there is a real opportunity to create a smaller, less metrics-driven alternative to Goodreads. Kind of like what VSCO is to Instagram. (Just added my name to the waitlist.)


Worthy Five: Afyia Smith


Five recommendations by UX designer Afyia Smith

A concept worth understanding:

Teaching as a way to learn and build confidence. Tatiana Mac gives 10 great reasons why more beginners should teach.

A Twitter account worth following:

Nikole Hannah-Jones is an investigative reporter covering civil rights and racial injustice, and won the Pulitzer Prize for her work on the landmark 1619 Project.

A cause worth supporting:

Long-form, non-fiction, narrative, or even investigative journalism such as ProPublica, Mother Jones, and The Atavist Magazine.

A recipe worth trying:

As a plant-based eater I love this tasty veggie and apple slaw recipe. My son is a very picky eater and he really enjoys it.

A newsletter worth subscribing to:

The Brain Pickings newsletter shares interesting articles across the arts, science, philosophy, and creativity. Don’t miss their Favorite Books list.




Net Privacy →

Freedom in an age of surveillance

With the pandemic shifting even more of our lives online, it’s crucial to form a better understanding of what privacy is and how/why we need to protect it. “Have we built ourselves a digital Panopticon? Are we the guards or the prisoners, captive or free? Can we be both? When Kim Kardashian makes the minutiae of her life available online, which is she? With great rigour, this important book draws on a Kantian philosophy of ethics and legal frameworks to examine where we are and to suggest steps – conceptual and practical – to ensure the future is not dystopian.”


Talk Matters →

Cards to inspire conversation

Yet another deck of cards (coming to you from my hometown of Melbourne) designed to stimulate conversations about topics that matter. “Inspired by a mix of uncertainty and hope about the future, we populated these cards with important questions and divisive tidbits of conversation.” (Temporarily sold out, pre-order available)


Overheard on Twitter

Some of y’all keep trying to fight every monster except for the monster inside yourself and it really shows.



Food For Thought

Coronavirus and the return of plastic – in pictures →


Just when the world seemed to have come to terms with its addiction to plastic and started to make progress on pushing for less toxic alternatives, the material is making a huge comeback – thanks to the pandemic. Looking at these photos, the notion of a planet ‘choking on plastic’ has never been more apt.

The Subtle Linguistics of Polite White Supremacy →


Yawo Brown with a cogent piece on the language of ‘polite white supremacy’ which he describes as “the notion that whites should remain the ruling class while denying that they are the ruling class, politely.” At the foundation of this white denialism are the three C’s: comfort, control, and confidentiality. “The ruling class has begun to employ a particularly clever passive tactic to remain in power while denying this power. They pretended this was the natural way for society to function and influenced perception by using double standards in language as a starting point.”

How to talk to conspiracy theorists – and still be kind →


A list of practical advice on how to deal with conspiracy theorists – because we all know at least one. It also highlights that conspiracies are appealing to all of us: “It’s very human and normal to believe in conspiracy theories. ... It’s a defense mechanism: we’re primed to be suspicious and afraid of things that can’t be explained.” (possible paywall)


Aesthetically Pleasing

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New Zealand artist Ben Young uses glass, cast concrete, bronze and stainless steel to make these fascinating topographic sculptures. “Each of Young’s sculptural works are hand drawn, hand cut and handcrafted from clear sheet float glass, then laminated layer upon layer to create the final form.”

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A lovely identity for Saudi Arabian coffee roastery JOOD, whose logo merges the first letter of the word Jood in Arabic (ج) and English (J).

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I’m absolutely captivated by the work of Bahamas-based portrait and documentary photographer Melissa Alcena.

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I love how much character (get it?) Anouk has: “a reversed high contrast typeface designed to be used at large sizes. A raw but elegant typeface suited for nonconformist titles, it represents the voice of an eccentric-hip fashion.”



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The Week in a GIF


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