213 / The freedom drivers were promised and cyclists enjoy

I don’t want to show things, but to give people the desire to see.

– Agnes Varda


Featured artist: Kristina Pedos

Dense Discovery
Dense Discovery

Welcome to Issue 213!

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In a small country town, getting around almost always means getting in a car, depending on a car. I didn’t think much about it when I was visiting family back in Germany, but there is so much fretting involved in every movement.

Is the car available at the time I need it? Can I still drive a stick? Am I insured as an ‘other driver’? What’s the traffic like at this hour? What roads are closed for roadworks? Do I need to get petrol first? Can I even park there? Do I need coins for the metre?

Now that I’m back on my bicycle, those stresses dissipate. I just unlock and go. I never think about road works, speed cameras or parking. The majority of street signs don’t apply to me. I only register petrol stations because of their noxious odour.

I pass a lot of angry drivers, perhaps upset about my ease of movement. Although they seem to dislike other drivers, too. In the daily rush hour struggle, everyone is an adversary. Cyclists usually love more cyclists: join the peloton and let the pace of others pull you along.

With freshly pumped-up tires and the support of a gentle tailwind, I can feel the fresh air in my face. My body is engaged, my senses are heightened, my heart is pumping. Dopamine and serotonin are doing their thing. The first balmy days in Melbourne and I can’t tell you how much I enjoy being back on my bike. – Kai


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Impactful stories are rarely linear. Every venture stagnates at some point. This podcast explores how mental flexibility helped flagging ideas pivot into unexpected success. These stories help us figure out how we can grow a little faster by turning things upside down.


Apps & Sites

Semiphemeral →

Auto-delete old tweets

I use TweetDelete to automatically remove tweets of mine that are older than six months. Semiphemeral does that too, but offers more granular settings. I’m also impressed by it’s clear stance against fascist Twitter users: “If you like tweets posted by fascist influencer accounts, @semiphemeral will block you and you’ll be ineligible to use the service until you’re unblocked.” (via)

IA Presenter →

Text-based design presentations

IA, famous for their minimalist writing app, have launched a preview and waitlist for their new presentation tool. In typical IA fashion, the interface is centered around text input and strong typography that produce ‘clean’, minimal slides.

Post-it App →

Post-it notes scanner

If you work a lot with Post-it notes, I recently learned that the brand has an official companion app that allows you to “capture notes from the group and organise them on a shared [digital] board in real-time”.

Slow Roads →

Driving simulation

This is about as much driving as I need in my life: unlike the real thing, driving in Slow Roads is therapeutic. Change the viewing angle, time of the day or entire scenery through keyboard shortcuts. You can also put the car/bike/bus on auto-pilot and just enjoy the ride. Pretty amazing this is possible in a web browser.


Podcast recommendations by Anna Grigoryan


Writer and podcast fan Anna Grigoryan recommends eight of her favourite podcasts. She’s currently working on Kradl to improve podcast discoverability and bring a bit more nuance to the internet.

1 – Lit Society

Two women talk about books but in a way you’d talk about your life to your BFF. I really can’t reproduce their hilarious banter and dynamic in text format – you have to listen to it. I highly recommend the Crazy Rich Asians episode.


True crime meets media analysis. A podcast with an amazingly high production value, covering all the media pieces or magazine covers that were ‘killed’ for various reasons. Each episode is a documentary-style deep-dive into a story, featuring interviews with people who were there during the ‘killing’.

3 – Criticism Is Dead

A podcast that explores potential meanings behind movies and TV shows – new and old – uncovering underlying themes few of us may have noticed.

4 – The Video Essay Podcast

The video essay genre is my favourite genre on YouTube: video essays are in-depth explorations of a topic, usually revolving around politics, pop-culture or philosophy, that entertain and inform. This podcast is about the making-of of this genre: the host interviews creators about the craft of videographic criticism.

5 – Thresholds

Thresholds is a podcast I hold very dear to my heart: interviews with writers and artists from all over the world about their process and their ‘aha’ moments. Unexpectedly, the episodes explore grief, loneliness and loss from a unique perspective. One of my favourite episodes is the one with Canadian writer Sheila Heti.

6 – The Europeans

After relocating to Europe, I wanted to find a podcast that covers politics, economics and more generally how things work in this corner of the world. This show helps me make sense of the major events happening across Europe.

7 – The Polyester Podcast

My favourite podcast at the intersection of feminism and pop culture. Their episodes may seem to cover social media drama but they talk about modern topics from a progressive, feminist lens. Polyester is also an independent member-supported publication with poetry and personal essays.

8 – Let’s Make a Sci-Fi

As someone newly indoctrinated to the world of sci-fi through the Dune and Foundation series, I went looking for podcasts on that topic and found a treasure trove: in Let’s Make a Sci-Fi, three comedians write a sci-fi novel and in the process interview other sci-fi writers and artists about their process.

(Did you know? Friends of DD can respond to and engage with guest contributors like Anna Grigoryan in one click.)


Books & Accessories


What Works →

A new approach to goal setting

I always appreciate Tara McMullin’s writing through which she investigates more humane interpretations of things like labour, career and productivity. I receive her newsletter, but I don’t always get to read it in full. So I’m glad she’s put all that good stuff into a brand new book: What Works is an antidote to the relentless pursuit of ‘more’ and the culture of striving that we live in. It’s an unconventional approach to goal-setting, planning, and execution that prioritizes practice over achievement in both life and work.”


Survival of the Richest →

Escape fantasies of tech billionaires

In between the many crises making headlines, you occasionally read about some tech billionaire’s newest side project, which usually involves some form of post-civilisation escapism. In this new title, author Douglas Rushkoff “confronts tech utopianism, the datafication of all human interaction, and the exploitation of that data by corporations. Through fascinating characters – master programmers who want to remake the world from scratch as if redesigning a video game and bankers who return from Burning Man convinced that incentivized capitalism is the solution to environmental disasters – Rushkoff explains why those with the most power to change our current trajectory have no interest in doing so.”


Overheard on Twitter

Engineer: Wow, that train is fast.
Elon Musk, tears forming in his eyes: My imaginary one is faster.



Food for Thought

The Art of Negativity →


This one somehow fell through the cracks. It was a reader suggestion (thanks Vishal!) in response to my intro to DD181 in which I talked about the value of negativity. Like the other pieces I referenced back then, this one, too, highlights the benefits of ‘negative thinking’ – for the self and society more generally. “In the contemporary milieu, the idea of being negative is either regarded as a destructive mentality or else defeatist fatalism. But, at least in passing shades, negative emotions can hold great power. There resides in negativity the seed of critical thought and a beneficial duty to engage with one’s internal feelings. The work of negation, indeed the very act, is a process which remains productive in a sense – a deconstruction rather than a wholly violent act of destruction. The act of being negative is a process of ‘working through’ – a struggle.”

The Diminishing Returns of Calendar Culture →


Our understanding of time and the way we organise our lives around it are critically important in our capitalist culture. Anne Helen Petersen points out that notions of efficiency and productivity – both products of our perception of time – don’t just control our busy calendars, they normalise a kind of obedience to existing power structures. “Through the commitment to busyness and its organization, we inscribe and reinscribe a certain understanding of time onto our children, onto each other, onto ourselves. We discipline our messy, distracted, inquisitive, emotive selves into the most valuable possible forms of human capital possible. We suggest that sort of regimentation is not only possible (just organize harder!) but aspirational.”

Has the Internet Reached Peak Clickability? →


Huh. This is the first time I read about the weird theories on the death of the internet, such as the idea that the internet is now in control of bots and AI and little actually human-made corners remain. I don’t (yet) buy the base assumption, nor the conclusion that this leads to a renaissance of long-form content, but it’s an interesting theory to contemplate. “In 2001: A Space Odyssey, the power-hungry computer HAL 9000 tries to take over a spacecraft and kill the astronauts. But Arthur C. Clarke and Stanley Kubrick got it all wrong. We now know that AI prefers to sell us garbage we don’t need and force us to watch stupid 10-second videos.”


Aesthetically Pleasing

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The British Landscape Photographer of the Year 2022 awards have a lovely selection of photos of the UK in all of its living, breathing glory. (Credit top: Gray Eaton; bottom: Bruce Little)

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Mother and daughter artist team Penny Thomson Works creates tiny kinetic sculptures that simulate the movements of animals. There is so much detail in each of these – made from papier-mâché. (via)

❏ ❏

This is great architecture and a model that I wish became a lot more common in a lot more places. La Chalmeta is a housing cooperative in Barcelona that contains 32 apartments and spaces for collective use. The city of Barcelona has ceded to site to the cooperative for a minimum of 75 years. “Around two courtyards, spaces for use by the cooperative take up the rest of the ground floor: a clinic, a kitchen-dining room, a laundry, a cooperative store, and a multipurpose hall, besides spaces for group gatherings and work.”

❏ ❏

Sisteron is a display font with 543 (!) glyphs, “including a wide array of alternates and foreign characters, making it compatible with dozens of foreign languages”.


Notable Numbers


London has reduced city centre traffic by a whopping 33% since the introduction of a congestion charge, a £15 fee that applies to vehicles entering the inner city area. 80% of the revenues raised are used for public transport investments.


The global population with access to safely managed drinking water services has grown from 3.8 billion in 2000 to 5.8 billion people in 2020.


Meta has spent more than $15 billion on its Reality Labs metaverse venture since the beginning of last year, but so far, the company hasn’t shared on what, precisely, money is being spent.



I was tired of cheaply-made, poorly-designed bags, so started Baxley. Timeless, obsessively designed, British-made waxed-canvas bags.

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