Publisher/Editor, Offscreen Magazine, Dense Discovery
Kai Brach spends a lot of time thinking about how humans shape technology and how it shapes us. He is the creator of Offscreen Magazine, a printed publication that invites you to step away from your device and think deeply about your role in the tech community. The people, projects, and ideas featured in Offscreen “put impact and purpose above growth and profit…offering a more inclusive and equitable vision of the future.”
You might also know Kai through Dense Discovery, a weekly curated newsletter filled with apps, tools, art, and thought-provoking things to read, listen to and watch. It’s a favorite for many of us on the team.
Design. Architecture. Climate. These are just a few of Kai’s interests. He is a fan of living lightly, collecting experiences and friends and having adventures on foot. Ask him about that time he walked across Germany from Passau to Hamburg.
🤓 I geek out about…
Passive design in architecture. While I currently prefer to live in inner-city apartments and therefore have limited influence on my built environment, I love reading up on new, innovative ways of creating homes that are not just super comfortable to live in but also cause minimal damage to the planet. It’s a nice overlap of my interests in architecture, design, and the environment/climate. Once you understand the basic principles of passive building design, the way you look at houses, even – or especially – the expensive designer mansions, will change forever.
🎒 I collect…
Very little. I don’t really subscribe to modern minimalism (because it’s depressingly sterile as an aesthetic and dogmatic as a lifestyle) but I do like the feeling of living lightly, of not being beholden to too many objects, whether they are physical or digital. It sounds trite, I know, but I like the idea of collecting experiences and friends.
💬 My friends ask my advice about…
Living on a smaller footprint. Navigating modern life in a reasonably ethical and less environmentally destructive fashion in a capitalist society is a never-ending game of whack-a-mole. I have the privilege (time, money, education etc.) to figure out some of this stuff and share my findings with friends that don’t have the brain space to do it. Whether it’s finding a bank that doesn’t invest in fossil fuels or sourcing a kilo of butter beans without plastic packaging – I’m your guy.
🧰 How my weird obsessions show up in my work…
Usually by being opinionated. As you can probably tell from my answers, I often let my strong, somewhat idealistic views, especially about the climate crisis, show up in my editorial work. I’m sure my readers don’t mind (or maybe even like it) but when I look back at some of my old writing I sometimes wonder if I’m being too absolutist about certain things. As we all know, the world isn’t black and white. Nuance is crucial.
🌱 What form(s) of growth is/are most important for your company?
To be honest, I feel tired of hearing and talking about growth. I truly believe that the biggest problems as a society and as a deteriorating planet stem from this relentless pursuit of growth. Not just as a corporate construct, I think we’re way too obsessed with growth in all its forms: the idea of constantly improving, of becoming better, faster, smarter, more productive, etc. It’s not natural. I recently saw this person on Twitter saying: “I don’t think your life has to have a purpose, or you a grand ambition; I think it’s okay to just wander through life finding interesting things until you die.” I’m all for normalising tiny ambitions. Let’s do more stuff that has no potential for growth.
🌤️ A thing that makes me hopeful about the future of business:
Things like the degrowth and doughnut economics movements.
💭 I wish more companies would…
…pursue human-scale success.
💛 How can companies and industries take better care of people?
Regulation. Vote for people/parties that prioritise people over profits. The conversation about so many issues – from labor rights to environmental damage to health care – needs to move on from focusing purely on action on an individual or private level. We need to direct our focus towards the upper layers of power: governments, CEOs, lobby groups, etc. Deep structural change emerges from the bottom but it needs action at the top. Let’s start punching up!
🚶 I would walk 500 miles to…
Be with nature and myself. A couple of years ago I did exactly that. I took two months off and walked 1000 kilometres across Germany (from Passau to Hamburg). It was one of the best things I’ve ever done for my mental health and it also helped me better understand the culture, history and geography of my home country. It left me hungry for more adventures on foot!
You can connect with Kai on Twitter.