Other projects update

counterwatchI mentioned a while back that I was cataloging all my collected images of counterfunctional watches in one place. That’s just about done. See: Counterfunctionality: A Gallery. I’ll add new ones as they come along, but I’m pretty sure this is everything I’d stockpiled. It’s pretty impressive if you ask me. (But if you ask me, what would you expect me to say?)

I’m still not sure if I should expand the Gallery to include non-watch examples of counterfunctionality, or just stick to the one product category. This was all inspired, you may recall, by this Consumed.

thingsthatbwAnd meanwhile, Things That Look Like Other Things will continue to be updated daily, for a good while at least. I still haven’t worked off my inventory on that one, and new examples seem to pop up every day.

This too is a spinoff of an earlier Consumed column.

That is all. Have a nice weekend.

Me in NYC: Reminder + new development (won’t mention it again, sorry)

As mentioned repeatedly: Talk + book signing at NYU’s Blowing Up The Brand, Friday night. Details & RSVP here.

Also: At the end of the 8:20 pm Saturday screening of Objectified at IFC Center, I’ll join director Gary Hustwit for a brief audience Q&A.

Rob Walker May 8 NYC reminder

As noted: I’ll be speaking Friday night, May 8, as part of an event at New York University called Blowing Up The Brand: Critical Perspectives on Promotional Paradigms. This event is free and open to the public — but apparently because it’s at NYU you must register/RSVP, details here.

I’m working on my talk now, and it will be an attempt to tie together ideas about murketing-think as it relates to personal identity. I don’t meant personal identity in terms of “we are what we buy,” I mean the way the tools of commercial persuasion are being applied to the expression — or depiction — of indie-biz, of individuals, and of self itself. The blurring of the line, you might say, between commercial persuasion and personal identity.

Basically I will try to build on some of the ideas in  Buying In: The Secret Dialogue Between What We Buy and Who We Are, as they are being manifested on a more personal level in this Web 2.0/Depression 2.0 moment.

I am thinking the talk will be titled, “If You Follow Me I Will Follow You Back.”

Needless to say, the book will be for sale at the event. So tell your friends, fans, and followers.

More about the conference here.

(I screwed up the dates of this event in the earlier post. What you see here is correct.)

On being interviewed (for “Objectified”)

As some of you know, I was interviewed for the documentary Objectified, which has shown in a few cities already, and has some (sold out) screenings in New York starting last night. I’ve seen the movie, and it’s pretty interesting and I think worth seeing if you’re interested in material culture in the 21st century (which I assume you are or why in the world are you on this site)?

Anyway, I thought I would pass along an observation or two about being interviewed. Possibly it’s of interest only if you’ve seen the movie, I don’t know. Read more

Speaking in NYC at May 8/9 “Blowing Up The Brand” event

[NOTE: I had the dates off by one day on this earlier; it is now correct.]

I guess that headline sort of says this already but, uh, I’m going to be in New York on May 7 as part of an event at New York University called Blowing Up The Brand: Critical Perspectives  on Promotional Paradigms. You should come! Your friends should come! Especially if you and your friends are among the millions who haven’t yet found the right opportunity to purchase a copy of Buying In: The Secret Dialogue Between What We Buy and Who We Are. It’ll be for sale and if you buy one I’ll even sign it, if you go in for that sort of thing.

More on the conference momentarily, but I want to point out up front: It is free and open to the public — but apparently because it’s at NYU you must register/RSVP, details here. Space is limited and a chunk is reserved for NYU students and faculty, so if you’re interested, don’t sleep.

Okay so more about the conference:

Creative cities, PR nations, celebrity diplomacy, Hype Machine, branded philanthropy, YouTube identities….
These are both symptoms and effects of what Andrew Wernick termed “promotional culture”: the extension of promotional discourses, practices and performances into virtually all areas of public life.

What is at stake in these contemporary promotional paradigms?…

The goal of this two-day conference is to develop a set of productive critical perspectives on promotion in relation to contemporary culture. We seek to assemble creative and interdisciplinary frameworks to identify common themes and disjunctures inherent to these forms of communication. At issue is the changing role of the consumer-citizen-user in contemporary life.

Sounds interesting, eh?

So I’m doing a public talk/Q&A Friday night May 8. Then May 9 a variety of actual academics will present on a variety of topics around this theme. Check out all the details here.

Tell your friends, post it, Twitter about it, mention it to your Facebook contacts, and everything else. Thanks so much.

(By the way, I’ve added a new box to the column at left about “Places I Will Be.”)

SXSW reminder: Say hello

I didn’t think this would be necessary, but I am in receipt of a fresh email asking if I’ll be at SXSW this year. I thought I’d banged on about this enough, but, yes, yes I am.

Sunday at 5 pm I’ll be at the South By Bookstore until 5:30, signing books. And patiently waiting for you, yes, you, to sidle up and say hello.

The South by Bookstore is located on the Trade Show Floor. Enter the Austin Convention Center (on 4th Street across from the Hilton), take the escalators up to the fourth floor, take a right when you get off the escalator and walk down the hall. The main entrance to the trade show is on your left. Walk to the back, right side of the room. The bookstore is along the back wall. There will be signs identifying it.

I’ll also be a panel earlier that day: “We Have Been Objectified: Identity, Consumerism, and the Future of Designed Objects.” That’s in connection with the documentary Objectified which premieres at SXSW tonight. Read what Core77 has to say about that film here — no, here. (The original Core77 post was taken down, but it’s back now.)

Now you know.

Changes to Consumed Facebook page — and a new experiment

As you may know, Facebook has made pages (like the Consumed Facebook page) look/work more like profiles. That generally seems like an improvement. It has also prodded me to make some minor changes — and to float a new idea (see #3).

1. There are now more ways to offer feedback, which I’m always happy to hear, either by commenting on a particular posted column, or writing on the Consumed page’s wall. (I had that disabled before.) So please chime in as you see fit.

2. The page now has a status-update component, which I’ll use of course to let readers know when a column is online — but also to, for instance, to let people know that I’m going to be on WNYC’s Sound Check today talking about “Obama as muse.” That sort of thing.

3. The new idea: In an effort to put readers (I am not crazy about the word “fans”)  in the spotlight, I want to do a series of mini-Q&As with some of the interesting people who have joined the Consumed Facebook page. I will post them on Murketing.com and link from Facebook. I’m approaching people now, but if you’re interested in participating, join the page & let me know.

That’s all for now…

SXSW “Objectified” panel and book-signing

On Sunday March 15, I’m scheduled to be on a panel related to Gary Hustwit’s documentary Objectified, at SXSW in Austin. My understanding is that the panel is titled: “We Have Been Objectified: Identity, Consumerism, and the Future of Designed Objects.” Details are here.

Afterwards I’ll be signing Buying In at the “South By Bookstore.” Please stop by and say hello — and tell your SXSW-going friends who haven’t bought the book that now is the time. Details:

The South by Bookstore is located on the Trade Show Floor (#s 534, 535, 900), labeled South by Bookstore on the Trade Show map. Enter the Austin Convention Center (on 4th Street across from the Hilton), take the escalators up to the fourth floor, take a right when you get off the escalator and walk down the hall. The main entrance to the trade show is on your left. Walk to the back, right side of the room. The bookstore is along the back wall. There will be signs identifying it.

Rob Walker/Buying In: 5 – 5:30 pm, Sunday March 15


9781594488931lSo I just a got a Fedex — a fair-sized box containing a copy of the rather lavish coffee-table-style book Obama: The Historic Journey. This is, in part, a New York Times production. I got a copy because a Consumed that I wrote about Obama-inspired art is reprinted within.

I gave permission for that column to be included (free) a while back, and that had sort of slipped my mind until I got the nice note from the publisher asking for my address. I must admit I had no idea the book was such an extravaganza. It costs $40. Lush color photography throughout, as well as writing from many Times contributors the general public has actually heard of. I’ll check it out more thoroughly later.

Meanwhile, if you’re interested, more information here.

Memo to the ad biz…

I have something in The Big Money today: A call to commercial persuasion pros to use their skills on behalf of causes and ideas they believe in — not nonprofit client causes, and not the ideas of socially-responsible-business clients. Their own causes, their own ideas. The piece is here.

It’s pleasing to have something the extended realm of Slate again, after many years.

Annual reminder: MLK BLVD open-to-all photo project

You and everyone you know are, as always, still invited to contribute images from streets, avenues, boulevards, drives, etc., named for Martin Luther King, Jr.

The Flickr pool is here. The highlights blog is here — and now has images from about 44 cities and towns around the U.S.

Disclosed: Brief visit to NYC

Tomorrow (Thursday) night, I’ll be very briefly in New York for an American Craft Council panel called The Politics of Craft. This is not an advertisement for myself, as the main attractions are Sabrina Gschwandtner, of KnitKnit, and Liz Collins, knitwear designer and founder of Knitting Nation. I expect both will be very interesting and I’m looking forward to meeting them. I’m simply the moderator.

The real reason I bring this up is to apologize in advance to friends in NY: I will not be seeing any of you. I’m literally just there for the night and leaving very early the next morning. So if you happen to hear about this event and wonder why I’m in town without calling, that is the reason. Catch you next time?

UPDATE 9/24: Here is a link to audio recording of this event, if  you are curious.

Portland rundown


I was away most of the week, in Portland, OR. I was there for The Kitchen Conference, where I learned some interesting things, met some really nice people, and had a very fine time. A few of the interesting brands in attendance included Method (which comes up in Buying In); gDiapers (7/23/06 Consumed subject) and Yolo Colorhouse. Big thanks to my gracious hosts there, and I may have more to say later about some of the topics that got me thinking while I was there, but in the meantime, check out host Maxwell PR’s blog, FreeThink.

I hadn’t been in Portland – a city I like quite a bit – in a few years. And I did manage to do a few other things and see some other folks outside the conference.

For instance, I got a chance to check out John Jay’s Studio J space in Portland’s Chinatown section. Mr. Jay is executive creative director and partner in Weiden + Kennedy; Studio J is his own creative consultancy, basically devoted to projects he’s interested in – it’s a little hard to characterize neatly because these are fairly diverse.

More on that and other Portland highlights for those interested, after the jump. Read more

Journal of Murketing Email: What is it?

Before this site existed, I used to do an occasional email newsletter called The Journal of Murketing. It ran on no particular schedule, and usually included a short essay of some kind. Then I stopped.

Then I started this site. Then I started a second version of the Journal of Murketing email. It’s not much like the first one. The current version is weekly, and the main point is to distribute a link to Consumed, plus some other stuff. (Frequent typos, for instance.) The essayish material is far more rare, because I have this site, but it still happens from time to time, if I have something to say that for whatever reason I don’t want to say here.

I bring all this up partly to answer some questions related to early copies of Buying In: Random House generously provided advance galleys to a number of Journal of Murketing email subscribers who weighed in when I asked readers about the book’s title. (Also to answer the question posed in the headline, since the signup form in the right-hand column offers (almost) no explanation.) There are no plans that I’m aware of to give away any more copies through that channel, but if you are curious about email, I’ve put an approximate re-creation of a sample “issue,” last week’s, after the jump: Read more

Welcome..! (But why, exactly?)

Welcome Marketplace listeners!

That’s right, I had a commentary run on the widely broadcast public radio show Marketplace tonight. I’m pretty pleased about that (even though I haven’t actually listened to it yet; I only know it ran tonight because I just got email from a detractor about it), because I’m a longtime listener to the show.

Anyway, if you look at blogs often, and I’m sure you do, you’ve probably had occasion to encounter a “Welcome!” post, like this one. This occurs when a blog is, say, mentioned in The Times, or on some other superblog (BoingBoing), or the blog’s author has been on television. So the post will say something like: “Welcome New York Times readers!” and the premise is that there are a flood of newcomers showing up as a result of the outside attention, and they need to be greeted in some way.

This isn’t something I’d thought about a whole lot, since this particular site tends not to have to deal with a lot of attention from media outlets or superbloggers. But now that Murketing is — or might be — getting some outside attention, it’s made me wonder: What are those “Welcome!” posts really about? Do these new readers need a welcome? Is a welcome likely to rope them in as regulars?

Possibly. But I think the real function of the “Welcome!” post is status signaling, in the economics sense. That is, it’s meant to signal the importance of the blog by making public mention of the attention it has received from some authority or other.

Again I haven’t listened to the show yet, so the truth is I don’t even know if they mentioned this site. But I know what I said, and it was about the death of conspicuous consumption and the rise of “the invisible badge,” concepts more thoroughly explored in Buying In.

But still: Welcome new readers (if there are any), I think with this post you now have a very good sense of I how I look at the world.

And as for you regulars: Now you know that — or maybe I’ve just tricked you into believing — others are interested, too!