• The payoff of daydreaming: In WSJ. Seems relevant to the debate over “culture of distraction” and all that, but I haven’t worked out a good theory of how.
  • Kind words from Lux Lotus: “Speaking of riveting, a genius book that I read on this trip is my friend Rob Walker’s Buying In: The Secret Dialogue Between What We Buy and Who We Are, which I’ll be thinking about for a while. It offers a deeper exploration of up-to-the-moment alternative models of information distribution vs. traditional communication channels for expression of cultural production in the marketplace than anything else I’ve encountered.”
  • Christy Petterson Q&A: Crafter, writer, ICE organizer, friend of Murketing. On The Storque.
  • Iranian-expatriate TV station’s role: “Mailed out thousands of camera pens to citizens in Iran to help them document events the government wants to keep quiet. The pens pull apart to reveal a flash drive for plugging into a computer and uploading video.” Well that’s interesting. I wasn’t even familiar with the idea of “camera pens.” Have to see if somebody has more details on that.
  • “Plastectomy”: “Some depict [credit] cards being chopped with scissors, shredded in blenders or chewed by lawnmowers. Others show cards set on fire, or doused with liquid nitrogen and then shattered with a hammer.”
  • Links compiled via delicious, and repurposed here with plug-in Postalicious.

Work, craft, sex

Fast bikes, slow food, and the workplace wars: Kalefa Sannah writes in the NYer: Shop Class as Soulcraft “is, in large part, a treatise on the joys and frustrations of manliness in a post-manly age.”

I was interested to read this, because my reaction to the excerpt was that it had a lot more to do with those issues than it did with the (alleged topic of) joy/satisfaction of working with your hands. I haven’t read the book, but I couldn’t shake the feeling in the essay that Crawford was bent on signaling his fundamental man-ness. It’s interesting to me that some forms of DIYism are positioned in gender terms, and others (like Crawford’s book) are treated as more transcendental statements about American life.

On a related note, I think Sanneh’s very good essay would have been even better if it had somehow worked in Handmade Nation and the considerable subculture (or culture) it represents, and how its participants think about consumption, gender, work, and so on.


Ad Naseam: A Survivor’s Guide To American Consumer Culture

41e-wu0eazl_sl500_aa240_From time to time — or really, almost every week — I get inquiries from friendly people and perfect strangers who want book recommendations. They always claim to have read my book, so I can’t suggest that. I’m going to start compiling a list. I swear. I’m really going to do it. And yes, as a matter of fact, I’m going to link everything through an Amazon Associates account. Profit motive.

Certainly Ad Nauseam: A Survivor’s Guide to American Consumer Culture, is a book that I can recommend without hesitation — because after all, I was asked to write a forward for it. And I did so happily. (In fact, I did it for free! Profit motive isn’t everything!)

Here it is:

Active vs. Passive:

A Forward To Ad Naseam

Active vs. passive: That’s the crucial dichotomy everybody talks about in discussions of media culture in general, and the commercialized subset of that culture in particular. I believe I first encountered Stay Free! in 1997 (that’s the date on the oldest issue I still have, at any rate). An independent publication produced and distributed and finding its audience against astonishing odds, it was certainly the opposite of passive. I loved it, and remained a devoted reader of the print version and its online successor. It was smart and funny and entertaining and original: Well-researched and serious when it needed to be, and sharply satirical and almost reckless when it didn’t. Extremely informed interviews from scholars coexisted with smart-ass pranks. And the writing, by Carrie McLaren, Jason Torchinsky, and their colleagues, always took an approach to commercial and media culture that was active in the very best sense of the word. Read more



In The New York Times Magazine: Dead retail

America’s retail infrastructure is vast and abundant. That’s the problem.

Talk of American infrastructure tends to focus on inadequacies: roads that need to be repaired or widened, bridges fortified, electrical grids updated. All the more striking, then, that America’s retail infrastructure — its malls, supercenters, big boxes and other styles of store-clumping — has come to be characterized by rampant abundance. This has been a decades-long trend. But it has taken the economic downturn, with chain stores liquidating, mall tenancy slipping and car dealerships scheduled for closure, to focus popular attention on the problem with our retail infrastructure: there is too much of it….

Read the column in the June 14, 2009, New York Times Magazine (special architecture/infrastructure issue), or here.

Discuss, make fun of, or praise this column to the skies at the Consumed Facebook page.

Writing is making

I don’t think the workshops taught me too much about craft, but they did teach me about the importance of making things, not just reading things. You care about things that you make, and that makes it easier to care about things that other people make.

So writes Louis Menand, one of my very favorites, in a recent New Yorker piece about creative-writing workshops.

One thing I like about this line is that it assumes that writing is making something.

I also like the idea that writing makes one appreciate others’ writing in a new way. I’m less certain this latter idea is always true — but I do like it.


  • Not-So-Easy Listening: You’ve surely read this: “Sufjan Stevens Fans Must Visit a Brooklyn Man to Listen to Folkie’s Tune.” Says guy: “It brings people togethe [rather than] being lost among 14,000 iTunes.”
  • Status and Attention: This has to be relevant to all social media: “Thesis: People contribute more to content sites like YouTube when they receive positive attention, and a lack of attention causes people to uploading less content and, in some cases, to stop contributing altogether.”
  • PSFK: Not into Kindle: PIers Fawkes kicks Amazon’s device in the teeth.
  • Craft Blogging: Craftypod podcast gives some really practical and thoughtful blogging advice. Aimed at the crafter, but probably of use to anybody who uses a blog as part of any kind of business enterprise (or creative enterprise). If I ever started blogging, I’d take this advice.
  • The Music Tee: The T-shirt as music-distribution method. “Each shirt comes with a hang tag printed with a URL and a unique code; each code will allow the owner of the shirt to download one copy of each of the tracks printed on the shirt from the Music Tee Room on LnA’s website.”
  • Star Trek Communicator App: “Trillium mesh cover flips out and animates open with a flick of the wrist, exposing the communicator interface. The opening action is accompanied by the familiar ‘chirping’ sound.” Etc.
  • Links compiled via delicious, and repurposed here with plug-in Postalicious.



  • mktg: Is this tumblog the future of Maybe so.
  • Tablet Magazine: Formerly Nextbook. I’m linking to the Podcast page — it’s consistently interesting & generally hosted by friend of Murketing Sara Ivry.
  • Study: 10% of Twitter users generate 90% of content: “The most striking result was that so few people used the service to publish information, preferring instead to be passive consumers. The median number of lifetime tweets per user is one.”
  • Links compiled via delicious, and repurposed here with plug-in Postalicious.

Watches, identity, and counterfunctionality: My latest, and last, word on the subject

Longtime readers know that I’ve long had an interest in watches that  really aren’t very useful as tools to tell you what time it is. What’s the point of such things? Well I used them in a Consumed column as an example of the identity power of counterfucntionality — drawing on the research of Wharton’s Jonah Berger. That column is here.

Deep Glamour has just run a series of posts about watches. This post examines watches as markers of “an eye for style and design.” This one focuses on status.

With all that in mind, I hereby announce yet another in my astounding series of quixotic side projects: Counterfunctionality, A Gallery. I’m adding one counterfucntional watch or watch-like object per day, from my very extensive collection of links. Enjoy.

Food stamps: Is there an app for that?

Over on the Consumed Facebook page, I floated my interest in the line in the interesting story in this weekend’s Times Magazine about “free agent” types fallen on hard times in this downturn — the line in which the strugging yoga instructor informs the reporter that she’s in line for food stamps, by way of a message sent from her iPhone.

Thoughtful responses from readers on the FB page, and I’m still pondering the weird dissonance of food stamps and an iPhone.

But meanwhile, it occurs to me that maybe here is an opportunity: An iPhone app that allows you to somehow download your food stamps.

Perfect for depression 2.0, no?



  • When the Thrill of Blogging Is Gone …: More nostalgia for blogs. Long taily side note: “Richard Jalichandra, chief executive of Technorati, said that at any given time there are 7 million to 10 million active blogs on the Internet, but ‘it’s probably between 50,000 and 100,000 blogs that are generating most of the page views.’ That’s a serious letdown from the hype that greeted blogs when they first became popular. No longer would writers toil in anonymity or suffer the indignities of the publishing industry, we were told. Finally the world of ideas would be democratized!”
  • Proposed: Emmys for product placement: “Television programming and advertising copy can hardly be considered enemies anymore.” Somebody should come up with a term to encapsulate that trend.
  • Competitive Altruism: Being Green in Public: “Griskevicius and his colleagues recommend that companies find a way to publicize the fact that celebrities buy green products. They might also consider keeping those products at a higher price, since penniless people can’t afford to indulge in status-seeking and others will pay a premium for it.” I think this is absurd. The “celebrities use green stuff” strategy is hardly novel advice — it’s been beaten to death in the actual marketplace. And keeping prices artificially high to stay out of reach of lower income levels might be good for business, but it’s catastrophic for actually achieving the ends that “green” business supposedly wants. It literally makes change impossible by assuring that any green business is, by definition, only for elites.
  • The Millionaire Investor Index: Had its biggest one-month surge ever in May.
  • The irrational war on electronic cigarettes.: Fascinating.
  • Links compiled via delicious, and repurposed here with plug-in Postalicious.