Unconsumption & Help Wanted update

Posted by Rob Walker on March 19, 2009
Posted Under: Unconsumption

[3/25 update: I’ve now got several contributors to the Unconsumption blog, but if you have strong ideas about what you’d like to contribute I’d still be happy to hear from you. Also stay tuned for news of the next phase of this project, coming soon. In the short term, check out the blog, and if you like it, tell your friends, or better yet hype it to a high-powered famous online personality or entity.]

So a few weeks back I announced the Unconsumption Tumblr blog, the latest iteration of my unconsumption interests.

Couple of updates and thoughts. First, at the time I read a blog reaction somewhere (I forget where) speculating that this was some kind of trial balloon or first step in researching a new book. Not so!

First, I have no intention of writing another book about consumer behavior, material culture, etc.*

Second, I see unconsumption as an extension of Buying In, not a potential sequel. I always wanted the “sell” on Buying In to be that it was a book that would “help you change the way you shop/consume,” by pulling back the curtain on contemporary murketing practice as well as workings of the consumer mind revealed by behavioral psychology. (Instead the “sell” ended up being more along the lines of “you are what you buy,” which to me didn’t really communicate the idea that reading the book could help you make better consumption decisions. But oh well.) In other words, the unconsumption concept flows directly out of my own conception of a book that I’ve already written.

And in any case, unconsumption is not a very book-y idea — it’s meant to be more open-ended. It’s not a definitive statement. See a few of the suggested notions of unconsumption on the Tumblr blog.

And — here’s the point — help us make it better.

As before, I am actively seeking collaborators on this project. I don’t want to own it, I just want to throw it out there. I want it to be a framework for a different way of thinking about the secret dialogue between what we buy and who we are.

The first step is getting more contributors to the unconsumption blog. I could particularly use some involvement from somebody who is a closer follower of sites like Worldchanging and Treehugger and similar sites that I don’t always have time to check out — to find the on-point items on such sites to add to the gallery of unconsumption thought and resources. Personally I think Tom and I are doing a reasonably interesting job of surveying & curating online unconsumption ideas, but your help might make it even better.

If you’re interested, let me know. I am inviting you, right now. Collaboration. Open-source. All that.

So: Email me at: murketing@robwalker.net.

The next step would be the creation of an unconsumption wiki, something Tom & I have discussed a bit. More on that later — though if you have an immediate reaction to that hint then, again, get in touch.

All of this is, for me, an exercise in trying to contribute something positive to the public discourse on consumer behavior — rather than simply making pronouncements, trend-pro-style. Trying to be proactive, not just reactive.

[* Not that I wouldn’t like to publish a Consumed collection, which is something a number of people have asked about. The present stumbling block to that would be, you know, convincing a publisher that somebody would buy it. Interested publishers are also invited to get in touch!]

Further diversion may be found at MKTG Tumblr, and the Consumed Facebook page.

Reader Comments

“First, I have no intention of writing another book about consumer behavior, material culture, etc.*”


So you leave the marketing world with vapid books from Seth Godin and the likes…thanks.

Rushkoff is also getting very socially conscious–I don’t see an updated Coercion anytime soon.

Oh well, maybe Holt will write another good one soon.

I need a Buying In that talks about murky blogs, social networks, and web2.0!

Written By Dr. Horowitz on March 23rd, 2009 @ 9:04 pm
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