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Rob Walker
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Boris, Subverted

Here's a stealthy icon you've surely seen: Boris The Burglar. The trademarked Neighborhood Watch symbol is a de facto example of social intervention by way of graphic design — and arguable a powerful one. But what does it mean when that effective iconography is defaced, and neglected?

READ MORE | COMMENTS (4)

A Security Camera Worth Looking At

Does it matter what a security camera looks like? After all, this object's function is to see, not be seen, right? But maybe there's more to it than that. Here's the most considered example I've encountered of addressing how these objects should look, and why it matters.



READ MORE | COMMENTS (2)

Personal Packaging

Thinking about old mixtapes made me realize I didn't so much want to hear various cassettes I'd been given long ago as much I wanted to see them again. Here's why I thoroughly enjoyed revisiting the era when there was an outbreak of informal, untrained, one-to-one packaging.

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Hale County Revisited

Over a period of 20 years, Hale County, AL, has been the unlikely site of an amazing range of architecture and design projects aimed at social good. Taking a long view makes it clear how challenging it is to assess what's really worked and why — but also that this is a conversation worth having.

READ MORE | COMMENTS (4)

Mona Lisa Selfies

One of the most familiar images in the world has inevitably intersected with the contemporary habit of constant image-making. Whatever this says about today's museum experience, the resulting pictures are, actually, suprisingly charming.

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Is Design Benign?

Why not spend some of your long holiday weekend thinking about Design and Violence, the subject of MoMA's current online "curatorial experiment"? Admittedly, 3D-printed guns and the like are not a fun subject. But it's all great food for thought: Not just about the Web-based exhibition itself, but about how we frame "design" as a critical topic.

READ MORE | COMMENTS (5)

Seeing The Problem

You know what gerrymandering is — and you know, in part, because of the incredibly effective visualation of the idea created two centruries ago. Turns out that Gerrymandering 2.0 is even more destructively "effective," and more electoral districts have become accordingly grotesque (aesthetically, and practically). Perhaps a new graphic-communication effort can help lead us out of this predicament?

READ MORE | COMMENTS (2)

Scenes from the Crowdcrit Revolution

The "crowd" interest in design that's emerged over the past decade can seem like a noisy distraction to serious discussion. But maybe the crowdcrit revolution has upsides. Two recent incidents suggest to me that when the online masses take an opinionated interest in design, it's not a problem — it's an opportunity.

READ MORE | COMMENTS (3)

Rob Walker on Seeing

The second installment of our new series — Insights Per Minute — features Rob Walker on seeing. What if we judge what we see on whether or not we like it?

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No. 1 Object

Here's a brief and possibly ridiculous appreciation of an unquestionably ridiculous object: The Number One Hand. Its history popped up in the "news" recently, and I can't resist using that as an excuse to make the case for a thing that is so silly, it's perfect.

READ MORE | COMMENTS (1)

Rob Walker is a technology/culture columnist for Yahoo News. He is the former Consumed columnist for The New York Times Magazine, and has contributed to many publications. He is co-editor (with Joshua Glenn) of the book Significant Objects: 100 Extraordinary Stories About Ordinary Things, and author of Buying In: The Secret Dialogue Between What We Buy and Who We Are


Recent Book



Significant Objects: 100 Extraordinary Stories About Ordinary Things
Edited by Rob Walker and Joshua Glenn
Fantagraphics, 2012
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Other Essays: 2010-2012


Etsy Goes Pro
Wired, October 2012

Tumblr Follows Its ♥
The New York Times Magazine, July 12, 2012

What It Takes To Be A 'Tuber
The New York Times Magazine, June 28, 2012

A Product of Creative Friction
The New York Times Magazine, June 3, 2012

This Brand Is Your Brand
OnEarth Magazine, May 31, 2012

MakerBot's Meta-Tools
Fast Company, January 2012

Politics As Entertainment
The New York Times Magazine, January 4, 2012

The Dog Ate My Paycheck
Marketplace, December 16, 2011

Recognizably Anonymous
December 8, 2011: Slate

A Visual Object for the Digital Era
December 2011: The Atlantic

What Percent Are You, Really? 
November 29, 2011: Marketplace

The Machine That Makes You Musical
October 23, 2011: The New York Times

The Cult of Bang & Olufsen
October 2011: Wired

4CP Friday: Effacement
September 2011: HiLobrow

Replacement Therapy
September 2011: The Atlantic

Not All Consumers Are Equal
August 18, 2011: Marketplace

The Trivialities and Transcendence of Kickstarter 
August 5, 2011: The New York Times Magazine

The Swan Song of the Top 40
July 15, 2011: The New York Times Magazine

Foursquare's Branding With Badges
July 5, 2011: Slate

Failure Chic
June 16, 2011: Marketplace

Hiring "the crowd" for a design job
May 31, 2011: Slate

Advertising that's "relevant" — but to whom?
May 23, 2011: Marketplace

Disliking "Dislike"
March 31, 2011: Marketplace

The Propaganda of Concern
March 22, 2011: Slate

The Sound of Radiolab
The New York Times Magazine, April 7, 2011

Disliking "Dislike" 
Marketplace, March 31, 2011

Fun Stuff (Digital Collections)
The New York Times Magazine, February 11, 2011

Go Figure (Scalies)
The New York Times Magazine, February 4, 2011

Ghosts In The Machine
The New York Times Magazine, January 9, 2011

Collecting: Bicentennial Quarters
DesignObserver.com December 9, 2010

Go Figure (Scalies)
The New York Times Magazine, February 4, 2011

The Hidden: Filtering "Friends" On Facebook
TheAtlatntic.com, October 4, 2010

Hearing Things (Music Objects) 
The New York Times Magazine, September 10, 2010

Taking Lulz (Sort of) Seriously 
The New York Times Magazine, July 16, 2010

Brilliant Mistakes (Digital Antiquing) 
The New York Times Magazine, July 25, 2010

Valuing $0 (Gifts) 
The New York Times Magazine, May 13, 2010

Rewind (The Cassette) 
The New York Times Magazine, April 23, 2010

Slightly Used (Best Made Ax) 
The New York Times Magazine, April 3, 2010

Clutter, Objects, Joy
Murketing.com, March 4, 2010

Shopping Our Way To Safety (Review) 
The Journal of Industrial Ecology, February 2010

The Unlikely Success of Boing Boing 
Fast Company, December 2010/January 2010

Site and Sound: One Home, Sixteen Objects and the Things We Listen to Now
Essay for Rewind, Remix, Replay exhibition at Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, January 20, 2010

Complete List >>




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