Rob Walker (journalist)

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Rob Walker
Walker at the 2019 Texas Book Festival
Walker at the 2019 Texas Book Festival
Born1968 (age 53–54)
Houston, Texas, United States
OccupationWriter, reporter
Notable worksBuying In
Letters from New Orleans

Rob Walker is an American author and freelance journalist. He writes "The Workologist" column for the New York Times Sunday Business section and blogs for Design Observer.[1][2] He is also the former "Consumed" columnist for the New York Times Magazine, where he was a contributing writer from 2004–2012,[3] and coined the word "murketing."[4]


Walker has written for and worked as an editor at such publications as, New York Times Magazine, Money, and The American Lawyer.[5]

Walker's 2005 book, Letters From New Orleans, was compiled from essays emailed "to interested parties" about life in New Orleans, where he lived in the early 2000s.[5] Subjects covered in the book include celebratory gunfire, rich people, religion, the riddle of race relations in our time, robots, fine dining, drunkenness, urban decay, debutantes, the nature of identity, Gennifer Flowers, and mortality. All author proceeds from Letters from New Orleans went to relief organizations such as the Red Cross and others working with victims of Hurricane Katrina.[6]

In 2008, Walker published book exploring themes similar to those in his "Consumed" columns called Buying In: The Secret Dialogue Between What We Buy and Who We Are[7] It was reviewed favorably and received much attention for its discussion of the term "murketing" which Walker had coined.[7][8]

Walker has written a number of comic book stories published under the name R. Walker. A collection of his satirical stories of the business world was published in 2001 as Titans of Finance: True Tales of Money & Business.[9] Collaborating with artist Josh Neufeld, Walker tells the tales of Wall Street's most well-known Icaruses. The stories are entirely based on press accounts, with practically no embellishment. Among those profiled are Ronald O. Perelman, Al Dunlap, Mike Vranos, and Victor Niederhoffer. Titans of Finance received a good deal of attention from the mainstream business press, including Fortune Small Business,[10] U.S. News & World Report,[11] Kiplinger's Personal Finance,[12] Money[13] and The New York Times.[14]


Walker has participated in or led a number of artistic projects including the Hypothetical Development Organization[15] which explored renderings of purely hypothetical possibilities for blighted buildings in New Orleans, the Unconsumption Project, which tracks mindful consumption and creative reuse.[16][17] He also started the MLK BLVD open source journalism project housed on which looks at the streets by that name all over the word.[18][19]

The Significant Objects project, where writers are paired with an interesting object curated by Walker and co-founder Joshua Glenn, about which he or she writes a fictional story, later to be sold on eBay,[20] has been extensively covered in the press, including on NPR's "All Things Considered,"[21] the "Paper Cuts" blog of the New York Times Book Review,[22] the Chicago Tribune,[23] and The Economist online[24] and employed the talents of such writers as Kurt Andersen, Nicholson Baker, William Gibson, Myla Goldberg, Ann Nocenti, Lucy Sante, and Colson Whitehead. A book compiling 100 of these stories was published by Fantagraphics Books in 2012; all the stories are maintained online at.[25][26]


The "Consumed" column, which appeared weekly in The New York Times Magazine, examined consumer behavior from a hybrid business-and-anthropology standpoint. Each column discussed a new product or consumer trend. The column began in 2004, and ended in 2011.[27]

Personal life[edit]

Walker is a 1990 graduate of the University of Texas at Austin,[5] and is married to photographer and designer Ellen Susan.[28]


  • The Art of Noticing: 131 Ways to Spark Creativity, Find Inspiration, and Discover Joy in the Everyday (Knopf, May 7, 2019) ISBN 978-0525521242
  • Significant Objects: 100 Extraordinary Stories About Ordinary Things, edited, with Joshua Glenn (Fantagraphics Books, August 6, 2012) ISBN 978-1606995259
  • Buying In: The Secret Dialogue Between What We Buy and Who We Are (Random House, June 2008) ISBN 1-4000-6391-4
  • Where Were You? (self-published zine, 2007–present)
  • Letters From New Orleans (Garrett County Press, 2005) ISBN 1-891053-01-9
  • Titans of Finance: True Tales of Money & Business (with artist Josh Neufeld) (Alternative Comics, 2001) ISBN 978-1-891867-05-7


  1. ^ "The Workologist". The New York Times. Retrieved 11 December 2015.
  2. ^ Announcement: Rob Walker Joins Design Observer, by The Editors, June 6, 2011
  3. ^ Walker, Rob. "About". Retrieved 11 December 2015.
  4. ^ `Murketing' to Hipsters Saves Pabst, Boosts Apple: Book Review by Carly Berwick - June 25, 2008
  5. ^ a b c "The Anti-Consumerist" The Alcalde, by David Menconi, Archived at the Internet Archive
  6. ^ "'Letters From New Orleans': Before the Flood", by Kate Sekules, New York Times Book Review, October 23, 2005. Retrieved May 10, 2010.
  7. ^ a b "Branded", review of Buying In by Farhad Manjoo, New York Times Sunday Book Review, July 27, 2008.
  8. ^ [1] Salon Book Awards 2008], by Laura Miller,
  9. ^ Alternative Comics, ISBN 1-891867-05-9
  10. ^ Gilman, Hank. "Editor's Notes," Fortune Small Business (Feb. 2002).
  11. ^ Pethokoukis, James M. "Corporate comics: It's a bird, it's a plane, it's a . . . flying CEO?" U.S News & World Report (Sept. 2001).
  12. ^ Sean O'Neill, "Comedy of Errors," Kiplinger's Personal Finance (Sept. 2001),
  13. ^ Kurson, Ken. "CEOs as Comic Heroes," Money (June 2001).
  14. ^ McGeehan, Patrick, "Private Sector; Dumbed Down on Wall St.: Junk Finance, With Pictures," New York Times (June 3, 2001).
  15. ^ Urban Hypotheticals by Geoff Manaugh, BLDG BLOG
  16. ^ Unconsumption, New Hampshire Public Radio, by Virginia Prescott
  17. ^ "Unconsumption". Retrieved 2020-07-07.
  18. ^ Photos: Martin Luther King Boulevards Around the USA, by Xeni Jardin, BoingBoing, December 6, 2005.
  19. ^ [2]
  20. ^ About the Significant Objects Project. Significant Objects. Accessed April 6, 2010.
  21. ^ Simmons-Duffin, Selena. "A Doll with a Story," "All Things Considered" (Dec. 20, 2009).
  22. ^ Schuessler, Jennifer. "A Literary Garage Sale," Paper Cuts (July 14, 2009).
  23. ^ Borelli, Christopher. "An Inexpensive Object can be Worth a Lot if it Carries a Good Story," Chicago Tribune (Sept. 8, 2009).
  24. ^ Ramchandani, Ariel. "The Q&A: Rob Walker, Consumer, Thingamabob Connoisseur," More Intelligent Life: The Economist's blog. Accessed April 6, 2010.
  25. ^ Borrelli, Christopher (August 17, 2012). "Worth their weight in words Review: "Significant Objects" edited by Rob Walker and Joshua Glenn". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 31 December 2015.
  26. ^ Significant Objects | …and how they got that way.
  27. ^ Fun Stuffl, by Rob Walker, The New York Times Magazine, February 11, 2011
  28. ^ Titunik, Vera. "Real Designs for Fake Buildings Are Going to Venice". The New York Times. Retrieved 17 December 2015.


External links[edit]