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Rob Walker (journalist)

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Rob Walker
Walker in 2010
Walker in 2010
Born1968 (age 55–56)
Houston, Texas, U.S.
Notable worksThe Art of Noticing
Buying In
Letters from New Orleans

Rob Walker (born 1968) is an American journalist, author and educator, whose primary interests include design, business, technology, consumer culture, and the arts.

He is the author of The Art of Noticing (2019), Buying In: The Secret Dialogue Between What We Buy and Who We Are (2008), and co-author, with Joshua Glenn, of Significant Objects: 100 Extraordinary Stories About Ordinary Things (2012). He writes a regular column in Fast Company magazine and has written for Design Observer, Bloomberg Businessweek, and The Atlantic. From 2013 until 2018, he wrote "The Workologist" column in The New York Times, and between 2004 and 2012 was a contributing writer for The New York Times Magazine, for which he wrote the "Consumed" column.[1][2][3] He serves on the faculty of the Products of Design MFA program at the School of Visual Arts in New York City.[4][5]


Walker has written for and worked as an editor at such publications as The New York Times, The New York Times Magazine, Slate, Money, The Atlantic, Design Observer, and The American Lawyer.[6][7]

in 2019, Walker published The Art of Noticing, a book about distraction, attention, and finding inspiration, with Knopf.[8][9][10][11] As an addendum to the book, he publishes a biweekly email newsletter about "creativity, work, and staying human" on Substack.[12][13]

In 2008, Walker published a book exploring themes similar to those in his "Consumed" columns called Buying In: The Secret Dialogue Between What We Buy and Who We Are. It was reviewed favorably and received much attention for its discussion of the term "murketing", which Walker had coined.[14][15]

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.[6] 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.[16]

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 together with artist Josh Neufeld, as Titans of Finance: True Tales of Money & Business.[17][18][19][20]


Walker has participated in or led a number of artistic projects including the Hypothetical Development Organization (together with Ellen Susan and GK Darby), which explored renderings of purely hypothetical possibilities for blighted buildings in New Orleans, and was part of the official U.S. presentation at the 2012 Venice Architecture Biennale.[21][22][23][24] He also started the Unconsumption Project, which tracks mindful consumption and creative reuse,[25][26] and the MLK Blvd open source journalism project, which looks at the streets sharing that name all over the word.[27][28]

The Significant Objects project, where writers are paired with an interesting object curated by Walker and co-founder Joshua Glenn, about which they write a fictional story, later to be sold on eBay.[29][30][31][32] A book compiling 100 of these stories was published by Fantagraphics Books in 2012.[33][34]

Personal life[edit]

Walker is a 1990 graduate of the University of Texas at Austin,[6] and is married to photographer and designer Ellen Susan.[35]


  • 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. ^ "Rob Walker » About". Retrieved July 2, 2022.
  2. ^ "The Workologist". The New York Times. Retrieved December 11, 2015.
  3. ^ Announcement: Rob Walker Joins Design Observer DesignObserver.com, by The Editors, June 6, 2011
  4. ^ "Rob Walker - SVA". School of Visual Arts | SVA | New York City. Retrieved July 2, 2022.
  5. ^ "Rob Walker: Creativity, Mindfulness Speaker - Penguin Random House Speakers Bureau". November 27, 2021. Retrieved July 2, 2022.
  6. ^ a b c "The Anti-Consumerist" The Alcalde, by David Menconi, Archived at the Internet Archive
  7. ^ "Rob Walker » About". Retrieved July 2, 2022.
  8. ^ Herrera, Tim (July 15, 2019). "You're Not Paying Attention, but You Really Should Be". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved July 2, 2022.
  9. ^ Taylor, Bill (May 23, 2019). "To Come Up with Better Ideas, Practice Paying Attention". Harvard Business Review. ISSN 0017-8012. Retrieved July 2, 2022.
  10. ^ Todd, Sarah (May 9, 2019). "These joyful exercises will help your brain regain its attention span". Quartz. Retrieved July 2, 2022.
  11. ^ "The Motivational Industrial Complex". Design Observer. Retrieved July 2, 2022.
  12. ^ Walker, Rob. "The Art of Noticing | Rob Walker | Substack". robwalker.substack.com. Retrieved July 2, 2022.
  13. ^ "Recode Media: How to make it in the creator economy with Rob Walker on Apple Podcasts". Apple Podcasts. Retrieved July 3, 2022.
  14. ^ "Branded", review of Buying In by Farhad Manjoo, New York Times Sunday Book Review, July 27, 2008.
  15. ^ [1] Salon Book Awards 2008], by Laura Miller, Salon.com
  16. ^ "'Letters From New Orleans': Before the Flood", by Kate Sekules, New York Times Book Review, October 23, 2005. Retrieved May 10, 2010.
  17. ^ Alternative Comics, ISBN 1-891867-05-9
  18. ^ 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).
  19. ^ Kurson, Ken. "CEOs as Comic Heroes," Money (June 2001).
  20. ^ McGeehan, Patrick, "Private Sector; Dumbed Down on Wall St.: Junk Finance, With Pictures," New York Times (June 3, 2001).
  21. ^ "Rob Walker » Hypothetical Development Organization". Retrieved July 2, 2022.
  22. ^ "The Hypothetical Development Organization". Design Observer. Retrieved July 2, 2022.
  23. ^ Urban Hypotheticals by Geoff Manaugh, BLDG BLOG
  24. ^ Bustler. "U.S. Pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale Announces Participating Projects". Bustler. Retrieved July 2, 2022.
  25. ^ Unconsumption, New Hampshire Public Radio, by Virginia Prescott
  26. ^ "Unconsumption". unconsumption.tumblr.com. Retrieved July 7, 2020.
  27. ^ Photos: Martin Luther King Boulevards Around the USA, by Xeni Jardin, BoingBoing, December 6, 2005.
  28. ^ [2] MLKBLVD.wordpress.com
  29. ^ About the Significant Objects Project. Significant Objects. Accessed April 6, 2010.
  30. ^ Simmons-Duffin, Selena. "A Doll with a Story," "All Things Considered" (December 20, 2009).
  31. ^ Schuessler, Jennifer. "A Literary Garage Sale," Paper Cuts (July 14, 2009).
  32. ^ Borelli, Christopher. "An Inexpensive Object can be Worth a Lot if it Carries a Good Story," Chicago Tribune (September 8, 2009).
  33. ^ Borrelli, Christopher (August 17, 2012). "Worth their weight in words Review: "Significant Objects" edited by Rob Walker and Joshua Glenn". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved December 31, 2015.
  34. ^ Significant Objects | …and how they got that way.
  35. ^ Titunik, Vera (May 15, 2012). "Real Designs for Fake Buildings Are Going to Venice". The New York Times. Retrieved December 17, 2015.


External links[edit]