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Sympathy for the Middleman

Despite mounting debt, it's imperative that we continue to laugh at calls for austerity and conservation, and celebrate those noble marketers that keep us consuming -- whoops, I mean innovating.

Rob Horning
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Oh, the Tangled Webs We Weave

Rob Horning
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flag Creativity

Rob Horning
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The Underground Empire

Rob Horning
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Headphones and Head Space

The quest for a perfect synthesis of public and private existence may lead us to online 'metaverses' where we don't really exist at all.

Rob Horning
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The Attention Economy

Amatuer online blogs and MySpace pages give currency to a growing 'attention economy', wherein the most successful have garnered the most flattering friends - and advertisers.

Rob Horning
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The Snacks Attack Society

Shopping, cooking, eating, washing dishes... it's all such a time-sucking, distracting chore. Best to wrap it all up in plastic and hurry it along, lest lost time eat at you.

Rob Horning
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Shopping Paranoid

Beware, be wary on your hunt for the perfect (you name it); for you are the hunted.

Rob Horning
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Information Whirlwind

The prestige of sharing an extensive downloaded music library is wearing so thin that it's becomming almost as transparent as that ever-blowing cyber wind.

Rob Horning
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Holiday Shopping: The Good Fight

Warriors of Consumption, Black Friday Masses, The Joys of Discretionary Spending, The Privilege of Spending.

Rob Horning
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The Usefulness Trap

Removed from the velvet-draped display; torn from the colorful packaging; off the rack and in the closet... it's just not all it seemed to be. The use value falls so short of the hype value of commodities, that actual ownership and use of a thing is disappointing if not disillusioning.

Rob Horning
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The Customer Is Always Wrong

Among other things, customer service is little more than survelliance with a smile. The end of craven customer service could return some dignity to the world of consumption.

Rob Horning
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Buy Me Beautiful

Thanks to cosmetic surgery, our bodies are now commodities.

Rob Horning
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The Consumer in the Kitchen

Nixon and Khrushchev's kitchen debate taught Americans that our citizenry is 'free'-- to shop.

Rob Horning
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The "Me" Syndrome

Marginal Utility -- The 'Me' Syndrome -- The glamorization of the rich inner life is the primary achievement of the culture industry, since what it sells is the kind of ripe fantasy that only one with a rich inner life would prefer to actual living.

Rob Horning
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Inefficient Intimacy

Pornography simplifies sex by making it a commodity. In the desire to accumulate more, intimacy is irretrievably lost.

Rob Horning
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Meters, Purple People Eaters and The Revolution Betrayed

On Taste tracking software; is it an anonymous angel? or something rather sinister?

Rob Horning
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In Search of Real Amateurs

Should the majority rule in terms of what art our society makes? Audience-vote-driven entertainment effaces the art being voted on and supplants it with the audience's self-regard, so that it all merely reflects the power the audience feels. Expertise on the subject is irrelevant; being heard and counted among the voters is all that matters.

Rob Horning
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Indecent Consumption

Why try to form a labor union at your local Wal-Mart when you can strike an equally seditious blow against the system by jerking off to photos of women in latex underwear? No matter how much we label pornography's users as 'addicts' or 'degenerates' and tout religious values, porn is not an immoral anomaly; it's a capitalist inevitability.

Rob Horning
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An Etiology of Boredom

In a land of plenty, the commodity of respect -- the sense of being socially recognized -- continues to be rationed, rendered scarce.

Rob Horning
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Traveling the Public/Private Divide

Portable entertainment and communication technology has obliterated the distinction between public and private spaces, and the inconsiderateness that accompanies these devices is fast becoming the public status quo, which drives more people to tune out, hastening the spiral toward complete incivility.

Rob Horning
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Celebrities and the Barnum Effect

Ah, the shine of a pretty new thing, the clever ploy of its packaging. We enjoy the fantasy that such things arouse, and then, when shoddy reality sets in, we tip our caps to the ingenuity by which we were led to indulge the fantasy.

Rob Horning
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Thrift Store Gentry

The thrift store shopper needs to turn a misfortune into a virtue; that of the conscientious non-conformist.

Rob Horning
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Convenience and the Cost of Free Music

Horning is not sure if he should admire those who maintain a personal ethical code and refrain from downloading free music -- a function the record industry has enabled -- or despise them for holding back the revolution.

Rob Horning
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We're All Walking Sandwich Boards, These Days

Perhaps people seem so much like ads because ads now make up the only universally acknowledged public discourse; ads are the only kind of communication now accepted in public space.

Rob Horning
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The New Sumptuary Laws for Modern-day Subjects

Now that the unwashed masses can afford dry cleaning, ads must teach the non-elite that freedom 'from' want is really just the freedom 'to' want.

Rob Horning
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The Mystery of Consumer Demand, or Personality as Inventory

Theories about consumers have change over the years, as they should. These days, we see ourselves as the sum total of the things we possess, as opposed to the sum total of things we have experienced.

Rob Horning
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The Myth of the Rebel Consumer

Expressing one's politics through what one buys is no politics at all; at best it is but a vote of assent for the existing economic arrangements.

Rob Horning

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