About Robin

It's me!

I’m the author of the novels Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, a New York Times Best Seller published in 2012, and Sourdough, new in 2017. In addition to those, I’ve produced an assortment of short stories and odd-shaped internet projects. My 2009 novella Annabel Scheme was an early Kickstarter success and still claims a special place in my heart.

(If you are looking for a short bio to use as an introduction: it is here! And a high-resolution version of the portrait above is here.)

I grew up in Troy, Michigan, and went to school at Michigan State, where I studied economics and co-founded a literary magazine called Oats. Between 2002 and 2012, I worked at the Poynter Institute, Current TV, and Twitter, and at all those places, my job had something to do with figuring out the future of media.

I am an enthusiast-level programmer, and I’ve recently been doing some experiments with machine learning. The audiobook for my second novel is, I believe, the world’s first to include sound generated by a neural network!

My partner Kathryn Tomajan and I make extra virgin olive oil on a leased three-acre grove in Sunol, California.

I work out of the Murray Street Media Lab in South Berkeley, which I share with the journalist Alexis Madrigal.

I live on the eastern edge of San Francisco Bay, down by the railroad tracks. From the Delta to the Valley, I am very enthusiastic about the entire Bay Area; I think it’s one of the most vital, interesting places in the world.

You can reach me via email: robin@robinsloan.com

What do I mean when I say “media inventor”? When I see a made-up label like that on someone else’s website, my first instinct is: oh, give me a break! But I swear to you, this term has emerged from real experience and real frustration—never quite being able to say what it is I do. What I like best.

So, I think a media inventor is someone primarily interested in content (words, pictures, ideas) who also experiments with new formats. The paperback pioneer Allen Lane was a media inventor. Early bloggers were media inventors. The indie video game scene is full of media inventors.

Media inventors aren’t satisfied with the formats available to them by default. Hardcover, paperback, or EPUB? Movie, Netflix show, or YouTube channel? Media inventors imagine more. They imagine different.

Media inventors feel compelled to make the content and the container. There’s craft involved here, and this is driven by an abiding (and possibly distracting) curiosity about tools and materials. The grain of paper. The grain of code.

One example of media invention might be my project Fish, an essay wrapped up in an app.

If any of this sounds familiar, I invite you to use the label, too! I am on a mission to bring back the word inventor, with all its connotations: protean energy-sizzle and occasional crackpotitude alike.


I mean.


This site is set in Alisa Nowak’s terrific Eskapade Fraktur from TypeTogether and Paul D. Hunt’s essential Source Sans Pro from Adobe.

September 2017, Berkeley

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