About Robin

It's me!

I live in Oakland, California. Before Oakland, I lived in Berkeley and San Francisco. I am very enthusiastic about the Bay Area; from Vallejo to Cupertino, I think it’s one of the most vital, interesting places in the world.

(If you are looking for a short bio to use as an introduction at an event: it is here!)

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.

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, down by the railroad tracks, which I share with the journalist Alexis Madrigal.

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

What do I mean when I say “media inventor”?

I think a media inventor is someone primarily interested in content (words, pictures, ideas) who also experiments with new tools and 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.

Basically, media inventors aren’t satisfied with the formats available to them by default. Novel, novella, or short story? Album, EP, or single? Media inventors imagine more. They imagine different.

Media inventors feel compelled to make the content and the container.

If any of this sounds familiar, I invite you to use the label, too! I am generally a mission to bring back the word inventor, with all its connotations: protean lightning-crackle 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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