Writing

Meg Miller

writer & editor, Berlin & New York

[email protected]

A few selections:

On The New Women’s Survival Catalog The New York Times feature June 2020

In 1973, Kirsten Grimstad and Susan Rennie quit their jobs, rented a green Plymouth Duster, and drove 12,000 miles across the country to document a nationwide network of feminist alternative culture and resources. They visited feminist bookstores, printers, divorce co-ops, credit unions, dropped in on Rita Mae Brown and Judy Chicago, and in one case, tracked down an agriculture collective in California by asking around for the “women goat farmers with an octagonal barn.” The result is The New Woman’s Survival Catalog, the “feminist Whole Earth Catalog,” which was a bestseller in 1973 that all but disappeared before getting a recent reissue.

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Finding the Blank Spots in Big Data Eye on Design feature 2020

On the artists working to address a major problem for marginalized communities in the data economy: “If the data does not exist, you do not exist.”

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Free at What Cost? Eye on Design feature 2020

On the fight to keep renowned art school Cooper Union tuition free

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Calculated Dysfunctionality Lerchenfeld interview 2020

For HFBK Hamburg’s Lerchenfeld magazine, an interview with designers Christoph Knoth and Konrad Renner about digital publishing, the handmade web, the unlikely endurance of the PDF, and websites that replicate, then disappear.

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Introduction to the Are.na Annual Are.na essay 2020

The introduction to the Are.na Annual, a book about the past, present, and future of the Internet, with republished pieces from the Are.na blog and five original essays. Published in January 2020.

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On social networks as small communities Eye on Design feature 2020

On the possibility of individual-run, small-scale social networks, off of Darius Kazemi’s excellent guide “Run Your Own Social.” At a time when large swaths of the internet are owned by corporations, a community of artists and designers are encouraging people to create their own social networks for their friends, run on their own server, free of advertising and data mining. As Danielle Robinson, director of Code for Science & Society, puts it in the piece, “I think there are often projects that assume that everyone is okay with having their data live on an Amazon data center somewhere, and that’s increasingly not the case.”

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Quiet World Order Eye on Design Interview 2020

An Interview with Hamja Ahsan on Shy Radicals, a book dedicated to generations of Shy Peoples who have suffered belittlement “at the hands of Extrovert-Supremacism.” Shy Radicals is not a terrorist group, as terrorists are always noisy. Rather, they peacefully demand an independent homeland called Aspergistan where “introversion is inviolable,” and freedom from small talk is guaranteed. No one is required to attend social gatherings.

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Anna Della Subin on the Importance of Being Idle The Creative Independent interview 2019

A talk with writer Anna Della Subin on the virtues of idleness, procrastination as its own form of productivity, and the mythological power of sleep.

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Prem Krishnamurthy on Design as a “Generous Discipline” Eye on Design interview 2019

“On the one hand, we often approach art in terms of authorship. But graphic design is inherently a facilitating medium, in how it works relationally and socially. It is collaborative. Almost any piece of graphic design requires multiple agents involved in it. So rather than approaching graphic design in terms of “problem solving” or “functionality,” which are by now pretty outdated frameworks, how might graphic design work as a kind of positive excess?”

I talk to designer, artist, and curator Prem Krishnamurthy about design as a thing that unfolds over time, his admiration for those who "contribute to the ecosystem," and his predilection for word play.

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Restaurant Websites Are Good and We’re All Going to Miss Them Are.na interview 2019

An interview with Toph Tucker and Jasmine Lee on restaurant websites as the last bastions of personality on the web, the tyranny and possibility of Squarespace, and the unseen labor of restaurant webmasters. Conducted with Laurel Schwulst as the part of a series of interviews hosted in our kitchen. H/t to Leo Shaw for the descriptors.

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On Flying, Talismanic Tarmacs, and Soul Delay Are.na essay 2019

And the tarmac is temple of accidental deity, travel as a soulless state.

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Getting An Equal Share Eye on Design feature 2018

For Eye on Design magazine’s fourth issue, a reported piece on design studios that operate as worker-owned cooperatives and the rise in democratic workplaces during a time of growing economic inequality.

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Interview with April Greiman Eye on Design interview 2018

A longform interview with April Greiman, the designer who defined California New Wave, advocated for digital design early on, and created the poster/ publication “Does It Make Sense?,” a personal favorite.

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Interview with Claire Evans Are.na interview 2018

An interview with journalist and musician Claire Evans on her book Broad Band, how “female mental labor was the original information technology,” why women are often early adopters, and hypertext as narrative form.

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Sheila Levrant de Bretteville Riposte feature 2018

“I’m much more a connector than a resistor. But when push comes to shove, I’m definitely a resistor.” A visit to the circular home of Sheila Levrant de Bretteville to talk about the Woman's Building in L.A., the shortcomings of the second wave, and design pedagogy seeped in activism. For Riposte magazine in London.

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Spelling Spelling The Serving Library essay 2018

An essay for The Serving Library’s Translation issue on the 19th century attempt to create a universal language by Alexander Melville Bell and the resulting alphabet of cryptic, otherworldly symbols codifying the articulation of speech sounds. Also includes: the Blue Ridge Mountains, Fran Ross’ Oreo, the placelessness of written speech, and the commendable effort to translate all the various "shades of sound."

From the Google books scan of *Visible Speech: The Science of Universal Alphabetics* by Alexander Melville Bell...

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The Feminist Whole Earth Catalog Eye on Design feature 2018

In 2018, I tracked down Susan Rennie and Kirsten Grimstad, the makers of the 1973 The New Women’s Survival Catalog, which I could find almost no information about besides a PDF of the book online. Susan and Kirsten spoke to me from their home in California about driving across the country in two months, visiting hundreds of feminist activist groups, from self-help divorce co-ops to publishers, health centers, and day cares. Part directory, part manual, the book that resulted from the trip they billed as the “feminist Whole Earth Catalog” that they hoped would create “some kind of nation-wide network of feminist alternative culture.” Two years after this interview was published, The New Women’s Survival Catalog has been republished by Primary Information for a new generation.

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On grids, graphs, and reigning in the chaos Quartz essay 2017

An essay for Quartz about the origins of graph paper—which sounds kind of boring until you think about how much of the world we order into tiny squares, from pixels to prison cells to the longitudinal and latitudinal coordinates.

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Interview with Rachel Rosenfelt Are.na interview 2017

"When people think the stakes are high, they’re like ‘How could you have the conceit to start a magazine and act like it’s real?’ and I’m like ‘No, but no magazines are real!’"

An interview for the Are.na blog with Rachel Rosenfelt, founder of The New Inquiry, on what it means to run an Internet magazine versus a magazine 'that you put on the Internet.'

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Maintenance as Art Are.na essay 2017

For the Are.na blog, an essay on Merle Laderman Ukeles, who was an artist-and-resident at New York City’s Department of Sanitation for three decades, on how her work drew a parallel between private domestic work and low-paying public maintenance work. Her Work Ballets, in which excavators, dump trucks, and street sweepers become graceful beings, bowing to commune with the ground, regarding each other curiously, or weaving in-between each other in a choreographed street dance, are some of my favorite pieces of art ever.

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On Seeing and Being Seen Eye on Design Essay 2017

For Eye on Design issue one, themed Invisible, an essay on Alvin Lustig, who designed blind in his last years of life, and Elaine Lustig Cohen, who served as his eyes and hands before becoming a well-known designer in her own right. “I always say that either I would have remained this shy, unproductive person, or I would have grown up and divorced [Alvin] if he hadn’t died. I don’t know, because the person that I became would have never put up with what I was doing. But we’ll never know.”

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The Best Female Characters Come From Books The Atlantic feature 2016

For The Atlantic, an article that explores how the representation of women in books and films is effected by the gender makeup of the industries that produce them.

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