About The Reputation Algorithm

This site is about how algorithms are shaping our reputations, both as individuals and as organizations.

This site is for anyone who is interested in how computer programs are affecting how we as individuals and how the organizations to which we belong are perceived by others.

Is This Site For You?

Specifically, this site is for senior-level communications professionals who are responsible for their organization’s reputation.

This site is for individuals who want to understand how their own personal reputation or brand is influenced by their online behavior and how that can have a positive or negative effect on their careers.

This site is for parents of young children who are thinking about their kids’ use of online communication tools and how they may present themselves to the world.

Likewise, this site is for the parents of teenagers who are concerned about how their teens’ online behavior can influence their prospects for getting into the college of their choice and landing a quality job after they graduate.

The intent of this site is to help you think about the factors that contribute how algorithms understand and therefore present you or your organization to the wider world.

What This Site Is Not

This site is not about programming. While it may from time to time address certain programming concepts, those concepts are discussed in a way for the non-programmer to understand.

What You Need To Know Before You Start

But let’s define the terms at the outset so we’re on the same page.

What is an algorithm? According to Wikipedia, an algorithm is “a self-contained step-by-step set of operations to be performed. Algorithms perform calculation, data processing, and/or automated reasoning tasks.”

For our purposes, simply put, the algorithms we’ll discuss are those that decide what information we see online. And more specifically, how those algorithms shape our perceptions and attitudes of what we see online.

I have spent more than 20 years as an online marketing professional. During that time I have had to pay close attention to how the tools we use daily on the web work. I have had to understand and pay attention to how they consume the information we provide, how they process that information and what they do with it.

While I can’t tell you the secret sauce of exactly how Google chooses to list one link over another in search results or why Facebook promotes one status update over another (they don’t publish their algorithms for obvious competitive reasons), I can help you think about how they likely work based on logic and more than two decades of experience.

About the title of this site: There is no single “Reputation Algorithm” to rule them all, as Tolkien might have it. The phrase is my shorthand for the effect these programs have on our perception of the world.

My Credentials

My name is David Erickson. I work for Minneapolis public relations firm Karwoski & Courage as vice president of online marketing.

For the past 21 years I have spent most of my days devising and executing online marketing strategies for both pay and for play.

I was doing “search optimization” back when the Yahoo! directory was the default home page of Netscape, the dominant browser in 1995 by “optimizing” directory listings for websites so they’d be more easily found for appropriate terms when people searched the Yahoo! directory.

During the following two decades, I’ve built websites, conducted email outreach campaigns, participated in online forums and listservs, published eNewsletters and built followings on social sites.

I’ve built eCommerce sites and dealt with the effects of negative online reviews.

I’ve blogged and podcasted and marketed videos; I’ve run online advertising campaigns and dug deep into the analytics of all of them.

I’ve intensely scrutinized how people behave online and I’ve studied how information flows through and is consumed at the sites and tools we use to communicate and to learn.

Through the years and my experiences, the notion of a Reputation Algorithm has begun to take shape in my mind. This blog is my effort to extract and share my thinking beyond my immediate colleagues at work or my professional peers over beers.

This site is an experiment. When I’m finished saying all I have to say on this subject, I plan to package the contents into a book. During the process, I hope to share what I know and learn from my readers own experiences and knowledge, and, perhaps, incorporate that into the book as well.

Thanks for your interest,

David