Digital Reputation Economy

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* Article: Structuring feeling: Web 2.0, online ranking and rating, and the digital ‘reputation’ economy. Alison Hearn. Special issue of Ephemera on Digital Labour. volume 10(3/4): 421-438



"Blogging, twittering, facebooking, posting videos on youtube, providing feedback on newspaper articles online or rating restaurants or hotels on tripadvisor, are often seen to be positive elements in the development of the digital public sphere. Academics and human resources experts alike laud the ways in which these activities contribute to the increasing circulation of ‘social capital’ or ‘reputation’, which we can see as a new form of currency and, more generally, value. This paper will examine these claims about the emerging economy in reputation, focusing specifically on the ways reputation has historically been defined and understood and how it is currently being aggregated, measured, structured and represented by specific business interests online. It will consider the uses to which these ratings, lists, scores and other forms of overt reputation building are being put and discuss whether they constitute forms of free labour.

In the end, it will conclude that these practices herald a form of market discipline and affective conditioning, which, much like other more traditional kinds of value generation such as branding, function to direct human meaning-making and self-identity in highly motivated and profitable ways."