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About The Reputation Algorithm

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

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

Is This Newsletter For You?

Specifically, The Reptuation Algorithm newsletter is for senior-level communications professionals who are responsible for their organization’s reputation.

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

Likewise, this newsletter 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 The Reputation Algorithm 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 Newsletter Is Not

This newsletter is not about programming. While I 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

Let’s define our 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 nearly 30 years as a digital 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 online tools 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 nearly three 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.

About Me

My name is David Erickson. I work for Tunheim, a Minnesota-based public relations firm, as Director of Digital and Social Media.

For the past 30 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 three decades, I’ve built websites, conducted email outreach campaigns, participated in online forums, 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 newsletter is my effort to extract and share my thinking beyond my immediate colleagues at work or my professional peers over beers.

This newsletter 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,


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It's an algorithmic world and we're just living in it. David Erickson examines how digital platforms' algorithms influence and effect how our reputations as individuals and as organizations are perceived.


David Erickson

Strategic communications professional; digital marketing veteran; democracy fanboy; guitarist; Minnesota Vikings fanatic, plays with joy. I'm @derickson on Post, Spoutible, CounterSocial and on Mastodon