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Reputation Volatility: the political economy of cyberwar
Anna Engelhardt & Emily Rosamond

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In the five years since Russia interfered in the US elections, cyberwar has continued to permeate digital platforms. Unfolding on social media, this mode of combat is governed by private companies rather than sovereign nations. The Facebook Papers, by revealing how the platform is wired for misinformation, illustrate how it operates as a digital battleground where conflict generates revenue. Therefore, to engage with the logic of cyberwar, we must examine the market rules the platforms obey.

In her work, Emily Rosamond provides a unique perspective on the political economy of cyberwar. She proposes that there has been a broader shift, from the paradigm of 'reputation capital', in which users gradually accumulate reputation, to the one of 'reputation volatility', where both loss and gain are equally likely outcomes. According to Rosamond, 'reputation volatility' brings forward the new type of 'reputation warfare,' in which strategic actors capitalize on the volatility of online reputations.

In the interview, Anna Engelhardt invites Rosamond to elaborate on the key economic principles of reputation warfare. In particular, Engelhardt will connect Rosamond’s thinking with the understanding of cyberwar as an economic enterprise, as analysed by Svitlana Matvyienko and Nick Dyer-Witherford in their 2019 book Cyberwar and Revolution.

About the speakers: Emily Rosamond is Lecturer in Visual Cultures at Goldsmiths, University of London, where she serves as Department Chair of Learning and Teaching. Her recent publications have appeared in Theory, Culture & Society, Journal of Cultural Economy, Journal of Aesthetics & Culture, among others; and she is an Associate Editor of the academic journal Finance and Society. Her forthcoming monograph, Reputation Warfare, explores volatility in online ranking and ratings.

Anna Engelhardt is a Russian media artist and writer whose research-based practice explores post-Soviet infrastructures as a form of politics. Her most recent project, Circuits of Truth (2021), explores cyberwar from the perspective of user verification. Anna's writings have been published in Mute Magazine, Strelka Magazine, Journal of Visual Culture. She has presented her work at Venice Architecture Biennale, Moscow Biennale for Young Art, Kyiv Biennial.

This interview is a part of the public program forThe Green Room, a two-person exhibition with artworks by Anna Engelhardt and Bahar Noorizadeh curated by Reem Shadid running until 11 November.

Click here to register for the online event at 6pm on Friday 5 November

The interview will be streamed live on YouTube