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Substance on the web

An expert in digital communications discusses the importance of a reputation founded upon substance, not just on appearances

The globalisation of communication, and therefore of knowledge, and even more so, of images. Both humans and non-humans – and therefore production organisations and machines – have to contend with the absolute interconnection of tools for information and communication, whether they like it or not. This is what we call the infosphere, and is the subject, as the title suggests, of a book written by Daniele Chieffi, on the basis of his experiences in the field of digital communication, in both the public and private spheres.

La reputazione ai tempi dell’infosfera. Cos’è, come si costruisce, come si difende (“Reputation in the era of the infosphere: what it is, how it is built, and how to defend it”)

begins with a statement of fact: in this day and age, we live in an infosphere where everyone – both human and non-human – is interconnected and interdependent, with accessible information, immediate communication and judgements and opinions that are entirely visible. However, the author draws his reader’s attention to a particular aspect of this inter-connection – namely, the fact that individuals and institutions, companies and the media are on the same level, and are all equally and inevitably subject to collective value judgements. Reputation, therefore, is a crucial aspect, and one which involves everyone in one way or another; this is the theme that Chieffi explores over around 150 pages of enjoyable reading.

The text begins with the observation that while reputation follows the psychological, cognitive and sociological rules of human groups, these are modified and amplified by digital dynamics. As such, the first and second sections of the book explain the concept of reputation, in the absence of the “megaphone” of the digital sphere, before going on to explore what this becomes when the digitisation and globalisation of information enters the lives of people and social constructs. This is the “glass house” that we have found ourselves in, and to which the notion of reputation must be adapted.

The third part of the book addresses the creation and subsequent management of reputation in the era of the infosphere. Here, among other things, Chieffi considers how reputation has become the main strategic tool for any subject, and looks at the rules of the infosphere that must be taken into account in order to avoid making mistakes. Web tactics and strategy, then, with practical indications of what should and shouldn’t be done. With a constant emphasis: appearing must not replace being. Chieffi writes the following in his conclusions: “The infosphere is a vast stage, the perfect glass house, where everything we do and say – or do not do and do not say – the way we present ourselves, the things that we show, either voluntarily or involuntarily, and what others see or think they see, is judged, evaluated and loaded with meaning. In order to build and defend a reputation – the only true value recognised by the infosphere – we must all strategically govern what is seen and the meaning it is given: we must stage every element perfectly, so that perceived reality coincides with actual reality. Appearing as we truly are, enhancing our identity and being an active, positive, constructive and fully accepted element of our social context is the goal of reputation management. Perfect staging is not tantamount to fabricating falsehoods, nor providing misleading or manipulative representations, but rather producing value for others: this is the ethical approach to reputation management”.

La reputazione ai tempi dell’infosfera. Cos’è, come si costruisce, come si difende (“Reputation in the era of the infosphere: what it is, how it is built, and how to defend it”)

Daniele Chieffi

Franco Angeli, 2020

An expert in digital communications discusses the importance of a reputation founded upon substance, not just on appearances

The globalisation of communication, and therefore of knowledge, and even more so, of images. Both humans and non-humans – and therefore production organisations and machines – have to contend with the absolute interconnection of tools for information and communication, whether they like it or not. This is what we call the infosphere, and is the subject, as the title suggests, of a book written by Daniele Chieffi, on the basis of his experiences in the field of digital communication, in both the public and private spheres.

La reputazione ai tempi dell’infosfera. Cos’è, come si costruisce, come si difende (“Reputation in the era of the infosphere: what it is, how it is built, and how to defend it”)

begins with a statement of fact: in this day and age, we live in an infosphere where everyone – both human and non-human – is interconnected and interdependent, with accessible information, immediate communication and judgements and opinions that are entirely visible. However, the author draws his reader’s attention to a particular aspect of this inter-connection – namely, the fact that individuals and institutions, companies and the media are on the same level, and are all equally and inevitably subject to collective value judgements. Reputation, therefore, is a crucial aspect, and one which involves everyone in one way or another; this is the theme that Chieffi explores over around 150 pages of enjoyable reading.

The text begins with the observation that while reputation follows the psychological, cognitive and sociological rules of human groups, these are modified and amplified by digital dynamics. As such, the first and second sections of the book explain the concept of reputation, in the absence of the “megaphone” of the digital sphere, before going on to explore what this becomes when the digitisation and globalisation of information enters the lives of people and social constructs. This is the “glass house” that we have found ourselves in, and to which the notion of reputation must be adapted.

The third part of the book addresses the creation and subsequent management of reputation in the era of the infosphere. Here, among other things, Chieffi considers how reputation has become the main strategic tool for any subject, and looks at the rules of the infosphere that must be taken into account in order to avoid making mistakes. Web tactics and strategy, then, with practical indications of what should and shouldn’t be done. With a constant emphasis: appearing must not replace being. Chieffi writes the following in his conclusions: “The infosphere is a vast stage, the perfect glass house, where everything we do and say – or do not do and do not say – the way we present ourselves, the things that we show, either voluntarily or involuntarily, and what others see or think they see, is judged, evaluated and loaded with meaning. In order to build and defend a reputation – the only true value recognised by the infosphere – we must all strategically govern what is seen and the meaning it is given: we must stage every element perfectly, so that perceived reality coincides with actual reality. Appearing as we truly are, enhancing our identity and being an active, positive, constructive and fully accepted element of our social context is the goal of reputation management. Perfect staging is not tantamount to fabricating falsehoods, nor providing misleading or manipulative representations, but rather producing value for others: this is the ethical approach to reputation management”.

La reputazione ai tempi dell’infosfera. Cos’è, come si costruisce, come si difende (“Reputation in the era of the infosphere: what it is, how it is built, and how to defend it”)

Daniele Chieffi

Franco Angeli, 2020