Josh Lauer can discuss issues and trends in advertising, mass media, consumer culture, and surveillance. His historical studies of communication technology, surveillance, and financial culture have appeared in Technology and Culture, New Media & Society, and several edited collections.
In his book "Creditworthy," the first comprehensive history of this crucial American institution, he explores the evolution of credit reporting from its nineteenth-century origins to the rise of the modern consumer data industry. By revealing the sophistication of early credit reporting networks, "Creditworthy" highlights the leading role that commercial surveillance has played — ahead of state surveillance systems — in monitoring the economic lives of Americans. Mr. Lauer charts how credit reporting grew from an industry that relied on personal knowledge of consumers to one that employs sophisticated algorithms to determine a person's trustworthiness. Ultimately, he argues that by converting individual reputations into brief written reports — and, later, credit ratings and credit scores—credit bureaus did something more profound: they invented the modern concept of financial identity.