In general, my research focuses on the relationship between the histories of science, technology and the development of military theories, doctrines, and strategies. I currently have two general project areas. One area explores the way that the U.S. military has enlisted the help of concepts and metaphors from nonlinear sciences like chaos and complexity theories in their attempts to make sense of the Information Age. The other explores the growing use of new media technologies like blogging and social networking by the U.S. defense establishment, including military and intelligence agencies.
- Warfare Technologies
- Rhetoric of Science
- Qualitative Research Methods
- Propaganda studies
- Nonlinear Systems
- National Security
- Military Theory
- Military Sciences and Technology
- Military History
- Military Discourse
- International Security
- Information Warfare
- Information Security
- Critical discourse analysis
- Invited panelist, “Lessons for Cyber Strategy After the Ukraine War,” Brute Krulak Center for Innovation and Future Warfare, Marine Corps University. 31 March 2022. Other, Presented, 03/31/2022.
- Invited lecture w/ Robert W. Gehl, “Propaganda, Deception, and the Manipulation of Information,” Town Hall Seattle. 25 March 2022. https://townhallseattle.org/event/robert-w-gehl-and-sean-t-lawson/ .
- Sean Lawson & Robert W. Gehl, “Masspersonal Social Engineering: Manipulative Communication at the Intersections of Cyber and Information Operations,” Faculty Development Lecture, Marine Corps University, 9 March 2022. Invited Talk/Keynote, Presented, 02/09/2022.
- Robert W. Gehl and Sean Lawson, “A History of Social Engineering: From Mass to Interpersonal to Masspersonal,” invited presentation at Concordia University. Online. 2 December 2021. Invited Talk/Keynote, Presented, 12/2021.
- Invited talk, Sean Lawson and Robert W. Gehl, “Masspersonal Social Engineering: Manipulative Communication at the Intersections of Cyber and Information Operations,” Integrating Information in Joint Operations (U.S. Air Force Speaker Series), DoD Strategic Multilayer Assessment. Online. 18 February 2021. Invited Talk/Keynote, Presented, 02/2021.
- Avery E. Holton & Sean Lawson (2019, April). News from above 2.0: American drone journalism and FAA regulation. Journalism From Above Workshop. DEMICOM Research Center, Mid Sweden University. Sundsvall, Sweden. Conference Paper, Presented, 04/2019.
- Invited lecture, “Systems, Complexity & Networks in U.S. Military Thought: A Brief History,” U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) Strategic Multilayer Assessment (SMA) program. 26 March 2019.
- Respondent for "The Rhetorical Invention of America's (In)Security State," National Communication Association 103rd Annual Convention, November 16-19 in Dallas, TX. Other, Presented, 11/16/2017.
- Ray Dahl & Sean Lawson, "War by Design: The Enlistment of Design Thinking in the U.S. Army," presented at Critical Genealogies Workshop, Salt Lake City, UT, 15-16 September 2017. Conference Paper, Presented, 09/16/2017.
- Invited Participant, "Public Power - Public Data Workshop," Rutgers Institute for Information Policy & Law and Culture Digitally, Camden, NJ, 15 September 2017. Other, Presented, 09/15/2017.
- Invited Participant, "Cyber Conflict State of the Field Conference," Cyber Conflict Studies Association, Columbia University, 9 June 2017. Other, Other, 06/09/2017.
- "The Politics of Cyber Security Threats: Beyond Cyber-Doom Rhetoric," invited lecture at Center for Global Security Research, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, 7 May 2017. Invited Talk/Keynote, Presented, 05/17/2017.
- "Wipeout at The Edge of Chaos: Past Misappropriations and the Future of Nonlinear Science in Security Studies," presented at International Studies Association Annual Conference, Baltimore, MD, 24 February 2017. Conference Paper, Presented, 02/24/2017.
- Sean Lawson and Michael K. Middleton, “Cyber Pearl Harbor: Analogy, Fear, and the Framing of Cyber Security Threats in the United States, 1991-2016,” presented at “Legal and Policy Dimensions of Cybersecurity,” George Washington University, Washington, DC, September 27-29, 2016. Conference Paper, Refereed, Presented, 09/28/2016.
- Sean Lawson, Sara K. Yeo, Ethan Green, and Haoran Yu, “The Cyber-Doom Effect: The Impact of Fear Appeals in the U.S. Cyber Security Debate,” presented at 8th International Conference on Cyber Conflict, NATO Co-operative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence, Tallinn, Estonia, 1-3 June 2016. Conference Paper, Refereed, Presented, 06/02/2016.
- “The Politics of Cyber Security Threats: Beyond Cyber Doom Rhetoric,” invited lecture for Security and Resilience Studies, Northeastern University, Boston, MA, 23 April 2016. Invited Talk/Keynote, Presented, 04/23/2016.
- “Preventive War: Definitions, Rationales, and Challenges.” Presented to Prevention Regimes & Strategies Workshop, Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, CA, 15-17 August 2011. Conference Paper, Presented, 08/17/2011.
- Sean Lawson & Robert W. Gehl, “Convergence Security: Surveillance and the Biopolitical Production of Security.” Presented at Cyber-Surveillance in Everyday Life: An International Workshop, Toronto, Canada, 12-15 May 2011. Conference Paper, Presented, 05/13/2011.
- Nick Russell, Michael Middleton, Marouf Hasian, and Sean Lawson, “Flipping for Sides: Counterinsurgency Doctrines (COIN), President Obama’s ‘Long War’, and Debates about U.S. Military and Foreign Policy during the Afghanistan Campaign,” Presented at the National Communication Association annual conference, San Francisco, CA, Novermber 14-17, 2010. Conference Paper, Presented, 11/2010.
- Robert Gehl & Sean Lawson (2023). Social Engineering: How Crowdmasters, Phreaks, Hackers, and Trolls Created a New Form of Manipulative Communication . MIT Press. Published, 03/08/2023.
- Sean Lawson & Robert Gehl (forthcoming), “Masspersonal Social Engineering and the Evolution of the Influence Industry,” The Routledge Companion to the Influence Industry, Emma Briant & Vian Bakir (eds.), London: Routledge. Accepted, 07/2022.
- Sean Lawson & Robert Gehl, “Masspersonal Social Engineering and the Emergence of Individualized Information Warfare,” Georgetown Journal of International Affairs (online) (17 May 2022), https://gjia.georgetown.edu/2022/05/17/masspersonal-social-engineering-and-the-emergence-of-individualized-information-warfare/.
- Sean Lawson & Brandon Valeriano (2020). The Russian ‘Cyber Pearl Harbor’ That Wasn’t. The American Conservative.
- Sean Lawson (2020). Cybersecurity Discourse in the United States: Cyber-Doom Rhetoric and Beyond. Routledge. Published, 01/2020.
- Avery Holton, Sean Lawson, Jennifer Jackson & Debra Merskin (2020). "Drone Journalism," The SAGE International Encyclopedia of Mass Media and Society. (pp. 509-510). SAGE. Published, 01/2020.
- Sean Lawson (2019). What will be the effect of the latest US cyberattack on Iran?. Fifth Domain.
- Sean Lawson & Michael Middleton (2019). Is ‘Pearl Harbor’ still a valid cyber metaphor?. Fifth Domain.
- Sean Lawson, Michael Middleton, Bryan Taylor & Hamilton Bean (2019). "Communication Studies of/and Cybersecurity," The Routledge Handbook of Communication and Security. Routledge. Published, 07/2019.
- Sean Lawson (2017). "Online Data, Hacking of," SAGE Handbook of Communication Research Methods. SAGE. Published, 10/04/2017.
- Sean Lawson, Sara K. Yeo, Ethan Green, and Haoran Yu, “The Cyber-Doom Effect: The Impact of Fear Appeals in the U.S. Cyber Security Debate,” in N.Pissanidis, H.Rõigas, M.Veenendaal (Eds.), Proceedings of the 8th International Conference on Cyber Conflict: Cyber Power, pgs. 65-80 (IEEE & NATO CCDCOE Publications, 2016). Published, 07/01/2016.
- Brandon Valeriano, Heather Roff, and Sean Lawson, “Dropping the Cyber Bomb? Spectacular Claims and Unremarkable Effects,” Net Politics, 24 May 2016, http://blogs.cfr.org/cyber/2016/05/24/dropping-the-cyber-bomb-spectacular-claims-and-unremarkable-effects/.
- Brandon Valeriano, Heather Roff, and Sean Lawson, “Stop Saying We’re Dropping ‘Cyber Bombs’ On ISIS,” DefenseOne, 24 May 2016, http://www.defenseone.com/ideas/2016/05/stop-saying-were-dropping-cyber-bombs-isis/128581/.
- Sean Lawson and Avery Holton, "Testing Immersive Classroom Innovation With Drones," MediaShift.
- Lawson, S. (2014) Nonlinear Science and Warfare: Chaos, Complexity, and the U.S. Military in the Information Age, London: Routledge. Published, 11/2013.
- Lawson, S. (2013) “The US Military’s Social Media Civil War: Technology as Antagonism in Discourses of Information-Age Conflict,” Cambridge Review of International Affairs, OnlineFirst. Published, 03/2013.
- “Beyond Cyber-Doom: Assessing the Limits of Hypothetical Scenarios in the Framing of Cyber-Threats,” Journal of Information Technology & Politics OnlineFirst, (2013), http://www.tandfonline.com/eprint/pUBMQciDdf4dqhhNckU9/full.
- "Is the United States Militarizing Cyberspace?," Net Assessment (Forbes.com), (11/02/2012).
- "DHS Secretary Napolitano Uses Hurricane Sandy to Hype Cyber Threat," Net Assessment (Forbes.com), (11/01/2012).
- "Anonymous Sources Provide No Evidence of Iran Cyber Attacks," Net Assessment (Forbes.com), (10/31/2012).
- "Of Cyber Doom, Dots, and Distractions," Net Assessment (Forbes.com), (10/16/2012).
- “Beyond Cyber-Doom: Cyberattack Scenarios and the Evidence of History,” in Cyber Warfare: Critical Perspectives, Paul Ducheine, Frans Osinga, and Joseph Soeters (eds.) (The Hague, The Netherlands: Asser Press, 2012): 276-307. Published, 09/2012.
- “Gameplay Mode: War, Simulation, and Technoculture (Review),” IEEE Annals of the History of Computing. 34(3) 2012: 67-68. Published, 08/2012.
- "Cyberwarfare Treaty Would Be Premature, Unnecessary, and Ineffective," U.S. News & World Report (06/08/2012).
- "Cyber Threat Projection and the Insider Threat: Stuxnet Edition," Net Assessment (Forbes.com), (06/02/2012).
- "Are All CISPA Supporters What They Appear to Be?," Net Assessment (Forbes.com), (04/23/2012). http://www.forbes.com/sites/seanlawson/2012/04/23/are-all-cispa-supporters-what-they-appear-to-be/.
- “U.S. Cybersecurity Debate Risks Leaving Critical Infrastructure in the Dark,” Net Assessment (Forbes.com), (11 February 2012), http://www.forbes.com/sites/seanlawson/2012/02/11/u-s-cybersecurity-debate-risks-leaving-critical-infrastructure-in-the-dark/.
- “OpCartel Focuses on North Caroline District Attorney,” Net Assessment (Forbes.com), (7 November 2011), http://www.forbes.com/sites/seanlawson/2011/11/07/opcartel-focuses-on-north-carolina-district-attorney/.
- “OpCartel, a Name Emerges,” Net Assessment (Forbes.com), (5 November 2011), http://www.forbes.com/sites/seanlawson/2011/11/05/opcartel-a-name-emerges/.
- “Phantom Cyber Wars are a Distraction,” Net Assessment (Forbes.com), (4 November 2011), http://www.forbes.com/sites/seanlawson/2011/11/04/phantom-cyber-wars-are-a-distraction/.
- “Cyber War and the Expanding Definition of War,” Net Assessment (Forbes.com), (26 October 2011), http://www.forbes.com/sites/seanlawson/2011/10/26/cyber-war-and-the-expanding-definition-of-war/.
- “DOD Cyber Strategy Remains Ambiguous on Threats and Responses,” Net Assessment (Forbes.com), (5 August 2011), http://www.forbes.com/sites/seanlawson/2011/08/05/dod-cyber-strategy-remains-ambiguous-on-threats-and-responses/.
- “A Domain Like Cyberspace,” Net Assessment (Forbes.com), (4 August 2011), http://www.forbes.com/sites/seanlawson/2011/08/04/a-domain-like-cyberspace/.
- “DOD Cyberspace Strategy is Too Narrow, Too Negative,” Net Assessment (Forbes.com), (3 August 2011), http://www.forbes.com/sites/seanlawson/2011/08/03/dod-cyberspace-strategy-is-too-narrow-too-negative/.
- “DOD’s ‘First’ Cyber Strategy is Neither First, Nor a Strategy,” Net Assessment (Forbes.com), (1 August 2011), http://www.forbes.com/sites/seanlawson/2011/08/01/dods-first-cyber-strategy-is-neither-first-nor-a-strategy/.
- “Surfing on the Edge of Chaos: Nonlinear Science and the Emergence of a Doctrine of Preventive War in the United States,” Social Studies of Science. 41(4) 2011: 563-584. Published, 08/2011.
- “Anonymous Claims to Have Hacked Defense Contractor ManTech,” Net Assessment (Forbes.com), (29 July 2011), http://www.forbes.com/sites/seanlawson/2011/07/29/anonymous-claims-to-have-hacked-defense-contractor-mantech/.
- “Denial of Service: Sin-in? No. Protest? Yes.” Net Assessment (Forbes.com), (1 July 2011), http://www.forbes.com/sites/seanlawson/2011/07/01/denial-of-service-sit-in-no-protest-yes/.
- “Cyber Attack Breaches, Takes Offline DOE Y12 National Security Complex,” Net Assessment (Forbes.com), (13 June 2011), http://www.forbes.com/sites/seanlawson/2011/06/13/cyber-attack-breaches-takes-offline-doe-y12-national-security-complex-website/.
- “Richard Clarke Responds to Administration Cybersecurity Proposals,” Net Assessment (Forbes.com), (3 June 2011), http://www.forbes.com/sites/seanlawson/2011/06/03/richard-clarke-responds-to-administration-cybersecurity-proposals/.
- “Cyberwar Hype Comes Under Increasing Scrutiny,” Net Assessment (Forbes.com), (28 April 2011), http://www.forbes.com/sites/seanlawson/2011/04/28/cyberwar-hype-comes-under-increasing-scrutiny/.
- “Where is the ‘Public Awareness’ in the Cyber Security Public Awareness Act?” Net Assessment (Forbes.com), (26 April 2011), http://www.forbes.com/sites/seanlawson/2011/04/26/where-is-the-public-awareness-in-the-cyber-security-public-awareness-act/.
- “HBGary Hearts Apple,” Net Assessment (Forbes.com), (22 February 2011), http://www.forbes.com/sites/seanlawson/2011/02/22/hbgary-hearts-apple/.
- “Articulation, Antagonism, and Intercalation in Military Imaginaries,” Security Dialogue. 42(1) 2011. Published, 02/2011.
- “Beyond Cyber-Doom: Cyberattack Scenarios and the Evidence of History,” Working Paper (No. 11-01), Mercatus Center, George Mason University. (January 2011), http://mercatus.org/publication/beyond-cyber-doom.
- "Cold War Military Systems Science and the Emergence of a Nonlinear View of War in the U.S. Military," Cold War History. 11(3) 2011: 421-440.