If I had to sum up the deepest and most consistent concerns in my communications in writing and other media over the years, it is the desire to elevate the level of discourse about technology in our lives, and to find practical answers to the challenges and pitfalls our tool use poses.
Articles By Howard
I was asked by New School to write something — my assessment of the current threats to the public sphere.
Interview with MacArthur Foundation Digital Media and Learning Project.
Article for The Atlantic
Mobile Media and Political Collective Action, Handbook of Mobile Communication Studies (May, 2008)
This chapter was contributed to a volume published by The MIT Press, about the use of mobile phones and SMS in organizing political collective action worldwide.
Mindful Disconnection: Counterpowering the Panopticon from the Inside, with Eric Kluitenberg (2006)
Often cast as a cheerleader, I do consider myself a technology enthusiast, but not an uncritical one.
A chapter from an MIT Press book. Political smartmobs circa 2005
My collaboration with Institute for the Future
38 articles for The Feature (2001-2005) (arranged as a Pearltree)
An online zine sponsored by Nokia covered social and cultural aspects of mobile media: “Mobile Phones, Ritual Interaction, and Social Capital,” “Mobile and Open: A Manifesto,” “Smartmobbing Disaster Relief” are a few examples of these pieces.
Look Who’s Talking, Wired, (July, 2001)
In the Spring of 2001, I spent a couple of weeks in Amish country, talking to Amish about their use of mobile phone technology. They have a time-tested and surprisingly nuanced social system for assessing technologies and deciding whether or how to use them.
Comments on Intelligent Agents Rheingold.com (1998)
I wrote this article in response to John Brockman’s interview with Pattie Maes and her support of the Open Profiling Standard. I also write about intelligent agents and suggest that we consider the implications of the technological tools that we create.
Technology 101: What Do We Need To Know About The Future We’re Creating? Rheingold.com (1998)
In this series of web pages I write about my background, interests and reasons for studying the evolution of, the present use of and the future of technology.
In the sixteen years between my first and most recent collaborations with IONS, I was associated with Xerox PARC, the Whole Earth Catalog, and the online arm of Wired magazine, wrote a syndicated column about technology, even started up an Internet company. Lately, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about technology in terms of three questions: Where are we going? Do we really want to go there? Is there anything we can do about it? Originally appeared in Institute of Noetic Sciences Review.
Electric Minds (1996)
The archives of the original site, minus the threaded conversations, still exist. In 1995-96, I contracted entrepreneurs’ disease. Convinced that the web needed to become more social, rather than strictly a publishing medium, I was also convinced that people’s online conversations, if facilitated properly, could be refined into publishable content. The idea was to combine what is now known as “user-generated content” with what are now known as “social media.” We would publish editorially curated articles and columns about technology and digital culture, people would have conversations about that material, and the conversations could be selected and reworked by our editors. Contributors to conversations that were converted into published articles would share in the revenues. Time magazine named us one of the ten best websites of 1996, but we depended on humans to sell advertising (this was three years before Google existed), and we were out of business by 1997. It was a huge education for me. First, I learned that being ten years too early with user generated content and social media was financially disastrous. Second, I learned that you CAN give a venture capitalist a plan on a single sheet of paper and they will give you millions of dollars, but they want tens of millions in return (in fact, I learned that it’s better to ask for tens of millions for that reason), and if you don’t return their investment quickly enough, they can kick the legs out from under your venture, sell your office equipment, and put you out of business. I didn’t do another startup. I learned that the art of management in digital enterprises is beyond me: You can get a finance person, a designer, a software engineer, a marketing person together and agree on something, and war will break out between them an hour later because each of these specialties have different definitions for common English terms. People who can orchestrate these specialties are talented. I learned that many intellectuals who have not had to meet a payroll (or fail to meet a payroll) have an uninformed contempt for commerce, conflating mom and pop operations with multinational corporations.
Taming Technology Rheingold.com (1994)
“What we need badly right now is a way for more and more people to see, understand, and decide collectively, through our discussions and our buying and voting decisions, exactly which trade-offs we are willing to make in return for technological conveniences.”
“If you want to maintain independence in the era of large institutions and think fresh thoughts in the age of mass media, you are going to need good tools. Since 1968, Whole Earth Catalogs have transformed the world, one person at a time, by introducing world-changers to world-changing tools.”
Howard Rheingold Selected Reviews: Hand’s End Rheingold.com (1994)
In this article I review the book Hand’s End: Technology and the Limits of Nature by David Rothenberg published in 1994 by University of California Press. Whenever I am inclined to think of technology as outside nature, I look at my hand and wiggle my fingers. Technology is built into who we are.
Howard Rheingold Selected Reviews: Great Mambo Chicken Rheingold.com (1993)
In this article I review the book Great Mambo Chicken & The Transhuman Condition: Science Slightly Over The Edge by Ed Regis published in 1990 by Addison-Wesley, an incisive, funny, and prescient look at the transhumanists, who are not only still with us, but who have evolved side-branch of singularitarians.
Howard Rheingold Selected Reviews: Art and Physics Rheingold.com (1991)
In this article I review the book Art and Physics: Parallel Visions in Space, Time, & Light by Leonard Shlain published in October 1991 by William Morrow & Company. My friend Leonard Shlain was a great lateral thinker who loved to weave together strands of historical, biological, and scholarly evidence into surprising frameworks for thinking about why the world is the way it is. This was his first. The San Francisco Chronicle sent it to me to review, years before I met Shlain. I gave it a deserved glowing review. When we met, how could he not love me? We took many a walk in the Marin hills, talking about everything in the universe, before he died in 2009.
Howard Rheingold Selected Reviews: Disappearing Through the Skylight Rheingold.com (1991)
In this article I review the book Disappearing Through the Skylight: Culture and Technology in the Twentieth Century by O. B. Hardison published in December 1989 by Viking Press.
Articles and Interviews about Howard
Gardner Campbell Interviews Howard about Doug Engelbart (February 24, 2019)
Howard Rheingold and Tom Serres Discuss Fake News and The Real Politics of Technology (February 14, 2017)
Technology overload? Amish provide lesson in adaptation by John Creighton (July 13, 2011)
The writer picks up on my Wired article about the Amish ten years later to ask questions about technology in life in 2011
Interview with Howard Rheingold, eLearn magazine (February 2010)
“I think the opportunities for individual reflection certainly have been diminished because of all the things that we can do during all those times that were formerly down time. I think that’s a matter of concern, for reflection is an important part of every spiritual tradition.”
Full interview with Howard Rheingold Spark, CBC Radio (January 23, 2008)
“Nora’s interview with Smart Mobs author Howard Rheingold will air as part of Spark’s episode on collaboration on February 8, 2008. You can listen to the full interview above, or download the MP3.”
Sack the net nanny, talk to your kids The Sydney Morning Herald (September 25, 2007)
“Author and academic Howard Rheingold (pictured) says parents should educate rather than censor their children.”
Howard Rheingold on Participation Versus Control by Scott Rosenberg (May, 2007)
Scott Rosenberg was one of the earliest print journalists to really understand what the Internet meant, starting when he was a reporter for the San Francisco Examiner in the early 1990s, continuing when he was one of the founders of Salon in the mid-nineties, and as a blogger ever since.
Howard Rheingold about our mobile world Emerging Technology Trends zdnet.com (July 20, 2006)
“Howard Rheingold is the well-known author of Smart Mobs and many other books describing the evolution of our societies. … As one of the futurologists who can detect the emerging technology trends behind our daily lives, I wanted to know what Howard is thinking in 2006. And he was kind enough to agree for an interview which was conducted by e-mail in mid-June. Below are large excerpts from our exchange.”
The world’s a cell-phone stage SFGate (February 27, 2006)
“‘I don’t think there is a precedent for something that has spread so quickly around the world to so many individuals; we’re talking about 2 billion phones around the world,’ said Howard Rheingold, digital journalism professor at Stanford and author of ‘Smart Mobs.'”
Videos of Howard
Institute for the Future hosts art show and talk by Howard Rheingold, introduced by Mamie Rheingold, followed by conversation with Fred Turner
Howard’s Next Chapter (2015)
A Stanford student made this short video upon my retirement.
Two Danish filmmakers, Katja Gry and Allen Alfred, interviewed me about network awareness.
Smartmobs Revisited, Mobile Monday, Amsterdam (June 1, 2009)
“In 2002, Rheingold published Smart Mobs, exploring the potential for technology to augment collective intelligence. Now, 7 years later, Howard revisits for the first time the points he made in the book and checks what has and has not happened.”
I was interviewed briefly (3 minutes) after talking to the Global Media Forum about media, cooperation, collective action, and smart mobs.
The Future and What it Holds (July 2, 2008)
Robin Good interviewed me about the future of technology.