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Howard Rheingold

Howard Rheingold is a prolific writer, thinker, lecturer, gardener, and shoe painter. A few of his many books include Higher Creativity, Virtual Reality, The Virtual Community, and Smart Mobs. He was one of the early inhabitants and leaders of THE WELL, a well-known pioneering "computer conferencing" system, which led to him being credited with inventing the term "virtual community". Howard was also the first Executive Editor of HotWired magazine. He has lectured at the University of California, Berkeley, Stanford, and De Montfort University in the United Kingdom.

Some of Howard's Webinars

Presented by Howard Rheingold Tuesday, March 20, 2012
3:30 - 4:30 PM EDT

Q & A with Howard Rheingold

What are your favorite books and authors?

At age 16, watching what was then called "educational TV" in Phoenix, Arizona in the early 1960s, I came across a channel in which a man in a kimono was saying nothing, not even moving. Eventually, he took a sip of tea and started talking. It was Alan Watts. I went to the bookstore to buy his books and on the same shelf was the Tao te Ching, which I've read a couple times a year ever since. I especially like Ursula K. Leguin's translation.

The teacher who had the biggest impact on me and why:

At Madison elementary school in Phoenix, Arizona in the late 1950s, problem students like me were often sent to the art teacher’s room. Unfortunately for me, my objection to sitting in a little desk, arranged in little rows, then moving to another room full of desks in rows when a loud bell rang, made me a problem student. Fortunately for me, the art teacher was my mother. After the pin-drop quiet, pin-neat order of our home-rooms, the happy chaos of Mrs. Rheingold’s room was like travelling to an altogether different dimension. Mrs. Rheingold’s philosophy of teaching art was that all human beings are creative innovators, have a need to express ourselves creatively, but many - most - people are shut down at an early age. Someone looks at the page you are happily scribbling and tells you that your horse doesn’t look like a horse, and you decide to leave art to specialists. Mrs. Rheingold didn’t teach technique. She gave permission to play. So I never bothered much with drawing horses that look like horses. 

Do you have a motto you live by?

When I started facilitating an online conference on the WELL in 1985, I chose "What it is-->is-->up to us" as the conference motto. Soon thereafter, I started using it as my email signature, and still do.