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Howard Rheingold

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Howard Rheingold at the Ars Electronica in 2004

Howard Rheingold (born July 7, 1947) is a leading thinker on the cultural, social and political implications of modern communications media such as the Internet, mobile telephony and virtual communities (a term he is credited with inventing).

Rheingold was born to Geraldine and Nathan Rheingold in Phoenix, Arizona. He attended Reed College in Portland Oregon, from 1964 to 1968. His senior thesis was entitled "What Life Can Compare with This? Sitting Alone at the Window, I Watch the Flowers Bloom, the Leaves Fall, the Seasons Come and Go."

A lifelong fascination with mind-altering and its methods lead Rheingold to the Institute of Noetic Sciences and Xerox PARC. There he worked on and wrote about the earliest personal computers. This lead to his writing Tools for Thought in 1985, a history of the people behind the personal computer. Around that time he first logged onto The WELL - an influential early online community. He explored the experience in his seminal book The Virtual Community.

After a stint editing the Whole Earth Review, Rheingold served as editor in chief of the Millennium Whole Earth Catalog. Shortly thereafter, he was hired on as founding executive editor of HotWired, one of the first commercial content web sites published in 1994 by Wired Magazine. Rheingold left Hotwired and soon founded Electric Minds in 1996 to chronicle and promote the growth of community online. Electric Minds, like so many other San Francisco-based Internet Startups, quickly depleted its VC funds and stands as one of the most spectacular Internet flame-outs of its era. Despite accolades, the site was sold and scaled back in 1997.

In 2002, Rheingold published Smart Mobs, exploring the potential for technology to augment collective intelligence. Shortly thereafter, in conjunction with the Institute for the Future, Rheingold launched an effort to develop a broad-based literacy of cooperation.

Rheingold lives in Mill Valley, California with his wife and daughter.

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