Howard Rheingold may well have been the first pioneer to fall down into the chasm of cyberspace and the write about it. As Editor of the Whole Earth Review, following in the footsteps of founder Stewart Brand, he has consistently been on the bleeding edge of both righteous living for a Whole Earth, and the bleeding edge of technology and the human mind. Below are links to his books, the first of which, Tools for Thinking, catalyzed deep soul-searching within the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) which at the time (1986) had nothing to offer such as Howard envisioned. He was, with John Perry Barlow, one of the two speakers at OSS ’92 who challenged virtually every aspect of the secret intelligence paradigm.
Describes the Techno-Powered Popular Revolution,
Finally, the author deserves major credit for putting all this techno-marvel stuff into a deep sociological and cultural context. He carefully considers the major issues of privacy, control, social responsibility, and group behavior. He ends on very positive notes, but also notes that time is running out–we have to understand where all this is going, and begin to change how we invest and how we design everything from our clothing to our cities to our governments.
This is an affirming book–the people that pay taxes can still look forward to the day when they might take back control of their government and redirect benefits away from special interests and back toward the commonwealth. Smart mobs, indeed.
Rheingold 10, Gates 0,
Howard Rheingold, former Editor of the Whole Earth Review and one of the pure-gold original thinkers in the Stewart Brand and Kevin Kelly circle, lays down a serious challange to both decisionmakers and software producers that has yet to be fully understood. Originally published in 1985, this book was a “must read” at the highest levels of advanced information processing circles then, but sadly its brilliant and coherent message has yet to take hold–largely because bureaucratic budgets and office politics are major obstacles to implementing new models where the focus is on empowering the employee rather than crunching financial numbers.
This book is a foundation reading for understanding why the software Bill Gates produces (and the Application Program Interfaces he persists in concealing) will never achieve the objectives that Howard and others believe are within our grasp–a desktop toolkit that not only produces multi-media documents without crashing ten times a day, but one that includes modeling & simulation, structured argument analysis, interactive search and retrieval of the deep web as well as commercial online systems, and geospatially-based heterogeneous data set visualization–and more–the desktop toolkit that emerges logically from Howard’s vision must include easy clustering and linking of related data across sets, statistical analysis to reveal anomalies and identify trends in data across time, space, and topic, and a range of data conversion, machine language translation, analog video management, and automated data extraction from text and images. How hard can this be? VERY HARD. Why? Because no one is willing to create a railway guage standard in cyberspace that legally mandates the transparency and stability of Application Program Interfaces (API). Rheingold gets it, Gates does not. What a waste!
Prophet of Electronic Power to the People,
Sacred and Scary Reflections on Neo-Biologicial Civilization,