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Howard Rheingold


I'm Howard, the Rheingold of Rheingold Associates. My background is in technology writing, which led me to my first encounters with virtual community. In 1983, I interviewed several of the people who were instrumental in creating the ARPAnet. The 1985 book that resulted from those interviews, Tools for Thought, included a chapter about the future of online communities. I participated in The Source and BBSs prior to joining the Well, arguably the world's most famous virtual community, in 1985.

According to the Princeton librarian who did an exhaustive search, the first published reference to virtual communities was my 1988 article in Whole Earth Review, "Virtual Communities." In 1990, I created the first Usenet newsgroup about virtual reality. My next book, The Virtual Community, published in 1993, was the first work about the phenomenon of social communication in cyberspace.

I served as an online host for the Well since 1985, and sat on the Well Board of Directors. In 1994, I was the founding Executive Editor of HotWired, the first commercial webzine with a virtual community known as Threads. In 1995, I was on the planning committee for the creation of The River, and one of its founding members and hosts. I founded and launched Electric Minds in 1996 -- a webzine with a web-conference-based virtual community of 70,000 registered users. Electric Minds was named one of the ten best websites of 1996 by Time magazine. Electric Minds created, launched, and managed a web-based virtual community for IBM to accompany the Kasparov-Deep Blue II chess match of 1997. I now run a private community, Brainstorms.

A new edition of The Virtual Community was published by the MIT Press in November, 2000.


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