38 Articles by Howard Rheingold from
The Feature Archives (2001-2005)

Mobile Phones, Ritual Interaction and Social Capital
By Howard Rheingold, Thu Apr 21, 2005

One scientist who observes the way people use mobile phones suspects "mobile telephone communication seems to be better at developing the social fabric than does PC-based Internet interaction." But, he cautions, the new fabric might be too tightly knit in some ways.

Email, Scale-Free Networks, and the Mobile Internet
By Howard Rheingold, Thu Apr 07, 2005

Using e-mail rather than SMS as the messaging medium for mobile phones has made mobile Internet services in Japan more successful than in the West, says an industry expert -- a claim supported by recently discovered mathematical properties of networks.

Farmers, Phones and Markets: Mobile Technology In Rural Development
By Howard Rheingold, Tue Feb 15, 2005

What would a small-scale farmer in Africa, Peru or India want with a mobile phone or a Wi-Fi kiosk? Market information. Timely knowledge about who is buying potatoes today, what the buyers are willing to pay and where they are located can be vitally important to those who are just getting by.

LunarStorm: Sweden's Youthful, Increasingly Mobile Virtual Community
By Howard Rheingold, Thu Feb 03, 2005

If those cool-hunters who hang out in Harajuku and Harlem don't speak Swedish, they probably don't know about LunarStorm, an equally likely if less celebrated habitat of young culture-makers. I can't think of an institution, brand or subculture anywhere in the world that could compare with LunarStorm's mindshare among Swedish youth.

Smartmobbing Disaster Relief
By Howard Rheingold, Thu Jan 20, 2005

I wasn't surprised when people used sms, blogs, cameraphones and wikis to organize relief efforts during the first hours after the tsunami of 2005. If you can smartmob political demonstrations, elections and performance art, you can smartmob disaster relief. I observed two of my friends on opposite sides of the world doing just that.

Mobile and Open: A Manifesto
By Howard Rheingold, Wed Jan 05, 2005

Only a cockeyed optimist would forecast an open, user-driven, entrepreneurial future for the mobile Internet. This should not prevent us from trying, however. Sometimes, envisioning the way things ought to be can inspire people to work at making it that way. That's what manifestos are for.

Phones, Fashion, Self and Society
By Howard Rheingold, Tue Nov 30, 2004

Will the telephone's transition from appliance to fashion accessory change the ways we think of ourselves and interact with each other?

The Geoweb and Deep Place
By Howard Rheingold, Thu Nov 11, 2004

Bottom-up location-aware services, like the geoweb, promise to enhance people's sense of place.

M-Learning 4 Generation Txt?
By Howard Rheingold, Thu Nov 04, 2004

Forget wikis, blogs and other online learning tools -- one professor says the future of higher education is mobile.

Ecologizing Mobile Media
By Howard Rheingold, Thu Sep 09, 2004

The mobile telephone has quickly, profoundly, and unexpectedly altered many aspects of human life -- social, economic, cultural and political.

Fused Space: Awards for Technology that Energizes Public Space
By Howard Rheingold, Thu Aug 26, 2004

Most of the changes that information and communication technologies brought to city life have emerged spontaneously; few of the biggest changes were planned or even foreseen.

Breaking Out of Default Thinking

By Howard Rheingold, Thu Jul 29, 2004

Successful mobile applications build on the core functionality of mobile phones, not try to emulate desktop PCs, designer Scott Jenson contends.

Why Mobile Services Fail
By Howard Rheingold, Wed Jul 28, 2004

Designer Scott Jenson says mobile services like WAP and MMS were set up to fail because designers looked backwards at past successes instead of forward to new, untried ways to use mobile media.

Wireless Broadband for Everyone, Everywhere...by Pony Express?

By Howard Rheingold, Wed Jul 07, 2004

Every morning, five Honda motorcycles equipped with mobile Wi-Fi access points automatically connect to the Internet as soon as they drive near the 256 kbps satellite of a provincial hospital in northeastern Cambodia.

Augmented Windshields?
By Howard Rheingold, Tue Jun 29, 2004

Heads-up displays, first invented for fighter aircraft more than a decade ago, have morphed into "augmented reality" goggles that project an informational overlay over the real world as the goggle-wearer navigates through it. Information about people, places, and things can be seen only by the wearer, displayed automatically or on command.

Will Location Blogging Take Off?
By Howard Rheingold, Mon May 31, 2004

Will location-tagged recommendation services emerge from the accumulated opinions of many consumers, Wikipedia style, instead of arriving in a lump like a commercial guidebook? Can time-and-place-tagged media aggregate into a historical record of your activities – and display the activities of any who choose to share their media stream?

"Inverse Surveillance" -- What We Should Do With All Those Phonecams
By Howard Rheingold, Mon May 03, 2004

Cameraphones could create an opportunity for the public to snoop on the snoops and watch the watchers.

Cybercafe Society
By Howard Rheingold, Thu Apr 29, 2004

Now that Fedex owns Kinko's, I really think they ought to consider buying Starbucks to constitute the ultimate 21st century cybernomadic infrastructure: 24X7 coffee, wireless broadband, and handy global shipping for roving mobs of socio-knowledge workers.

Political Texting: SMS and Elections
By Howard Rheingold, Mon Apr 12, 2004

Texting and electoral politics are the strange bedfellows of the 21st century. The use of SMS for political action is only in its infancy, but has already enabled citizens to topple governments and tip elections from Manila to Madrid. The electoral power of texting could be an early indicator of future social upheaval: whenever people gain the power to organize collective action on new scales, in new places, at new tempos, with groups they had not been able to organize before, societies and civilizations change.

Mobicomp 2014: Roaming Computation Tribes?
By Howard Rheingold, Wed Mar 24, 2004

Ten years from now, when billions of people carry devices more powerful than today's desktop computers, linked at speeds faster than today's broadband, will ad hoc nations of co-computerists band together to sell their computing cycles on a second-by-second, block-by-block basis - or give their aggregated computations to worthy causes? What if they don't just share computing power? What if they share perceptions, observations, thinking?

Mobile Social Presence: Who Knows Who's Where Now?
By Howard Rheingold, Mon Mar 08, 2004

When social networking, mobile telephony and locative media collide on the small screen, something altogether surprising will emerge, the way virtual communities, online markets and self-organized dating services emerged from wired cyberspace.

The Auto and The Mobile
By Howard Rheingold, Fri Feb 20, 2004

People whose lives and whose children's lives were changed by the coming of the automobile failed to foresee the social side-effects of this wonderful new invention that brought freedom and power to so many people, so quickly. Can we foresee the mobilecom-dominated society any better than we planned for the automobile dominated society?

Entering the Era of Printable Devices?
By Howard Rheingold, Tue Feb 03, 2004

Can inkjet printing technologies of the near future democratize manufacturing, similar to the way Gutenberg's press democratized knowledge five hundred years ago? A decade from now, will we literally print out working computers, televisions, MP3-playing t-shirts?

Urban Infomatics Breakout
By Howard Rheingold, Tue Jan 13, 2004

If you want to understand cities today and especially in the future, keep mobile communications in mind. Ten years from now, understanding the way people use mobile media will be as fundamental to urban planning as understanding the buildings they inhabit and vehicles they use.

Does Mobile Telephony Disconnect People from City Life?
By Howard Rheingold, Mon Jan 05, 2004

How are mobile phones changing the cultural experience of being in a city? The very experience of urbanity that is supposedly changing under the pressure of thumb-tribes is itself a sense of social place as old as civilization (the city as agora, part market, part information-exchanging machine) that was changed irrevocably by rapid mass adoption of place-altering technologies such as skyscrapers, railroads, automobiles, and wireline telephones. Now what?

Location-aware Devices, Privacy, and UI Design
By Howard Rheingold, Tue Dec 09, 2003

Location-aware devices and services are emerging at the intersection of empowerment and surveillance: the same technology that could let you know if a good Chinese restaurant or old friend is in the vicinity could also betray your location to a totalitarian government, neighborhood spammers, and your vindictive ex-spouse.

McLuhanizing Mobile Media
By Howard Rheingold, Mon Nov 24, 2003

What would Marshall McLuhan, visionary prophet of pre-Internet media, say about mobile telephony, texting, the mobile Web, and the always-on world of wireless devices?

Tangible Bits
By Howard Rheingold, Fri Oct 24, 2003

PCs gave us spreadsheets, word processors, outliners, information managers, graphical toolkits that have become part of our cognitive scaffolding along with reading and writing, and the Internet gave us virtual communities and Friendster as a new variety of social organizing. What new ways of thinking and interacting are we likely to experience in a world of Phicons, computational clay, musicBottles, and calm technology?

RFID Zeitgeist
By Howard Rheingold, Wed Oct 15, 2003

We have never before lived in a world where your telephone knows your name, social networks hitch rides on objects and places, doorknobs decide who gets into a room and know who has entered, and every place you go, every thing you touch, is more likely than not to contain a processor and a miniature radio.

Flash Mobs: Just An Early Form Of Self-Organized Entertainment
By Howard Rheingold, Mon Sep 22, 2003

When a communication medium is young, it can serve as a projection screen for people’s hopes and fears about technology and the direction society seems to be heading.

Cities, Swarms, Cell Phones: The Birth of Urban Informatics
By Howard Rheingold, Fri Sep 12, 2003

I've wondered about the ways mobile phones might be changing cities ever since I noticed people on the streets of Tokyo and Helsinki (but not New York or San Francisco) looking at their telephones instead of listening to them. When I looked for people who could help me understand the effects cyberurban subcultures on city life, it didn't take long to Google my way to Anthony Townsend, urban informatician and wireless activist.

Mobile Virtual Communities
By Howard Rheingold, Wed Jul 09, 2003

Today's experiments with mobile virtual communities will grow into next year's trends.

Mobile Show And Tell
By Howard Rheingold, Mon Sep 16, 2002

While we await the rollout of 3G networks, some companies are building creative new services out of existing technology.

Wireless Public Servants Parachute Over the Digital Divide

By Howard Rheingold, Fri Aug 02, 2002

Telecoms sans Frontieres, Geekcorps and wire.less.dk cannot do miracle, but what they can do is help boost effectiveness.

Helsinki's Aula
By Howard Rheingold, Wed Jul 17, 2002

Where geospace, sociospace, and cyberspace meet...

Cyborg Swarms and Wearable Communities
By Howard Rheingold, Mon Jun 03, 2002

Researchers are exploring a new social realm that integrates instead of separates cyberspace and face-to-face space.

Computers In The Woodwork At CoolTown
By Howard Rheingold, Tue Dec 11, 2001

Some pretty cool secrets can be learned form HP's wireless labs.

Four Futurists on Tomorrow's Mobile Media
By Howard Rheingold, Thu Jul 12, 2001

Articulating exactly what that future might look like isn't so easy. But keeping an eye on the people defining it helps.