As Howard Rheingold himself puts it, "I fell into the computer realm from the typewriter dimension, then plugged my computer into my telephone and got sucked into the net." A writer and designer, he was among the first wave of creative thinkers who saw, in computers and then in the Internet, a way to form powerful new communities.
His 2002 book Smart Mobs, which presaged Web 2.0 in predicting collaborative ventures like Wikipedia, was the outgrowth of decades spent studying and living life online. An early and active member of the Well (he wrote about it in The Virtual Community), he went on to cofound HotWired and Electric Minds, two groundbreaking web communities, in the mid-1990s. Now active in Second Life, he teaches, writes and consults on social networking. His latest passion: teaching and workshopping participatory media literacy, to make sure we all know how to read and make the new media that we're all creating together.