Howard Rheingold fell into the computer realm from the typewriter dimension, then plugged his computer into his telephone and got sucked into the net.
In earlier years, his interest in the powers of the human mind led to "Higher Creativity," written with Willis Harman; "Talking Tech" and "The Cognitive Connections" with Howard Levine; "Excursions to the Far Side of the Mind: A Book of Memes"; "Exploring the World of Lucid Dreaming" with Stephen LaBerge; and "They Have A Word For It: A Lighthearted Lexicon of Untranslatable Words and Phrases."
He ventured further into the territory where minds meet technology, via the subject of computers as mind-amplifiers, and wrote "Tools for Thought" (New edition from MIT Press, April 2000). Next, "Virtual Reality" chronicled his odyssey in the world of artificial experience, from simulated battlefields in Hawaii to robotics laboratories in Tokyo, garage inventors in Great Britain, and simulation engineers in the south of France.
In 1985, he became involved in the WELL, a computer conferencing system. He started writing about life in my virtual community and ended up with a book about the cultural and political implications of a new communications medium, "The Virtual Community" (New edition published by MIT Press in 2000). He is credited with inventing the term virtual community. He had the privilege of serving as the editor of The Whole Earth review and editor in chief of The Millennium Whole Earth Catalog.
In 1994, he was one of the principal architects and the first executive editor of HotWired. He quit after launch, because he wanted something more like a jam session than a magazine. In 1996, he founded and, with the help of a crew of 15, launched Electric Minds. Electric Minds was named one of the ten best websites of 1996 by Time magazine and was acquired by Durand Communications in 1997. Since the late 1990s, he's cat-herded a consultancy for virtual community building.
His 2002 book, "Smart Mobs," was acclaimed as a prescient forecast of the always-on era. The weblog associated with the book has become one of the top 200 of the 8 million blogs tracked by Technorati, and won Utne Magazine's Independent Press Award in 2003. In 2005, He taught a course at Stanford University on A Literacy of Cooperation, part of a long-term investigation of cooperation and collective action that he has undertaken in partnership with the Institute for the Future.
He teaches Participatory Media/Collective Action at UC Berkeley's School of Information, Digital Journalism and VirtualCommunity/Social Media at Stanford University, as a non-resident Fellow of the Annenberg School for Communication, and is a visiting Professor at the Institute of Creative Technologies at De Montfort University in Leicester, U.K.
In 2008, he was a winner in MacArthur Foundation's Digital Media and Learning competition and used his award to work with a developer to create a free and open source social media classroom. He has a videoblog that covers a range of subjects. Most recently, he's been concentrating on learning and teaching 21st Century literacies. He's blogged about this subject for SFGate, has been interviewed, and has presented talks on the subject.