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Howard Rheingold On Our Mobile World 49

Posted by Zonk
from the interconnectedness dept.
Roland Piquepaille writes "Howard Rheingold is the well-known author of "Smart Mobs" and many other books describing the evolution of our societies. His last book predicted the transformation of our society into a mobile one. Four years later, his forecast is more than confirmed. As one of the futurologists who can detect the emerging technology trends behind our daily lives, I wanted to know what Howard was thinking in 2006. He was kind enough to agree for an interview which was conducted by e-mail in mid-June. We discuss the importance of mobile technology, blogs, the changing climate, and the future of surveillance" From the article: "The power of the technologies packed into mobile devices continues to multiply, the diffusion of devices to all parts of the world and socioeconomic strata broadens, the spread of knowledge about how to use technologies to organize political, economic, social, cultural collective action quickens. It is in the convergence of the technical, cognitive, and social forces generates that the real power of smart mobs -- for both constructive and destructive."
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Howard Rheingold On Our Mobile World

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  • Just Criticism (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Umbral Blot (737704) on Saturday July 22, 2006 @03:46AM (#15762204) Homepage
    First let me point out that given 2006 is now the sentance "I wanted to know what Howard was thinking in 2006" should be written as "I wanted to know what Howard is thinking now", unless I have been unknowningly sucked into a time warp.

    Secondly if that quote is representative of the article as a whole then I say stay far far away from TFA on this one, since that 4 line quote translates to: Technology will make things change faster, and online communities will become more important. Since that is what he predicted originally it doesn't seem like he has anything new to say. (except perhaps to add more buzzwords into the fray)
    • Re:Just Criticism (Score:2, Informative)

      by Umbral Blot (737704)
      Here's another gem from the article: "I'm concentrating on continuing to catalyze an interdisciplinary study of cooperation and collective action, and creating curricula for teaching young people about civic engagement through the use of participatory media." which translates to: I'm still studying collective action, as well as teaching kids to use gadgets to get involved with their communities. Go buzzwords go!
    • As a budding "futurologist" myself I really don't think normal people will talk this way. In the future, you know. Shit, the future is here and THA is still up. Better not quit my day job in order to pursue futurology.
    • Since that is what he predicted originally it doesn't seem like he has anything new to say. (except perhaps to add more buzzwords into the fray)

      Even 4 years ago these kinds of predictions were not visionary at all. Everyone could see the mobile lifestyle approaching. It was visionary when Neal Stephenson wrote about it in Snow Crash a decade before this guy did.
  • Well known author of what?

    Never heard of it.

    For that matter, never heard of him. Probably 'cause I don't care.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 22, 2006 @04:41AM (#15762285)
    Once Again

    Slashdot shows its support for Roland Piquepaille by sending its hoards to his advertising based site.

    When will those slashdot fools learn?

  • I predict that in 2007 this guy will be making future predictions about which an interviewer will ask him what he was thinking in 2007 which someone on slashdot will correct and which will be followed by a new prediction by dotslashdot about the guy's 2008 prediction.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Wow, they make very vague predictions and sometimes manage to be right....um...hooray? Not to mention that more often than not, if they make a specific prediction(and not one so vague that it is impossible to prove them wrong) 9 times out of 10 they would be wrong. If you would have said 20 years ago that the Chinese would put a man into space before the Japanese successfully launched a private satellite, all the so called "futurists" who were predicting that Japan would take over the world technologicall
    • Who here is sick of "futurologists"?

      Does "M" mean anything to you?

      It could be a person, living, dead or as yet unborn. Maybe a pet of someone living, dead or as yet unborn. Perhaps someone called "Mister," or "Miss," or "Meathead." Maybe you're into semiotics and recognize it as a . . .letter of an alphabet, past, present, or as yet unborn. I'd take that as a hit. I'm easy to get along with.

      If "M" doesn't mean anything to you I've got lots more guesses. I'll be here all night, but I'll try to be long gone w
    • Ray Kurzweil [kurzweiltech.com]

      You missed the call by about 2 decades.

  • by DrSkwid (118965) on Saturday July 22, 2006 @05:04AM (#15762315) Homepage Journal
    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2006/07/21/whatever_h appened_to_smartphones/ [theregister.co.uk]

    Whatever happened to... the smartphone?

    A few years ago an American business consultant and author published a very silly book called 'Smart Mobs' - which even predicted that phone-toting nerds would be at the vanguard of social upheaval.

    But something funny happened on the way to this digital nirvana. Perhaps the signs were there from the start: 'Smart Mobs' couldn't find a UK publisher. A website of the same name continues, however, apparently staffed by volunteers, and making its ghostly way across the web like a latter day Marie Celeste. Alas the site still has a category called "How To Recognize The Future When It Lands On You.
    • Very good article from the Reg.

      Here's one counter argument: the Blackberry. It's basically a smartphone. The missing piece was not networks, price, features, etc. It was focus. The Blackberry demonstrates how to make a successful smartphone: you package useful technology in a usable and simple form. It does not have to be cheap.

      I'm also using a Nokia E70, my third 'seagull' Nokia. And to my own surprise, I'm surfing the net with it. I bought it because I like writing notes on the fly. But it has bui
  • Think like (Score:5, Funny)

    by William Robinson (875390) on Saturday July 22, 2006 @05:09AM (#15762325)
    The professor of a contract law class asked one of his better students, "If you were to give someone an orange, how would you go about it?"

    The student replied, "Here's an orange."

    The professor was outraged. "No! No! Think like a lawyer!"

    The student then replied, "Okay. I'd tell him `I hereby give and convey to you all and singular, my estate and interests, rights, claim, title, claim and advantages of and in, said orange, together with all its rind, juice, pulp, and seeds, and all rights and advantages with full power to bite, cut, freeze and otherwise eat, the same, or give the same away with and without the pulp, juice, rind and seeds, anything herein before or hereinafter or in any deed, or deeds, instruments of whatever nature or kind whatsoever to the contrary in anywise notwithstanding...'"

    In another classroom, professor asked his best student. "If you have to predict impact of technology on society, how would you go?"

    He said "There will be more features in mobile"

    The professor was outraged. "No! No! Think like a Howard Rheingold!"

    The student then replied,"Okay. The power of the technologies packed into mobile devices continues to multiply, the diffusion of devices to all parts of the world and socioeconomic strata broadens, the spread of knowledge about how to use technologies to organize political, economic, social, cultural collective action quickens. It is in the convergence of the technical, cognitive, and social forces generates that the real power of smart mobs -- for both constructive and destructive"

  • Shotgun Futurology (Score:3, Informative)

    by pieterh (196118) on Saturday July 22, 2006 @05:19AM (#15762339) Homepage
    I never liked reading Rheingold because he always said the most obvious things using the most buzzwords possible. Very tiring, like one long endless Wired article.

    The future is always easy to predict, only the details seems to go wrong.

    Yes, people will continue to get more and more interconnected, as every phone turns into a full-on mobile computer/camera complete with infinite memory, as social life moves more and more into the virtual world. Yes, the old patterns of mass movement to work will end as oil continues to cost more and more. No, electric cars won't solve anything. Yes, Japan will produce life-like robots but it'll be small firms in the US and France that produce the bots that finally make it into every home, and they'll be toys, tools, avatars, and for some people, friends. Yes, nuclear power will make a big comeback. No, it won't power our cars. Yes, China and India are going to become information superpowers. No, they won't toppled the US from its throne. Yes, there will be a lot of war in the future, and a lot of it will be fragmented, because just as mobile phones disrupt the traditional social forms, they also disrupt fighting. "Smart armies"? Give them all Blackberries. Yes, there will be a nuclear terrorist attack. No, it won't be in New York or Washington, but probably in Delhi or Tehran. Yes, Linux will take Windows off the desktop, but really not in the way you'd expect. No, no-one will care when it happens. Yes, there will be a black US president one day. No, she won't be a republican.

    The future is not so hard to predict - just look at all the domains where people are competing hardest to innovate, then assume ten years of progress, slower than you'd expect but more profound than you'd believe possible, and then see how people would use those changes to improve and simplify their lives.

    It does not take buzzwords.
    • Whooops!

      You forgot the part where we are all wiped out by the Avian Flu!!

    • I never liked reading Rheingold because he always said the most obvious things using the most buzzwords possible.

      He wears stupid hats in his author photos, too.
    • I never liked reading Rheingold because he always said the most obvious things using the most buzzwords possible. Very tiring, like one long endless Wired article.

      And Bruce Sterling wrote about "Smart Mobs" back in 1998. See the beginning of the novel "Distraction".

      Rheingold is making a living with a throwaway detail from a Sterling novel.

      And just to RTFA a bit:

      the success of YouTube and Google Video, del.icio.us and Flickr, are all evidence that smartmob phenomena continues to grow

      Anything

  • I read Asimov's "The Last Question" the other day. In it, towards the end of the universe, every human being merges with a super-powerful computer.

    I'm thinking that something like this is already happening with our culture of mobile technology. People are all being "plugged-in" to one vast social network. Each person is there own individual node, capabal of creating, obtaining, and processing data, which they will pass on to their peers, i.e., other nodes. Every node is connected to every other node by th

  • Heres my question on smart mobs: How many "futurologists" one would need to gather in one place before they came up with anything even remotely perceptive?
  • This guy is way off the mark. We can't even get reliable mobile phone service to all parts of our country, and somehow the coming mobile revolution is going to transform society?

    I live on Bainbridge Island, across Puget Sound from the wonderfully techie city of Seattle. The distance is eight miles. The island is populated with a lot of really wealthy, successful, and in a lot of cases, technical people. (I'm only technical!) I had Verizon Wireless when I moved here from Texas, and a quick check of thei
    • We're not going to be truly mobile until we can carry our devices everywhere, into every city and *populated* area in the country/world, and use them without having to worry about signal strength.

      And that's only going to happen when the wireless carriers wake up and realize they are holding back adoption of expensive services by failing to provide the infrastructure capable of handling the load and servicing the areas of demand.

      Verizon has probably already looked at the situation and realized it's not

  • i recently got rid of my cell phone. that was the best decision i've ever made. stress is down, time spent on the back porch drinking iced tea is up, income stays the same. go ahead and have a mobile world, i'll be on the a porch passed out naked.
  • Great interview, I am a huge fan of Smartmobs and I appreciate you taking the time to do this. The last time I reread it was last summer in eastern Tibet, and outside my window there were guys talking on their cell phones while herding yaks in the remote village I was staying in. Crazy stuff.

The bomb will never go off. I speak as an expert in explosives. -- Admiral William Leahy, U.S. Atomic Bomb Project

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