About the Speaker
Howard Rheingold is the author of "Virtual Reality" (Simon & Shuster, 1991)
and "The Virtual Community (Addison-Wesley, 1993), the editor in chief
of "The Millennium Whole Earth Catalog" (HarperSanFrancisco, 1994). His
"Tomorrow" column is syndicated internationally by King Features.
He is the founding Executive Editor of HotWired and the founder and CEO
of Electric Minds. He is the coauthor of "Higher Creativity" and "Exploring
the World of Lucid Dreaming." He was the editor of "The Whole Earth Review."
Read more about Howard on his homepage on the Well.
Abstract of Talk
Websurfing is fun, useful, and lonely. Like a marvelous but
unpopulated library, the Web has, until recently, lacked the most
important element of human cultural activity: a means for people to
communicate with other people. Sure, there are mailtos and newsgroups, but
websites in themselves have not been the locus of social
communication. That situation is about to change, and nothing will be the
same after the emergence of the Social Web .
Together with a team who shared my sense of mission, I created Electric Minds because websurfing doesn't have to be a solitary activity. Every person looking at a page about beekeeping or telecommunications policy is a potential member of a community of interest. While the Web has been the world's best means of publishing multimedia content to the world, it has, until recently, lacked the enabling technologies necessary for social interaction. All those beekeepers and telecom policy wonks have lacked the means of connecting with one another.
The recent advent of communication-enabling technologies - webconferencing, groupware, webchat, web telephony, web videoconferencing, 3D chat - signals a sea-change at least as significant as the transformation of the text-only Internet to the media-rich Web. The coming year will see the Web transform into what I call "the social Web."