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Talk with Howard Rheingold

Johan Jessen
November 29th, 2020 · 2 min read

Howard Rheingold - First step is awareness

Howard Rheingold
Howard Rheingold, Mill Valley, California by Joi Ito.

Imagine the Possible is a podcast about the role of design in advanced technology. This is the very first episode; an interview with Howard Rheingold. Howard is a good friend and he’s one of the clearest thinkers in tech. Howard talks about the early pioneers in Silicon Valley, the current state of social media, online learning, and the future of technology.

Show notes

1:30 - The early pioneers in Silicon Valley

9:30 - How did the Bay Area come to dominate technology?

17:30 - Is today’s Social Media broken?

  • Social Media seem to be breaking our democracy with a rollback of the enlightenment and widespread denial of science.
  • “Facebook 900x the threat that all other social media networks are. Only Facebook has a significant portion of the global population using it exclusively as their way of socializing.”
  • Howard on Virtual Communities in 2020 (Video). The price of network effects.
  • “Designers must think about the consequences of their work.”
  • What does it mean to have a global network? Freedom of speech, culture, control, and legal frameworks.
  • Net Smart, Rheingold, 2012.
  • Crap Detection and the importance of digital literacy.
  • “The fewer people participate the more power the monopolies have.”
  • The Future of The internet and How to Stop It, Jonathan Zittrain, 2008.
  • “It’s an arms race between literacy and computational propaganda. […] First point of intervention is the education of engineers and designers. But there’s very little training.”
  • Steve Jobs made a great plea that technology alone is not enough (Video).

36:00 - Where’s education going from here?

48:30 - What’s the next wave in technology?

  • “Tension between centralized power and individual freedom. The US and China have built enormous surveillance systems. […] Most important conflict is between democracy and technology.”
  • Decentralizing technology may play a role.
  • “Today people are a much more aware of their use of technology. Will that lead to better technology? First step is awareness.”

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