From Tokyo to Helsinki, Manhattan to Manila, Howard Rheingold takes us on a journey around the world for a preview of the next techno-cultural shift-a shift he predicts will be as dramatic as the widespread adoption of the PC in the 1980s and the Internet in the 1990s. The coming wave, says Rheingold, is the result of super-efficient mobile communications-cellular phones, personal digital assistants, and wireless-paging and Internet-access devices that will allow us to connect with anyone, anywhere, anytime.From the amusing ("Lovegetty" devices in Japan that light up when a person with the right date-potential characteristics appears in the vicinity) to the extraordinary (the overthrow of a repressive regime in the Philippines by political activists who mobilized by forwarding text messages via cell phones), Rheingold gives examples of the fundamentally new ways in which people are already engaging in group or collective action. He also considers the dark side of this phenomenon, such as the coordination of terrorist cells, threats to privacy, and the ability to incite violent behavior.Applying insights from sociology, artificial intelligence, engineering, and anthropology, Rheingold offers a penetrating perspective on the brave new convergence of pop culture, cutting-edge technology, and social activism. At the same time, he reminds us that, as with other technological revolutions, the real impact of mobile communications will come not from the technology itself but from how people use it, resist it, adapt to it, and ultimately use it to transform themselves, their communities, and their institutions.
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Howard Rheingold is one of the world's foremost authorities on the social implications of technology. Over the past twenty years he has traveled around the world, observing and writing about emerging trends in computing, communications, and culture. One of the creators and former founding executive editor of HotWired, he has served as editor of The Whole Earth Review, editor-in-chief of The Millennium Whole Earth Catalog, and on-line host for The Well. The author of several books, including The Virtual Community, Virtual Reality, and Tools for Thought, he lives in Mill Valley, California.From Publishers Weekly:
The title of this book is a mild pun. People are using smart "mobs" (rhymes with "robes") to become smart "mobs" (rhymes with "robs"), meaning, sophisticated mobile Internet access is allowing people who don't know each other to act in concert. In this timely if at times overenthusiastic survey of wireless communication devices, Rheingold (The Virtual Community) conveys how cell phones, pagers and PDAs are shaping modern culture. He interviewed dozens of people around the world who work and play with these technologies to see how this revolution is manifesting, and his findings are stirring. The concept has caught on among young Japanese, where cliques of teenagers hang out together all day, despite being in different places, by sending and receiving hundreds of iconic text transmissions on their iMode telephones. And demonstrators in Seattle and Manila relied on wireless telephones to coordinate their actions and evade barricades. In major cities, Rheingold says, techno-hipsters can congregate in "WiFi" areas that interact with their wireless devices to let them participate in a virtual social scene. In one amusing example, he tells of upscale prostitutes who can enter their services and prices into their mobile phones, allowing customers to discreetly determine if anyone nearby is selling what they want to buy (a Japanese company, Lovegety, has already adapted this idea to dating). This study of the potential of mobile, always on, fast Internet access nicely serves as a travelogue to the future, showing the possibilities and dangers of communications innovation.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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