Unless you’re one of his colleagues, past students, on Brainstorms or are an Internet Junkie like me, you might not have heard about Howard Rheingold. I first heard about Howard in 1998 when I saw a link to his website on a Dan Bern fan’s online bookmarks. I followed it and saw he had recently started an online forum called Brainstorms. I applied for admission (I sent an email to him telling him about my studies and asking for admittance) and was allowed entry. I was delighted and announced it in class the next time we met. No one knew about Howard Rheingold nor did anyone know what Brainstorms was. No matter — I was in.
I’ve met Howard three times. The first time was at a dinner in Frederick, Maryland. We had Chinese food and I drove Howard back to his hotel via an unintentional circuitous route through the Pentagon parking lot and Arlington Cemetery. [Note: these were the days before GPS devices and I was a little awed that a hero of mine was IN MY CAR].
The second time I saw Howard was after he’d done a book reading at Politics and Prose about his new book, Smart Mobs. He signed a copy for me mentioning something about “taking a ride” and then a group of us went to Guapos in DC for dinner.
The third time I saw Howard was when I visited San Francisco and he invited my family and me to hike with him in the mountains near his home (close to Mt Tan).
I’m still a member of Brainstorms and have many friends from that forum, although I rarely visit. About two weeks ago I noticed a post on my Facebook wall that Howard had been diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma of the rectum and had begun a blog about it. Today I saw that his butt has been twittering updates.