#70 – Virtual Community with Howard Rheingold

Welcome to our second podcast on the theme of “community.” While the web has been around for about 25 years now, learning on the Internet really started way before the web was even in development. For those of us old enough to remember the days of computer modems and online bulletin boards, if you had the time and the money, you could connect to people around the world and learn all sorts of things through online communities that relied solely on text…as in no audio, video…not even any pictures unless you were able to draw them with the keys on you keyboard.

Back in those days, the Internet was a new frontier for connecting and learning, and there from almost the beginning was Howard Rhiengold, who I’m happy to say is my guest in this week’s podcast, our second around the theme of community. Howard was one of the very early users on The Well, what many regard as the first real virtual community on the Internet. As you’ll hear in this conversation, even on slow modems and expensive connections, many of the qualities and experiences that define community in our lives were present in those spaces. And what makes Howard’s perspective so important is that he was the first to think deeply about the potentials and downsides of these connections. His first book titled “The Virtual Community,” is a chronicle of those first interactions and questions for groups online. And I so appreciate the sense of perspective and history that this conversation brings to our current understanding of community.

For more links and resources associated with this podcast, check out the podcast topic in our Modern Learners Community. And don’t forget to check out our previous podcast on the theme of community with Peter Block.

Next week, I’ll be interviewing educator Dave Cormier on his suggestion that the community become the curriculum. See you then!

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