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Howard Rheingold

Forfatter af Smart Mobs: The Next Social Revolution

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Howard Rheingold, an influential writer and thinker on social media, is the author of Smart Mobs: The Next Social Revolution and many other books.
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Værker af Howard Rheingold

The Millennium Whole Earth Catalog (1994) 345 eksemplarer
Stereogram (1994) 163 eksemplarer
Net Smart: How to Thrive Online (2012) 125 eksemplarer
Open 11: Hybrid Space (2007) 8 eksemplarer
The Savage Report: 1994 (1974) 8 eksemplarer
War of the gurus (1974) 8 eksemplarer
The New Technology Coloring Book (1983) 2 eksemplarer

Associated Works

Critical Digital Pedagogy: A Collection (2020) — Bidragyder — 10 eksemplarer

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Pretty good overall. Some of the featured words have actually entered mainstream English usage (e.g. "wabi-sabi", "mantra", "zeitgeist", and "schadenfreude") in the ~30 years since this book was written, and it's fun to think that not so long ago they were foreign and novel. Will any of the other words in the book become mainstream in the next ~30 years? I, for one, will be doing my best to use and spread these words: "esprit de l'escalier", the clever remark that come to mind when it is too late to utter it; "fusto", a man who like to flex his muscles and dress provocatively"; "yugen", an awareness of the universe that triggers feelings too deep and mysterious for words"; and "schlimmbesserung", a so-called improvement that makes things worse.

Some of the featured words/phrases don't seem like they are expressing anything that we don't already have a word or phrase for in English (e.g. "bustarella", a cash bribe), and other words/phrases don't seem like they would ever, EVER, be needed in American life (e.g. "nadi", to temporarily inhabit another dimension). That isn't a big deal, it was still nice to read through them, but I definitely got the feeling that some of this was filler to meet a particular page count.
… (mere)
blueskygreentrees | 9 andre anmeldelser | Jul 30, 2023 |

review of
Howard Rheingold's They Have a Word for It: A Lighthearted Lexicon of Untranslatable Words & Phrases
by tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE - September 19, 2017

Yes, yes, you can read the full review, "They Have a Word for "It"", here: https://www.goodreads.com/story/show/598455-they-have-a-word-for-it

Since February of 2016 I've been working on my 'opera' entitled "Endangered Languages, Endangered Cultures, Endangered Ideas". For the libretto of this, I've been reading bks on endangered languages & writing reviews of them so that I can quote from the reviews (&, therefore, the bks as well) for the 'opera' txt. The 1st 2 bks I read were Daniel Nettle & Suzanne Romaine's Vanishing Voices - The Extinction of the World's Languages ( https://www.goodreads.com/story/show/524556-biolinguistic-diversity?chapter=1 ) & Mark Abley's Spoken Here - Travels Among Threatened Languages ( https://www.goodreads.com/story/show/548094-unfortunately-no-longer-spoken-here?... ). They Have a Word for It is the 3rd. I only plan to read one more, Mary Ulmer Chiltoskey's Cherokee Words With Pictures, before I move on from this research phase & start finalizing both the libretto & the rest of the 'opera'. Those of you interested in this project can witness my feature-length quasi-documentary about the development of the software for it here: https://youtu.be/fiAVrCNtKvQ . Those of you who don't have the patience for something that long that doesn't have guns, tits, murder, or robbery in it can witness the considerably abridged version here: https://archive.org/details/ELIPabridged .

Since one of the (I-wd-hope UNNECESSARY) justifications for giving a shit about the extinction of languages is that every language is an expression of the unique world-view of its speakers & has words to express unique concepts, if only ones expressive of local knowledge unknown outside the environment in wch it's spoken - wch is more than enough from a botanist's perspective, e.g.. That makes Rheingold's "Lexicon of Untranslatable Words & Phrases" perfect for my interests.

Alas, one thing that always rubs me the wrong way are hired hand writers, hacks, as they're known. I had a friend who got a job as a writer of copy for coffee-table bks b/c a friend of his had had the job & had moved on from it & had recommended my friend as a replacement. Nepotism & croneyism RULES (unfortunately). Anyway, this friend had very expensive bks out w/ his name on the cover credited as the author. Now when I think of a real author, I think of someone who conceives of the bk themselves, does their own research AND writes the thing - then resisting 'corrections' from the publisher w/ a fervent tenacity. Cf:

"It all started with a friendly lunch. Jeremy Tarcher is the kind of publisher a writer dreams about. He isn't likely to merge with a new multinational conglomerate every other week, as book publishers are wont to do, and he actually likes to sit down with authors and talk about ideas. During one of our brainstorming sessions, Jeremy mentioned his desire to publish a lexicon of "untranslatable words" that don't exist in English but would add a new dimension to our lives if we were somehow to import them from their original languages." - pp 1-2

Ouch. Howard Rheingold is a hired hand, not a "real author" in the sense described above. Being in a position where a publisher even asks you to do something like this shows that the hired hand is a person of privilege moving in social circles that wd be more likely to put myself, a "real author", in jail - if only to keep the world safe for privilege. Oh, well.. Seem like harsh judgment? It's not like I haven't accumulated experiential reasons for such bold & bald statements.

Nonetheless, this bk, having been published in 1988, strikes me as a pioneering work in favor of cherishing languages & appreciating them & nursing them away from extinction. I respect it for that. It even seems to be trying to be 'popular' - wch I suppose might not be a bad idea if one's seriously concerned about endangered languages.

"This book is meant to be fun. Open it at random and see if you don't find something that will amuse you, entertain you, titillate your curiosity, tickle your perspective. But you should know that reading this book might have serious side effects at a deeper level. Even if you read one page as you stand in a bookstore, you are likely to find a custom or an idea that could change the way you think about the world. It was to do with the insidious way words mold thoughts." - p 1

Apparently "fun" goes hand-in-hand w/ not reading the whole thing, instead opening "it at random and see[ing] if you don't find something that will amuse you, entertain you" n'at. Somewhat recently, I wrote a bk review about a such that I'm somewhat of an expert on, the review was long. The author & I were slightly acquainted, I thought the bk was generally excellent. The author wrote me & sd something to the effect of "I assume your review can just be opened at random & read in brief excerpts?" to wch I replied: "NO, my review is linear & meant to be carefully read in its entirety from front-to-back."

My bks tend to present accumulative information that inform each new section, reading my explicative didactic writing is meant to be absorbed, not skimmed over like something stupid like an Andy Warhol portrait. I suspect that most readers aren't going to find They Have a Word for It "fun" simply b/c it's not a fictional narrative w/ sex & violence - the 2 poles of the conventional entertainment experience. A group of friends & I gave a concert of a piece of mine called "A Catamaran Animist Vigor" ( http://youtu.be/cn3U055X-2U ). There was a fair-sized audience of potentially open-minded people, some of whom probably had some expertise on music. At the end, I told people that that was my idea of entertainment & asked if anyone in the audience found the piece entertaining. Apparently no-one did. I remember performance poet Jackson Mac Low telling me that he meant for his works to be entertainment too but I'm not sure many audience members wd've agreed w/ him about that either.

"I even used a computer bulletin board to gather tips, and through it I met Corinne, my researcher, who extended my list of a couple of dozen words to a list of several hundred, from which I selected the entries for this book.

"For those of you who haven't dipped into the world of cybernetic virtual communities, a computer bulletin board is a computer that is hooked up to a telephone line. People who know that computer's telephone number can use their own computer to dial in to the bulletin board, then look through a menulike list of conversations that are stored in the bulletin board system (known in the acronym-happy computer world as a "BBS"), in order to find a topic of discussion that interests them." - p 3

WHEW! Remember that this bk was 1st published in 1988 so it was written in the mid 1980s. When I 1st studied computers in 1973 or shortly thereafter, I don't think I ever laid hands on a computer, I just learned how to write flow-charts. I started having friends in the 1980s w/ computers but they were somewhat rare. I, personally, didn't have an email address until 1996 & I had to go to the library to check my email b/c I didn't have a set-up at home that cd support such activity. It wasn't until 1997 that I had a computer that I cd use for connecting to the internet & that was thru dial-up. Dial-up was vvvveeeeerrrrrrrryyyyyy slooooooooowwwwwww. Then I progressed to DSL & most recently to FIOS & wireless.

Anyway, the point is that even tho this bk was 1st published a mere 29 yrs ago it's explaining something that can be done much more efficiently thru a search engine that almost everyone in many if not most countries are likely to have access to on their phones. That's truly mind-boggling.. - &, yet, how many people w/ access to this incredible resource actually use it for much of anything? I quote from the most recent review I wrote before this one:

"Given that I've been working on an 'opera' about endangered languages for the last 20 months (see a documentary about the work-in-progress here: https://youtu.be/fiAVrCNtKvQ ), the following section was of particular interest to me. The narrator comes upon some locals & attempted to engage them in conversation:

""I asked them casually about the fishing; but, instead of answering, they just shook their heads silently, and stared at me. I repeated the question, addressing more particularly a great, gaunt fellow at my elbow; yet again I received no answer. Then the man turned to a comrade and said something rapidly in a language that I did not understand; and, at once, the whole crowd of them fell to jabbering in what, after a few moments, I guessed to be pure Irish." - p 3

"""Yabbering" and "jabbering" are interesting words. They show up all over the English-speaking world whenever a speaker feels like sneering at animals or a minority people. Look up "jabber" in the Oxford English Dictionary, and you'll find quotations in which the term applies to monkeys, Flemish servants, seabirds, and Jews. It often betrays contempt, the dictionary observes, for "the speaking of a language which is unintelligible to the hearer."" - p 21, Mark Abley's Spoken Here - Travels Among Threatened Languages

"In honor of the 'jabber' that the narrator couldn't understand, I've decided to create a dialog in Irish esp for this bk review. Isn't that clever of me?:

"An gceapann tú go bhfuil an duine seo díreach jabbering? Nó an dóigh leat go bhfuil sé ag labhairt teanga i ndáiríre nach bhfuil cuid mhaith príobháideach ann? Tá sé deacair a rá, nach bhfuil sé? Is cosúil go gcailltear é ionas go bhféadfadh sé a bheith míchothromaithe go meabhrach freisin. An gceapann tú go bhfuil sé ag iarraidh iarracht a dhéanamh linn a ithe? Nó mátálann lenár mhná? B'fhéidir gurb é an norm is dóigh a thagann sé as an tslí sin. - Irish

"Now, if you don't speak Irish & you're not a lazy good-for-nothing piece of shit that emits more methane than the oxygen you breath in can replace then you'll copy the above paragraph into an Irish-to-English (if that's your preferred language) translator & find out what I've written. C'm'on, it'll only take a few minutes, why not take advantage of these translation programs? WE ARE SO DAMNED LUCKY TO LIVE IN A TIME WHEN THEY EXIST!! Really."" - https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2127802453

Rheingold's disclaimer-like honesty is welcome:

"I am not a linguist, and this book is not an attempt to provide rigorous evidence for one linguistic hypothesis or another. But when I did some reading about the linguistic theory known as the Whorfian hypothesis, I began to understand the formal underpinnings of the phenomenon I had come to know through sheer iteration of examples. In light of these theories about the influence of thought upon language, I began to see this book as something quite different from the other books about unusual words." - pp 4-5

"If you want to change the way people think, you can educate them, brainwash them, bribe them, drug them. Ot you can teach them a few carefully chosen new words." - p 5

But even more welcome is his emphasis on teaching "carefully chosen new words." But like all things that 'might be good for people' introducing new concepts means wrapping them in same old same old sugar pills. If They Have a Word for It had been titled They Killed Babies Over One Word & was a lurid tale of drug addiction, rape, & child abuse with the ONE WORD introduced as an incredibly horrific surprise ending to a tale of total degradation then, maybe, a few people might remember the word.

"We dissect nature along lines laid down by our native languages. The categories and types that we isolate from the world of phenomena we do not find there because they stare every observer in the face; on the contrary, the world is presented in a kaleidoscopic flux of impressions which has to be organized by our minds—and this means largely by the linguistic systems in our minds. We cut nature up, organize it into concepts, and ascribe significances as we do, largely because we are parties to an agreement to organize it this way—an agreement that holds throughout our speech community and is codified in the patterns of our language.

"The words quoted above were written by Benjamin Lee Whorf, an expert on American Indian languages. This passage from Language, Thought and Reality is the heart of the theory that has come to be known as the Whorfian hypothesis, which asserts that the world is experienced in different ways by different linguistic communities and proposes that the differences in language actually cause the differences in the way the linguistic communities think." - pp 5-6

Now the last sentence above brings up an interesting issue for me: What came 1st? The language or the worldview? As w/ the chicken & the egg, there doesn't strike me as being an acceptable simple answer. Some might claim that a worldview can't exist w/o a language to formulate it. I tend to think that feelings & intuition are pre-lingual & that they can formulate worldviews.

Let's say that you live in an environment where there're rattlesnakes. You may know that they can potentially kill you w/ their poison but that they're mostly likely to bite if you're perceived as a threat. It's not like rattlesnakes bite everything in their vicinity all day long. If they did, THEY wdn't live long. Now let's say you're a pre-lingual creature living near rattlesnakes but not threatened by them b/c you're not a threat to THEM. Doesn't THAT shape yr worldview? THEN, as language is born w/in yr ancestors, isn't there the chance that the language's worldview will partially grow out of that instinctual knowledge?

SO, maybe, just maybe, I'm arguing that pre-lingual states of mind shape worldviews that shape language that, in turn, further shapes the worldview. Once worldview & language coexist they inevitably shape each other simultaneously & feelings & intuition & whatnot are in there too.

I am a Whorfian hylozoist - not that that combination of words necessarily pre-exists my writing them.

"If the more familiar Romance languages seem under-represented, and the esoteric languages like Bantu, Kiriwana, or Navajo offered in abundance, it is because some people from obscure linguistic groups have come up with words that represent powerful ideas." - p 9

Is that what it is? Rheingold's readership is going to be mainly English speakers &, therefore, people more familiar w/ Romance language ideas than ones from other cultures. The mere fact that they're not likely to be familiar w/ the ideas in "Bantu, Kiriwana, or Navajo" is enuf to 'justify' exposing them/us to them. I'm thankful for that. I prefer not to be willfully ignorant. In general, I like Rheingold's attitude:

"This book differs from other amusing and intriguing collections of unusual words because these words are meant to be used. Some will make you see things differently, many will help you show others how to see in new ways. Don't worry about strict pronunciation. Go ahead and make these words an active part of your vocabulary. It is unlikely that a Kiriwina-speaking Trobriand islander will jump into your conversation to correct you. And if a person fluent in Navajo catches you in a slight mispronunciation, appreciation of your efforts will surely outweigh any reproach for your accent. Don't let the fear of criticism by the bores and Korinthenkackers (chapter five) affect you. You will find a confident power well up when you muster the courage to help expand the scope of out language." - p 10

THERE IS NO DEFINITIVE PRONUNCIATION OF ANY WORD. There, I've sd it, I've uttered what wd be blasphemy to the pompous, the pretentious. Well, don't fuck 'em (as opposed to "Fuck 'Em"). The pronunciation of a word is determined by who uses it. If you understand what they're saying then that pronunciation is ok for you. If you don't understand, ask them to repeat it & listen more intently. Sooner or later, you'll probably figure it out between the 2 of you if you get the chance. I remember being in a Scottish Fish'n'Chips shop & being asked by the counter-person what I wanted. I didn't understand a word but I knew what the context implied. It took me awhile to adapt to the Scots accent.. - but that didn't make it wrong - for either of us.

Is it more correct to say "Boo-lay" or "Boo-lez"? More corrected to say "Pen-der-reck-ee" or Pen-der-retz-ski"? I'd favor the pronunciation in the country that the person's from, if I know what that pronunciation is, but in a pinch either will do for me.

"Human beings . . . are very much at the mercy of the particular language which has become the medium of expression for their society. . . . The fact of the matter is that the "real world" is, to a large extent, unconsciously built up on the language habits of a group. . . . We see and hear and otherwise experience very largely as we do because the language habits of our community predispose certain choices of interpretation.

"Edward Sapir, The Relation of Habitual Thought and Behavior to Language" - p 13

Indeed? Imagine a child raised only on war words. What wd those words be w/o context? If those war words were used in non-warlike situations wd the child still be completely war-like? In other words, IMO, it's not just the words, it's also the feelings that accompany their use. What if a mother were to say: "I'll bomb the fuck out of you you inferior species" to their child as they rock them to sleep or suckle them? Imagine "real world" written as 'real world' or punned as 'reel world'.

I think of Jacob Wasserman's Caspar Hauser (1928) & of Werner Herzog's film Kaspar Hauser (1974) & of Paul Auster's City of Glass (1985) & of Umberto Eco's The Search for the Perfect Language (1995) - in other words, I think of the stories about children deprived of language as experiments to see whether there's any sort of language inherent w/in them. Of course, I'm addressing exceptions here & Sapir's addressing generalities.

Since Rheingold is neither the originator of this bk or the main researcher, his main function seems to be to organize, generalize, & comment. Each chapter has a theme, the 1st is "Human Family Affairs - People Words". The following quote will give the reader an idea of how he introduces the theme:

"On Easter Island, the words hakamaroo and tingo refer to different kinds of outrageous borrowing behavior. The Yiddish words tsuris and nakhes refer to two extreme emotions that only your son or daughter can invoke in you." - p 14

I'm less interested in Rheingold's philosophical contextualizing than I am in the actual words - wch, fortunately, are in sufficient abundance:

"ho'oponopono (Hawaiian)
Solving a problem by talking it out. [noun]


"A ho'oponopono (HO-OH-poh-no-poh-no) is a social gathering and healing process that combines the functions of a religious ceremony, group therapy, family counseling session, town-hall meeting, and small-claims court." - p 16

B/c of word limits, the review is cut off here. You can read the full review, "They Have a Word for "It"", here: https://www.goodreads.com/story/show/598455-they-have-a-word-for-it
… (mere)
tENTATIVELY | 9 andre anmeldelser | Apr 3, 2022 |
Enjoyable text that picks up on some greater hopes we could have for technology if we desired it. Not quite enough depth for more stars, but worth a look for some thought-poking.
6loss | 1 anden anmeldelse | Nov 7, 2019 |
Instead of asking whether the Web is making us stupid, Howard Rheingold turns that question around and asks how designing and using digital media mindfully could make us smarter. What if humans could build tools that leverage our ability to think, communicate, and cooperate? We invented social learning, speech, writing, alphabets, printing, computers, and the Internet, which means we should be systematically directing the evolution of intellectual augmentation. 'Mind Amplifier: Can Our Digital Tools Make Us Smarter?' examines the origins of digital mind-extending tools, and then lays out the foundations for their future. Rheingold proposes an applied, interdisciplinary science of mind amplification. He also unveils a new protocol for developing techno-cognitive-social technologies that embrace empathy, mindfulness, and compassion ? elements lacking from existing digital mind-tools.… (mere)
jhawn | 1 anden anmeldelse | Jul 31, 2017 |


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