What Howard Rheingold is Optimistic About

Every year, John Brockman asks a question of a widespread community of thinkers and publishes it on Edge.org. “What are you optimistic about?”

Howard Rheingold: “The tools for cultural production and distribution are in the pockets of 14 year olds. This does not guarantee that they will do the hard work of democratic self-governance: the tools that enable the free circulation of information and communication of opinion are necessary but not sufficient for the formation of public opinion.

Recent polls indicate that a majority of today’s youth — the “digital natives” for whom laptops and wireless Internet connections are part of the environment, like electricity and running water — have created as well as consumed online content. I think this bodes well for the possibility that they will take the repair of the world into their own hands, instead of turning away from civic issues, or turning to nihilistic destruction.”

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