Howard and I have known each other for a long time. I visited Howard often when he was at the Whole Earth Review and I was hanging out in San Francisco with Timothy Leary and the gang. Howard turned me on to a lot of really interesting thoughts and was one of the first people who helped me started writing. Howard wrote THE book on Virtual Reality which influenced me and the rest of the world and I ended up working with (my now step-brother) Scott Fisher at Telepresence Research who Howard writes about in the book. After the Virtual Reality book, he wrote a book on Virtual Communities in which I appeared. (Maybe the first time I appeared in an English Book.) Howard has always been a great visionary for the future and I'm happy to be a part of it. When the www started to happen, my Eccosys team and I set up one of the first web sites in Japan. Howard writes about how this influenced his thinking. These days we talk about Smartmobs ubiquitous computing and the future of embedded systems. As always, community and empowerment are key.
Howard and I talked a lot about how to be an evangelist for the future. We talked about the issue of how to give credit where credit is due, but how it is often difficult to credit people who you do not know about or who haven't influenced your thinking directly. (As I've recently discovered once again, when Japanese diary community criticized my description of blogs.) Howard told me that there was a saying in the I Ching that says something like, "If you climb up on the wall, you can see farther, but you also become an easier target." This is extremely relevant. We talked about how some criticism is very important, no matter how hurting it is, to internalize, since it will help us grow. Some criticism is important in order to understand how people will view us, and some criticism should just be ignored. Sorting this out is quite a task, but necessary and important. We agreed that learning from your critics helps you fix sloppy thoughts as well as prevent mistakes in the future.
On the other hand, what's a pioneer without critics? One chairman of a large company I know said, "I don't trust ANYONE who doesn't have some enemies." I don't know who to credit this to, but "You can identify the pioneers because they are the ones with the arrows in their backs." Stan Ovshinsky says this often.
So, my conclusion? Give credit to those you influence you or are doing important work. Listen to the critics, be thick-skinned and keep on truckin'.