According to Wikipedia, "Howard Rheingold (born July 7, 1947) is a critic and writer; his specialties are on the cultural, social and political implications of modern communication media such as the Internet, mobile telephony and virtual communities (a term he is credited with inventing)."
I met Howard a long time ago by Internet standards - in the early 1980's... before The Web. *gasp* We were both heavily involved in online services and their forums like The Source, CompuServe, The Meta Network, Delphi and others. We were both part of an organization called "The Electronic Network Association". I think that Howard was the editor of the Whole Earth Review back then. I was still in High School and Howard was a distant guru-like figure for me back then.
Later, when I moved to (part of my base) to San Francisco, I got to know Howard better and he became one of my cyber-gurus who together with Timothy Leary, taught me the history of the Hippy and New Age movements and got me plugged into that corner of the San Francisco universe.
Howard has invited me to his home a number of times for long chats while walking in the mountains or sitting in his garden. Listening to Howard talk about his garden and his life in this environment is super-inspiring and is one of the main reasons that I've recently thrown myself into trying to grow my own food and make my own compost.
Howard is incredibly well read and has provided me with more life-changing books than anyone else I know and has recently succeeded in getting me to start drawing and thinking of art in a new light. This has been a big factor in my increased attention to the quality of my photography.
Howard contributed to my business history as well. In 1993, Howard wrote about me in an article in Wired and also mentioned me in his book, The Virtual Community. Cyrus Shaoul, a fellow ASIJ graduate, read the article and sent me an email about wanting to get together. This eventually led to the formation of Eccosys, my first successful company.