27/07/2009

Digital nomads

MIAMI BEACH, FLORIDA - OCTOBER 02:  Michelle Z...Image by Getty Images via Daylife

Teleworker’s sick of working from home or who crave some human company form a chunk of digital nomads. There also those who like to work with their co-workers or business partners in an informal atmosphere. Another section that make up the digital nomads, are those who like the informality and community feeling generated through these clans.

The common thread that runs through out digital nomads is their desire for unstructured surroundings, namely public places and of course the availability of Wi-Fi connection. In fact, Dell the computer manufacturer has joined the cause by powering a website called Digital Nomads and claims that the website is a “community site for individuals that work or play without regard for their physical location. It is a place where they can come together to read about other digital nomads, share ideas, tips and tricks, and best practices, and read the latest nomad-oriented news. Digital Nomads live a lifestyle where their laptop and other electronic devices create the center of their office and/or play-space.”

Catering to this life style (needs Premium Subscription) is Christopher Waters. He opened the Nomad Café in 2003, just as Wi-Fi “hotspots” were mushrooming all around town. His idea was to provide a watering hole for “techno-Bedouins” such as himself, he says. Since Bedouins, whether in Arabian deserts or American suburbs, are inherently tribal and social creatures, he understood from the outset that a good oasis has to do more than provide Wi-Fi; it must also become a new—or very old—kind of gathering place. He thought of calling his café the “Gypsy Spirit Mission”, which also captures the theme of mobility, but settled for the simpler Nomad.

The fact that recession has increased the use of freelancers or consultants by corporate has in no measure added to the numbers of digital nomads. This does not mean there is no down side to Digital Nomadism. They face the same problems faced by the self-employed and the problems arising out of the limits of technology.

A study by the Mobile phone visionary, Christian Lindholm, now Partner and Director at Fjord, reveal the "pain points" of mobile user experience: battery-life as a constant worrying issue, data-roaming cost that restrain demand, the importance of laptop compared to smart phones, etc.

Despite these hindrances, there is much in favour of leading a digital nomadic life. For starters, can anything beat working on the beach?


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