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<nettime> The arrival of the neo-nomads.
Patrice Riemens on Sun, 22 Jul 2007 16:11:40 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> The arrival of the neo-nomads.

Found bwo of my friend Meinhard Benn's Wiki page/mini conf on the same
subject: http://wiki.benn.org/NeoNomadCollective

in order to check the (many) hyperlinks, click to:

>From Thomas Jankowski's blog:

Neonomads, or how travels, collaboration, virtualization and motivation
are entering a new era

Blogged under digital bedouin, vmware, virtualization, technomads,
Technology, World, homeless, internet, Musings by tejot on Friday 20 April
2007 at 16:56

The term neo-nomad (aka neonomad, digital bedouin) is rather new. In fact,
it still lacks a formal definition although the neologism itself is simple
enough to understand. A new type of a nomad; a wanderer, someone without a
fixed sense of belonging? The way it has been used thus far refers, very
generally, to people who take their work with them. In America, this
usually applies to the vast amount of web 2.0 startup execs and other
self-employed tech workers roaming around in the Bay area. They are
sometimes referred to as the Starbucks society, since that is the
preferred meeting place of the neo-nomads. Quite aptly so - all major
Starbucks locations have excellent wi-fi through a partnership with
T-Mobile, and have a corporate feel to them - it is here that one can run
into execs from Google, Flickr, or a dozen other hot, new startups.
(they're also known in Wired terminology as 'Road Warriors' -PR ;-)

Bill Thompson's use of the term seems a bit more embracing of the
neo-nomad mentality. As he points out, "it's the pattern of working life
that defines a nomad, with no office, colleagues who are largely engaged
with online and often a number of overlapping projects to be juggled and
managed at the same time". That's the type of a definition I'm more
inclined to lean towards; the newness of this new approach should not be
political in nature - whether it's the independents or the corporates who
are 'it', or whether 'it' offers more or less of job security.

Yasmine Abbas' neo-nomad blog talks about "digitally geared people on the
move". That's even better in a way, since the focus has been shifted to
the interface, the design, and the socio-cultural aspects of this novelty.
Much needs to change before assuring sufficient portability for such new
workers to feel totally free. Bill Thompson has already pointed out that
managing larger enterprises in an entirely virtual fashion may be
problematic as there is no current infrastructure that can support
large-scale enterprises comprised of neo-nomads.

But that, too, is changing. Just a few years ago this was a field reserved
for a small amount of highly determined technocrats. Nowadays, with the
advent of much cheaper and lighter laptops, with fairly easy access to
broadband internet, and with the continuing onslaught of highly
collaborative projects, being a neo-nomad is proving more and more
feasible. Almost all bloggers who have made the switch to full time
blogging are fully virtual. Most programmers and writers can also find
similar opportunities all over the world, especially since guru.com,
rentacoder.com and other similar ventures have started to spring up and
offer a sort of a platform for location-independent work. Even the most
"regular" people have found ways of monetizing new frontiers, such as
SecondLife, WoW or RuneScape.
What I would like to see is a further expansion of this definition that
would focus on the mobility of a true nomad. Bedouins never felt at ease
staying in one place for too long? neither do some of the neo-nomads. To
be able to travel extensively and work while on the road would be ideal,
but that is still difficult to accomplish these days. Wi-fi access is
becoming almost common-place in the U.S. and Canada, but even in West
Europe it is at best spotty, especially outside of the major commercial
centres. The fact that there's a multitude of incompatible wi-fi providers
and oftentimes one needs to subscribe to a number of various services does
not help. I once paid over $100 in one day for just under four hours of
Internet use at four different airports. Traveling with more than one
laptop because of proprietary security concerns or machine-assigned VPN
accounts has also reduced my mobility at times.

Nonetheless, this too is starting to change. WiMax sounds promising as an
alternative to other forms of broadband; so does the recently investigated
idea of direct satellite access without having to route the signal through
terrestrial stations. For now, GPRS and 3G networks offer
'anytime/anywhere' access in quite impressive remote places. While
pitching a tent in Antarctica is not quite yet doable, Kenya should not
longer pose a problem. In fact, I have deployed servers on other
continents from campsites before and I'm just waiting for a more global
Internet coverage to take the deserts of Africa or the jungles of South
America (perhaps the new protocols developed by the InterPlaNet initiative
might help with access in any remote area).

Finally, the ways to bypass the shortcomings of traditional security
practices (without limiting their effectiveness), are starting to increase
as well. Virtualization, using VMWare or Microsoft Virtual PC, is probably
the easiest way of accomplishing this step. Almost any setup, be it a
laptop, a desktop, or even a server, can be packaged into a virtual image
and then redeployed on a machine of one's choice without disrupting the
host system. In effect, my protected company laptop can be made to run
"inside" of my own laptop. Advanced IT skills are not required for this,
nor is a high-end laptop. My $700 light Acer, with a memory upgrade to 2GB
and a slightly faster hard drive can handle 3-4 virtual machines running
on top of my usual interface.

Couple all of the above with user-provided wi-fi access points, a will to
see some of this world, and some motivation, and the neo-nomads'
playground increases exponentially. I can have a coffee outside of Sicily,
admiring the Mediterranean, almost just as easily as at the Bay area
Starbucks. Last year I was actively working while touring some wineries
around Bordeaux and on a bus some 60 miles outside of Madrid. Even my
biggest pet-peeve, battery-life, seems to be finally getting addressed?

Cruising along the virtual landscape while admiring the physical
landscapes outside is becoming a unified and realistic experience. Now,
that is the future.

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