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The Rise of the Digital Nomad

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the must-be-jelly dept.

The Internet 273

krou writes "The Washington Post has a look at the rise of the digital nomad, workers who have shunned the idea of working in an office, or working from home. Instead, they've taken the next logical step in the evolution of teleworking, and work wherever there is a Wi-Fi or 3G connection, using tools such as Facebook, Skype, and Twitter, to gain both primitive ('If I'm working at home by myself, I am really hating life. I need people.') and practical ('There is no hope for the road system around here.') benefits from this nomadic lifestyle. The need for contact with other people has driven some nomads to start working with others in public places and at strangers' homes. Other benefits from nomadic working include changing the scenery, and starting the work day 'long after many of their colleagues out at the cubicle farm have spent hours preparing for and getting to their workstations.' Coffee shop owners love the trend, and so do some employers, one of whom (an AOL manager), says: 'It's a win-win' because the employee in question 'is happy doing what he loves and from a business perspective, we gain valuable industry knowledge, contacts, and insights.'"

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Ive seen these people (5, Funny)

Haffner (1349071) | more than 5 years ago | (#28857211)

Shunning traditional aspects of society? Check. On the cutting edge of some new trend? Check. Hang out frequently in coffee shops? Check. This should have been titled "Mac-Toting Hipsters Eschew Tradition to Look Cool, Again."

Re:Ive seen these people (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28857273)

Shunning traditional aspects of society? Check. On the cutting edge of some new trend? Check. Hang out frequently in coffee shops? Check. This should have been titled "Mac-Toting Hipsters Eschew Tradition to Look Cool, Again."

Still your mouth or the nomadosphere will set to you like dogs on a wounded cat!

Re:Ive seen these people (0, Troll)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 5 years ago | (#28857305)

Erm, have you seen the masthead of this site? Except the coffeshop part it describes almost all of us here.

Re:Ive seen these people (1, Redundant)

sanosuke001 (640243) | more than 5 years ago | (#28857423)

Speak for yourself... I'm not a hipster don't try to look cool or own any Apple brand products.

Re:Ive seen these people (1, Funny)

Vaginal_flatulence (1153821) | more than 5 years ago | (#28857819)

not a hipster? what the fuck is "Sano" then - oh, you're a douche, not a hipster. got it.

Re:Ive seen these people (1, Insightful)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 5 years ago | (#28857843)

I didn't say anything about "cool", it's about shunning traditional aspects of society and being on the cutting edge. I'd say that's most of us here.

Re:Ive seen these people (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28857939)

Mac cutting edge? Read your specs! Your about a year behind the infamous PC. Mac's suck and so do their fanboys.

Re:Ive seen these people (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28857875)

That just makes you a badly dressed loner who thinks Linux is a good operating system. Luckily, there are only about 1 of your smelly hippy type to every 1,000,000 smart and sleek hipster mac users.

Re:Ive seen these people (0, Troll)

spiffmastercow (1001386) | more than 5 years ago | (#28857879)

Well, I'm certainly no hipster, but I can see the advantages of their software. The combination of a unix environment with the "just works" design principle and a standardized user interface is compelling. Of course I would never actually purchase their 400% marked up hardware, but I don't mind buying a copy of OSX and using it to build a hackintosh. If you like unixy OSes and aren't ideologically motivated to use only FOSS, Apple is the place to go.

Re:Ive seen these people (4, Insightful)

lessthan (977374) | more than 5 years ago | (#28857371)

Please, cutting new trend? More like "Leeches find new ways not to pay for things." I see those types of people around the local coffee shop. Most of the time they don't even buy anything. I know a lot of people are going to blame the coffee shop for not securing the network for paying customers only, but human decency is supposed to fill that gap.

Re:Ive seen these people (1, Funny)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 5 years ago | (#28857951)

Leeches find new ways not to pay for things

Are you paying for that air you're breathing? Are you paying for that rain that waters your lawn and garden? It doesn't cost the coffe shop owner a dime for you to "leech" his wifi. IMO a "leech" would be someone who grabs a handful of ketchup packets at the fast food joint; that actually costs the business owner money. If I set up a wifi network, I'll not secure it; that would be selfish and I'd feel like an asshole. I just wasn't brought up like that.

I don't frequent coffee shops, but when I see someone with a laptop in McDonald's They're almost always at least having a cup of coffee.

Re:Ive seen these people (4, Insightful)

YouWantFriesWithThat (1123591) | more than 5 years ago | (#28858123)

learn to read, man. he said: "most of the time they don't even buy anything" which would mean that they are inside the shop and without a cup of coffee.

this kind of leech does cost something, as they are using up 2 finite resources: bandwidth and a table. i have seen it myself and it pisses me off when there are no tables left and i bought something.

Re:Ive seen these people (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 5 years ago | (#28858289)

You didn't read my post either. I said when I'm at McDonald's, I almost never see anyone with a laptop that doesn't at least have a cup of coffee. If he's using a table and not buying anything, then he is annoying people. But like I said, I haven't seen that. I have seen geezers reading a dead tree newspaper in there without anything but the paper in front of them, though.

Re:Ive seen these people (2, Insightful)

PitaBred (632671) | more than 5 years ago | (#28857953)

The coffee shop can always ask them to leave. It's not against the law to kick people out who are impeding your business. If it were, we could all just go down to Wal-Mart and skateboard the aisles all day.

Re:Ive seen these people (1)

Shatrat (855151) | more than 5 years ago | (#28858215)

Better hope Henry Louis Gates isn't one of the freeloaders that's been taking up an entire table all morning....

Re:Ive seen these people (1)

Hadlock (143607) | more than 5 years ago | (#28858217)

I see you're a charter member of the "bored teenagers at midnight in suburbia" club. But do you know the secret handshake involving bouncing basketballs over the bicycle rack?

Re:Ive seen these people (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28857965)

If the Internet was free and public like it was (and could be again), then this wouldn't be a problem.

Re:Ive seen these people (2)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 5 years ago | (#28858205)

the Internet is free. the hardware used to connect to it is not.

Re:Ive seen these people (2, Insightful)

Bakkster (1529253) | more than 5 years ago | (#28858343)

Someone needs to pay for the infrastructure to be built (the ISP), so those who access it need to pay for their usage. There's no such thing as 'free and public' as long as it requires an infrastructure.

Sure, we could turn the internet into a public work, but we'd still be paying for it (that's what taxes are for). Are we sure we want the FCC in charge of running fiber?

Re:Ive seen these people (1)

rwbaskette (9363) | more than 5 years ago | (#28858273)

It's been a kind of known-common-courtesy in the circles I run with that you buy a few drinks and leave an enormous tip if you plan on spending any amount of time in a coffee shop.

Re:Ive seen these people (4, Funny)

QuantumRiff (120817) | more than 5 years ago | (#28857479)

Why pick on us? I just want to look different, just like all my friends...

Re:Ive seen these people (1)

thisnamestoolong (1584383) | more than 5 years ago | (#28858097)

Yeah, all non-conformists drink coffee and smoke cigarettes...

Re:Ive seen these people (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28857531)

Try to put yourself in their flippie-floppies for once, you insensitive clod. IANAL but IHMO they aren't trying to look cool.
On the contrary, they are social and technological pioneers who don't care about public opinion and only receive admiration from others due to their fortitude of character and unique personalities. I think.

I apoligize in advance for boarding on a completely off-topic train of thought: do the office managers like this because they don't have to pay for office space? Again, sorry for derailing your discussion.

Re:Ive seen these people (2, Insightful)

Brian Gordon (987471) | more than 5 years ago | (#28857887)

The only reason they buy a mac is because it's a fashion icon. That's why you see them sitting on the library steps with the mac on one knee, and walking around in designer clothes with the conspicuous and awful white earbuds. It's because they care about public opinion.

Re:Ive seen these people (2, Interesting)

TheNarrator (200498) | more than 5 years ago | (#28858369)

They bought a mac for the same reason they do Yoga, and bought a Prius and an expensive baby stroller. They read about it on Stuff White People Like [stuffwhitepeoplelike.com]

Re:Ive seen these people (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28857867)

From where I'm from, I don't think working from in a coffee shop would be very beneficial to productivity ..

flexible ad-hoc projects is the wave of the future (1, Funny)

alain94040 (785132) | more than 5 years ago | (#28857225)

shameless plug: the digital nomad also cut loose all links with cubicle nation, including the employee contract. Instead, they work on agile projects, where groups of people can dynamically recombine online using stuff like online deals [fairsoftware.net] .

Re:flexible ad-hoc projects is the wave of the fut (4, Insightful)

CorporateSuit (1319461) | more than 5 years ago | (#28857473)

That's fine for people who don't want or need something like a "steady income" and projects for companies who don't care about things like a contractor's reputation. This sort of thing is good for people with either:

A) Large personal portfolios but small enough egos that they can fit their heads into a room with enough strangers to collaborate on a project that may take weeks
OR
B) Kids looking to start a portfolio or gain work experience.

An interesting concept, to say the least. If done with due dilligence, it could lend a hand with those who do this sort of thing in their off-time but cannot be bothered to market themselves. I wouldn't go as far as to say it will replace the cubicle for 95% of the world's digital gears.

Re:flexible ad-hoc projects is the wave of the fut (1)

alain94040 (785132) | more than 5 years ago | (#28857571)

True. 95% of the workforce is way too risk-averse. On the other hand, there is no arguing that people's attitudes are changing. The 9-5 job today is so ingrained in our culture that very few are questioning it.

20 years from now, the current generation, raised on multitasking iPhone/IM/FaceBook may continue to multitask in the workplace by working on several projects at the same time. Will we still have 9-5 day jobs with cubicles, assuming telepresence will be good enough that you could work anywhere with anyone and not be impacted by the distance?

Re:flexible ad-hoc projects is the wave of the fut (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28858237)

9-5? Where the hell are you working? It sounds like heaven. I'm expected to work whatever it takes to get the job done, which usually translates into a 8-6 or 7-6 job.

Re:flexible ad-hoc projects is the wave of the fut (1)

OakDragon (885217) | more than 5 years ago | (#28858395)

...the digital nomad also cut loose all links with cubicle nation, including the employee contract. Instead, they work on agile projects, where groups of people can dynamically recombine online...

Yes, but can they monetize that synergy using the cloud computing paradigm?

Workation (4, Insightful)

KraftDinner (1273626) | more than 5 years ago | (#28857285)

Seems more like it's just people who want to feel like they're on vacation all the time instead of at work. Don't get me wrong, I'm not against it. I just think the label "Digital Nomad" is a bit of a stretch.

Re:Workation (3, Funny)

sunking2 (521698) | more than 5 years ago | (#28857373)

They need to make it sound cool like "Road Warrior", because sitting on your ass traveling requires a name sounds tough. As soon as you kill someone on your next business trip you shouldn't be able to use that label.

Re:Workation: New definition (1)

dykmoby (830547) | more than 5 years ago | (#28857721)

indigigent

Digital Nomad (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28857297)

Formerly known as bum.

Re:Digital Nomad (4, Funny)

Allicorn (175921) | more than 5 years ago | (#28858147)

Latterly to be known as the "iHobo"

Re:Digital Nomad (1)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 5 years ago | (#28858337)

The female of the species was known as a tramp, right?

I've seen these people too (5, Funny)

iamapizza (1312801) | more than 5 years ago | (#28857301)

If you're "using tools such as Facebook, Skype, and Twitter" in coffee shops for your job, then I'm afraid I've got news for you - dicking around on your Mac for attention does not actually constitute working. It constitutes "dicking around".

Also, who are you going to play table football with? Huh? Huh? Huh? Huh?

Re:I've seen these people too (4, Funny)

vertinox (846076) | more than 5 years ago | (#28857357)

If you're "using tools such as Facebook, Skype, and Twitter" in coffee shops for your job, then I'm afraid I've got news for you - dicking around on your Mac for attention does not actually constitute working.

Unless you happen to be a spammer using the local wifi to spam people's facebook accounts.

Of course its not much as your dicking around as you're just a dick.

Re:I've seen these people too (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28857617)

Why is this flamebait? He makes a great point.

Re:I've seen these people too (1)

Chibinium (1596211) | more than 5 years ago | (#28858189)

While this should be available for those whose jobs demand such on-demand work, I don't see it as the inevitable destiny of work itself. Time and space proximity are as salient as...well, time and space!

Part-time nomad, here (1)

mcrbids (148650) | more than 5 years ago | (#28858261)

The article summary is kind of lame - it's hard to argue that Facebook is anything work-related except in very light doses. But the main idea is completely real, and reflects my lifestyle, at least part of the time!

I have a laptop and a 3G wireless card. I usually work 'at work' but when I travel for business or pleasure, I pretty much always have them with me and I work almost as well at the local Starbucks, airport, hotel lobby, McDonald's, or living room as at the office. SSH, DAV/SSL, and OpenVPN are your friends, here!

I took a 1-week 'work-ation' this spring and went to Yosemite Park. I still put in work days, but rather than sit in the office, I was in a folding chair with power providedg by an inverter in the car.

BTW: I'm typing this on my WinMo phone in a restaurant over lunch. I routinely answer email and schedule from the phone, too. Thanks to Zimbra, I can coordinate my schedule with the office staff, too. 'Digital Nomad' isn't a buzz word, it's how my life works!

A.K.A.: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28857303)

Homeless [youtube.com] .

Yours In Socialism,
Kilgore Trout

Never work for me... (1)

Mashiki (184564) | more than 5 years ago | (#28857317)

Nice to look at and pretend, but for some parts of society it'll never happen. Some of us will always end up going into an office, being out on patrol, or dealing with the public when all hell breaks loose.

Re:Never work for me... (1)

vertinox (846076) | more than 5 years ago | (#28857465)

Nice to look at and pretend, but for some parts of society it'll never happen. Some of us will always end up going into an office, being out on patrol, or dealing with the public when all hell breaks loose.

Actually, I suspect the people who read slashdot are actually being marginalized by technology. Most nerd/geeks types like technology but they also don't like change and leaving the house. We tend to be territorial and collect lots of things that require a place to live (you know starwars toys, anime collection, server farms).

But there is a subset of society which doesn't mind living out of a hotel room.

I wouldn't call these the movers and shakers, but in all major companies these people basically live out of the hotel room with their blackberry and laptop going from one convention, sales deal, meeting to the next.

Its quite more common than you think and these people have just as much of a grasp on technology as you do because a lot of them now have grown up with the internet as a household item.

Still can't take away my server farm from my cold dead hands though...

Re:Never work for me... (1)

Brian Gordon (987471) | more than 5 years ago | (#28857933)

...books?

Old fashioned attitudes (5, Interesting)

BigHungryJoe (737554) | more than 5 years ago | (#28857351)

Am I the only one with an employer that has the attitude "If I can't see you working, you aren't working"?

In fact, the last few companies I've worked at have been like that. Maybe I've just been unlucky, but "working from home" hasn't been an option at any point in my career.

Re:Old fashioned attitudes (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 5 years ago | (#28857387)

Depends on how you are getting paid. If you get paid hourly forget about it or if your payment figures in any sort of time.

Re:Old fashioned attitudes (1)

iamhigh (1252742) | more than 5 years ago | (#28857441)

A lot of the people I know that "work from home" are the people that travel at least 26 weeks out of the year. They work from home because it makes no sense to have an empty office sitting there for them.

But this article sucks balls. The website linked to has like 30 members each with about 2 posts (but its the next big thing right... so we have to be on top of it). Lame.

Re:Old fashioned attitudes (1)

SkipFrehly (1606577) | more than 5 years ago | (#28857535)

No, you are not alone, although I was just able to call my boss a "dick wad," a "c*nt rag" and "testicle mouth" right before asking if I could go home early. He said yes. See you guys tomorrow!

Re:Old fashioned attitudes (1)

Nursie (632944) | more than 5 years ago | (#28857549)

I work from home on occasion. My employer (I'm not going to say who as I don't speak for them, but they are a very large business) is generally pretty good about flexible working patterns, so long as you're productive.

Some of my team-mates work from home more often than not. I only do it when I need to stay at home for some reason (packages arriving, heating engineer, that sort of stuff).

I have worked from the pub. One of our team had a family emergency and went to canada for several months and worked as usual from there.

It's good to be a software engineer :)

Re:Old fashioned attitudes (3, Interesting)

captainClassLoader (240591) | more than 5 years ago | (#28857837)

I've been working in this fashion for several years now. My company has employees here and there all over the US. And the buzzworthy social networking sites have nothing to do with communication, which is all done via IM and LiveMeeting inside the VPN, and phones. About once every other year I go to company HQ for a meeting, but all other times, I'm wherever - Generally at home, but sometimes at the local public libraries, or at bookstores and coffee shops. As long as the work gets done, my company doesn't care when you work or where.

Re:Old fashioned attitudes (1)

vertinox (846076) | more than 5 years ago | (#28857715)

Am I the only one with an employer that has the attitude "If I can't see you working, you aren't working"?

I've worked for several companies that support people who work from home.

These people are usually sales reps or regional managers who by the nature of the job don't have a single place of work. Of course these people are generally results driven so if they don't make sales or their region falls apart then its fairly obvious.

But there are a lot of businesses who don't need a manager breathing down your neck all the time to get work done.

Re:Old fashioned attitudes (1)

hab136 (30884) | more than 5 years ago | (#28857735)

"working from home" hasn't been an option at any point in my career.

Could be worse - you could have to be present at work during the day, and then work from home on top of that.

Re:Old fashioned attitudes (1)

gambino21 (809810) | more than 5 years ago | (#28858009)

When I worked at Motorola about 10 years ago they tried to pull that. We were given laptops and told that we could work from home. Unfortunately we were also expected to be in the office at least 40 hours a week. Hopefully they changed their policies somewhat since I left there several years ago.

Remember one thing about telecommuting (5, Insightful)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 5 years ago | (#28857375)

The datalink/wire/pipe/tube that lets you work from Starbucks, extends all the way to Bangalore.

If all you need is a VPN connection to home office to be productive, suddenly Indians and Chinese and Israelis and Irishman can bid for and compete for the same job. You may feel you are on top of the game and this does not pose any immediate threat to your job. Even if the job is safe, the salaries will be lower because there are people willing to do the same job for less pay, less benefits. Eventually someone will learn to do your job, do it better than you and will be willing to accept lower pay than you.

Unlike the H1Bs, these workers do not pay taxes to USA nor do they spend the money in the local shops and take vacations within USA. It is prospect of getting cheap labor from these countries that prompt corporate America to promote telecommuting. Remember that.

Re:Remember one thing about telecommuting (2, Insightful)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 5 years ago | (#28857433)

It depends on what you do though. For a lot of projects that involve designing stuff, usually people want to meet in person, sketch out a layout of the site and then I can e-mail them with the final results. That isn't going to get outsourced anytime soon because a lot of people want a physical person there to add accountability.

Re:Remember one thing about telecommuting (2, Insightful)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | more than 5 years ago | (#28857731)

If all you need is a VPN connection to home office to be productive, suddenly Indians and Chinese and Israelis and Irishman can bid for and compete for the same job.

This is true, but how will they get the job in the first place? When telecommuting so long as your code gets checked in and works, many employers are happy. Many of those same employers, however, will balk at hiring a coder they haven sat down and talked to face to face.

In the long term, however, there will absolutely be more and more work done remotely and put up for bids around the world to the detriment of people living in places with a high cost of living. Of course the whole outsourcing versus internal growth thing swings back and forth over time. The former provides more agility and lower risks in some cases, but also reduces in house talent, generates new, trained competitors, and shrinks headcount and accompanying power of managers within the company. If the only thing you have going for you over the average worker in the third world is that you're physically closer, well that sucks, even if it will be enough of an advantage much of the time.

Re:Remember one thing about telecommuting (1)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 5 years ago | (#28858185)

This is true, but how will they get the job in the first place?

Please sit down as it might come as a shock to you. There are lots of people whose job is to find jobs that could be done remotely and find people to do it on the other end.

Re:Remember one thing about telecommuting (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28857757)

and Irishman can bid for and compete for the same job.

No Irish need apply! Those fucking micks can go fuck their devil pope in HELL!

Re:Remember one thing about telecommuting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28857891)

Except that only the Baby Boomers were into giving contracts to people in foreign countries. The GenX/Y/Millenials who are replacing them all want to be able to "identify" with their workers in some way, which is pretty hard to do when staring at a bunch of aliens on the other side of the planet.

Re:Remember one thing about telecommuting (1)

Mistah Blue (519779) | more than 5 years ago | (#28857909)

To a point this could be true. However, if you are customer facing (and specifically are required to be onsite at customer sites frequently) it would be difficult to be out-sourced. I have been fortunate to officially office from home my almost 9 years at my current company - and I've been customer facing (requiring lots of travel and onsite) the whole time.

Re:Remember one thing about telecommuting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28858361)

The datalink/wire/pipe/tube that lets you leech free internet access from Starbucks, extends all the way to Bangalore.

There, fixed that for ya.

It has nothing to do with "being a nomad". There are two reasons people hang out around public (and unsecured private) wifi spots. 1. To look cool 2. To not pay for internet.

Re:Remember one thing about telecommuting (2, Insightful)

DorkRawk (719109) | more than 5 years ago | (#28858383)

This is certainly true. If 100% of what you do can be done remotely, then there is nothing stopping your employer from outsourcing your job to a cheaper worker in India. But if you can do 80-95% of what you do remotely, but ALSO be able to come into the office every once in a while for a full team face to face, or visit a client if need be (without the cost of a plane ticket to and from India), then this really is a good value. Even if you're not in the office, a good manager knows the difference between an employee who's 50 miles away and one who's 5000.

Work Outisde the Lab? (1)

TheKidWho (705796) | more than 5 years ago | (#28857381)

Impossible! Whose going to calibrate my Gigawatt laser if I'm out having coffee??

I mean come on people, there are freaking sharks here just waiting to have freaking laser beams attached to their head. It's not like sharks just start naturally growing lasers out of their heads due to evolutionary mutations...

Hrmm that's an idea.

Re:Work Outisde the Lab? (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 5 years ago | (#28858137)

It's not like sharks just start naturally growing lasers out of their heads due to evolutionary mutations...

I see you've never met my ex-wife.

Sounds familiar (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28857393)

The need for contact with other people has driven some nomads to start working with others in public places and at strangers' homes..

Hey, that sounds like the president and CEO of the company I used to work at. Makes $250k/year and half the time he uses his BB to post updates to Facebook every hour while in public places.

The other half of his time he's busy boning his assistant who makes $150k/year and doesn't even have work or college experience. Maybe that qualifies as "working" at a stranger's home? Hopefully it is at one of their houses, because the assistant is really ugly and I would hate to walk into a coffee shop and see them getting it on.

Coffee Shops (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28857429)

As someone who frequents one of the coffee shops mentioned (the excellent Java Shack), I find people like this annoying simply for the fact that they tie up a table all day. In small coffee shops, it can be tough to find a spot to sit when you have people sitting there all day with a ton of gear.

It sounds like the owners don't mind, so what can you do?

Re:Coffee Shops (1)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 5 years ago | (#28857855)

Open a coffee shop? :)

Yeah I'm gonna end up like that. (1)

EvilBudMan (588716) | more than 5 years ago | (#28857445)

1.) Homeless

2.) Buy laptop or better yet cabbage it.

3.) Go to free spot and fire up Botnet.

4.) Finally, profit.

5.) Get whacked by Russian mafia ;-(

There is definitely something I'm not getting here.

Re:Yeah I'm gonna end up like that. (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 5 years ago | (#28858089)

There is definitely something I'm not getting here.

You missed a step and got them out of order.

  1. Homeless
  2. Buy laptop or better yet cabbage it. [homeless people usually can't afford to buy them, so...
  3. Go to free spot and fire up Botnet.
  4. Get whacked by Russian mafia (in soviet russia...)
  5. ?????????
  6. PROFIT!!!!

But the IRS will bite you... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28857501)

I'm a consultant, I run my own show and I have a regular stable of customers. I have remote access to all pieces I need to poke, I have skills that require little interaction beyond the planning, and I like to travel. My problem is if I'm locally available customers will put a very high demand on me. So I solve it with travel from time to time, I go to another city and sit there and have high intensity days where I focus on single projects alone. Now I'm having the IRS chase me as they don't see these expenses as work related, and figure that if I'm not at a customer site or at an office, then I don't work, and all my expense claims have been labelled bogus.

YMMW.

-B

Human Nature (4, Interesting)

Colourspace (563895) | more than 5 years ago | (#28857503)

I'm just about to go back to working from home. I did it for seven years, but left a job today where I'd been in the office 9-5 with the same people, and I got to say I was sad to leave primarily because the last year there has been so good from the point of view of having people to bounce things off and just as importantly have fun with. As a consequence I have been thinking about this very thing. It won't be practical (or even desirable) to work in a coffee shop all day everyday, but I will make some effort to get out there more often to some local Wifi hotspots. OK, so I'm not going to necessarily talk to anyone, but the hustle and bustle of a public location has got to be better than sitting around in my flat, eating cereal and scratching my nuts. (mental note don't scratch in public).

And this works with .. (2, Informative)

OzPeter (195038) | more than 5 years ago | (#28857541)

The three computers I have on my desk, the pile of reference books and the large pile of printouts that I have been marking up. Plus the ability to walk away and get a rest break with having to ensure that my stash is safely locked away.

And yes I need this mess. One of the computers isn't mine and the other two are totally different architectures. And the printouts are schematics of a ship that I am doing work on

Re:And this works with .. (1)

DaveV1.0 (203135) | more than 5 years ago | (#28857611)

In other words, because it won't work in your particular situation, you think it is stupid and unworkable for everyone.

If my employer would allow it, I could easily take up the "digital nomad" lifestyle because all I need to do my job is a laptop and my brain.

Re:And this works with .. (1)

tkohler (806572) | more than 5 years ago | (#28858145)

Well, this can certainly go too far in the other direction. As in the company makes you a PERMENANT "Work from home" employee. Not as in fired, but as in "no cubicle"-be a remote worker. I have colleagues who are full-time "remote workers" and they are often starved for human connection and are certainly out of the loop as far as office gossip, mood, and even work-related hallway conversations. That said, working at home is my most productive time.

Do Coffee Shop Owners Love It? (5, Insightful)

SlashdotOgre (739181) | more than 5 years ago | (#28857619)

The summary claims, "Coffee shop owners love the trend," but I believe that's a bit of an overgeneralization. From my admittedly very limited conversations with small coffee shop owners around the SF Bay Area, the general consensus I've found is that the people who make the coffee shop their office (sorry, "digital nomads" sounds stupid) take up quite a bit of space for a long period of time and don't order much. At places where there's a ton of space, it's not much of an issue, but in areas where space is a luxury (e.g. SF, Berkeley, etc.), the owners definitely seem to be a bit resentful. To be fair, it guarantees them some small consistent income throughout the day, but if they lose just a couple customers who would have bought lunch if there was room for them to sit, then they're at a loss. Also pretty much everyone I talked to has a story of some jerk who'd come and use their Internet access all day and doesn't even have the courtesy to buy a drink.

Re:Do Coffee Shop Owners Love It? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28858015)

Hence the importance of coffee shop owners to have an experienced network administrator set up their networks so that a passkey is generated with the print of a receipt. Every coffee shop I frequent has a similar system (I know because I keep receipts, and the passkey as of yet has not been duplicated).

Re:Do Coffee Shop Owners Love It? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28858223)

so have a rolling password on the access point, printed on the till receipt.

oh boo-hoo, people keep taking the thing I'm giving away for free!

next you'll complain about the people who come into your supermarket and fill their basket with the loss-leader special offer and don't buy a week's worth of overpriced groceries at the same time :)

I call them "migrant information workers" (1)

alispguru (72689) | more than 5 years ago | (#28857695)

Which gets the proper "will hack for food" vibe in.

My personal experience as a "Nomad" (3, Interesting)

johncadengo (940343) | more than 5 years ago | (#28857697)

I'm currently a student working for a professor at my university and I've been given the opportunity to do most of my work from home. I program for him, mostly in PHP for a website he is in charge of.

I do most of my work in libraries, parks, and restaurants. There are pros and cons to each environment. I think the greatest problem I've encountered is finding reliable and free wifi. Denny's restaurants tend to have free wifi, but it kicks you off every 30 minutes which is a real pain if you're trying to do something that requires long periods of thought.

Public libraries are most preferable, but at least here in San Diego, they are overcrowded and sometimes I can't find a desk to sit at. Libraries at my school are not crowded and have plenty of room to sit, however, parking requires permits. The park by the library is nice, at least during the day time, but sometimes if there is a lot of glare it is hard to work. Also, the wireless signal in a park is much weaker.

Starbucks is a no go for me since their wifi isn't free. And starbucks is the MOST crowded at all times of the day.

The Ralph's used to have free wifi, and is open 24 hours a day, so I would occasionally study or work from there. But recently they stopped offering free wifi. So I stopped going there.

Overall, I'd say the park is the nicest place to work. There is fresh air, light breezes. Ambient noise is neither repetitive nor distracting, but actually, in the same way the ocean is, relaxing. And you can always get up and take a walk to clear your mind. The other problem though is its hard to find power outlets. So you better have a nice laptop with a good battery, or else you won't be out there long.

Technology Empowers Theoretical Physics (1)

cing (1607421) | more than 5 years ago | (#28857705)

Don't forget about the rise of nomadic scientists! (most notably Garrett Lisi)

Just Don't Try This... (2, Insightful)

Logical Zebra (1423045) | more than 5 years ago | (#28857719)

...if your job involves working with sensitive information.

better than life from red dwarf or that trek one (2, Interesting)

jollyreaper (513215) | more than 5 years ago | (#28857743)

This is making me think of homeless MMO players. Red Dwarf had an electronic drug that was essentially a VR life simulation. You get to live out the life you always dreamed of. The best part, of course, is that one of the characters trapped in the game was so full of neuroses and hangups that even his fantasies were a miserable wreck. But for those who had normal fantasies, they'd end up hooked into the game ignoring their own bodies as they slowly starved while lying in a puddle of their own waste. There was also a similar device featured in Star Trek, a game that got people so hooked they wouldn't notice aliens stealing the Enterprise.

When MUD's first became popular, I thought "Surely unemployment would be the addict's best friend. Get fired, lose the house, thus nowhere to plug in the computer, you're going cold turkey!" But the devices are getting so small, so power-friendly, and with games like EVE you can earn game-time just by playing a bunch, it doesn't take much of a stretch to imagine paying for wifi access via selling in-game gold and now the homeless guy living in the cardboard box might not be a wino but a game-o.

As for sending all the work over to Bangalore, I think that there's still going to be cultural barriers to doing so. Companies I've worked at, management has trouble figuring out where to go to lunch with a face-to-face meeting, let alone actually planning things in sufficient detail that a design doc could be sent overseas. At bare minimum an excellent project manager is needed to translate from vagueness to something the techs can understand, whether they're on this coast or overseas. Plus there's the pain in the ass of the differing time schedule. My dad had worked night shift at the phone company garage, a brilliant idea of management where the trucks get worked on at night and thus have greater availability during the day. The only problem is that the parts houses are only open during the day. A truck might be in and out same day on the day shift but for night shift they have to place the part order in the morning, let it arrive during the day, then wait for the next shift to do the work. That's the same sort of thing you're dealing with when working with India. Very delayed turnaround unless you can convince the Indians to work nightshift to fit American hours, a sure recipe for burnout.

Economist Article (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28857839)

Economist addressed this more than a year ago, but with the focus of "do companies really know where their work from home workers are located?" It went on to address the large number of workers that are hired in one country but then relocate or spend a large amount of time in a vacation destination or higher tax country. They continue to pay taxes based on their company location and pay into pension plans, etc, but they avoid the higher taxes of the country they may be currently living in.

Digital nomads (3, Informative)

digitalhermit (113459) | more than 5 years ago | (#28857871)

Working from the road is fun, but it really depends on what you're doing. When I'm doing any sort of code I need to be at my house with my 24" monitors and reference library (not all my books are electronic). Other times though it makes the time pass faster to work from a coffee shop (in particular, the one across from the college at around noon ).

Anyhoo, some of the things I found I needed to work completely remotely include:
1) 300W inverter
2) USB hub
3) 3G card
4) Skype (actually now a Google voice node :D )

For the really remote days I picked up a Duracell power supply. It's large (has a fullsize car battery inside) and *heavy*, but lets me work for 8 hours completely away from mains power. I can get by with the laptop and the 3G card, but the power runs out after a couple hours. It seems like a lot of stuff, but it lets me work from the beach or a park.

BTW, I was near the beach once and in the middle of typing when a bunch of really rough looking teenagers started milling around. That was a tense moment until a guard came along to check around. Won't go there again, but it's something to keep in mind if you want to get far away.

Re:Digital nomads (1)

cockpitcomp (1575439) | more than 5 years ago | (#28858131)

Your external battery should last longer if you get a cig lighter adapter rather than using the inverter to convert from DC to AC then back to DC with the laptop power brick. The inverter and brick make quite a bit of heat.

Re:Digital nomads (1)

lwsimon (724555) | more than 5 years ago | (#28858165)

I do this sometimes, though I live in a rural area and didn't know they actually made a power supply for this. Instead, I have an older gelcell car battery in a home-built enclosure, with an invterter built in. 8-10 hours, but its heavy.

There is a big rock outcropping near my house, and sometimes I'll walk to the top of that and sit on the edge of a 40' cliff, merrily coding away. It's something to be experienced.

As for the punks - well, I'm in Arkansas. I just carry a pistol.

here's to you, taco (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28857873)

Wireless. Nomads. Lame.

Bollocks! (1)

Itninja (937614) | more than 5 years ago | (#28857877)

Since these people 'on the go' are being called 'digital nomads', why not just save time and call them...wait for it...gonads. I'll show myself out.

Work [...] using tools like Facebook!? (4, Insightful)

Angstroem (692547) | more than 5 years ago | (#28857937)

I can see how Skype may assist in working, but it completely fails me where Facebook or Twitter would come in handy as *tools* for *work* for the vast majority of jobs.

It's all well and good . . . (1)

LMacG (118321) | more than 5 years ago | (#28857949)

. . . until they start looking for the Kirk, the Creator, then start looking to find and sterilize imperfection.

"Digital Nomad" landing sites (1)

Animats (122034) | more than 5 years ago | (#28858057)

University Avenue in Palo Alto used to have a rather nice tea cafe, Neotte, with power outlets at every table and free WiFi. The place was packed with people with laptops. Several Web 2.0 startups were hatched there. But the customers didn't order much. A friend of mine worked there, and she was usually behind the counter reading a book. Even with the place full of customers, there weren't many orders for tea. The business concept was a flop.

The place converted to a coffee bar. Unfortunately, they were directly across the street from a Starbucks, so that didn't work. Now it's a Red Mango yogurt place, where people tend to buy and leave, not hang out.

A friend and I do this (1)

Thyamine (531612) | more than 5 years ago | (#28858071)

I work from home quite often doing development and database work. I have a home office, and will alternate from my office, to the dining room table, to outside on the patio. I have a few pets and it works great to be productive and not have them caged all day. I have a friend who lives nearby that does IT work for a different company, and although he gets to work from home, he doesn't always enjoy being completely isolated. So sometimes once a week, he'll come over and work from my place, even though we may only interact for lunch. At the same time, I've thought about going out to a coffee shop or similar place to work, just because I can. I haven't only because the coffee at home is so much cheaper. =)

good and bad (2, Interesting)

tazochai (213288) | more than 5 years ago | (#28858087)

yeah okay i'm one of these. web app developer been commuting for years.

Here's what stinks about working out of a panera or most cafes.
-It's usually freezing cold in summer, so i have to dress for winter in July.
-Yeah i have to buy food or drink, and usually it's fattening.
-Many places crank the lobby music so i can't hear my own music without causing ear damage.
-Lunch can be crowded and more loud than usual.

However I have enjoyed spending a month living in another state, with my sister, and just working out of a dunkin donuts during the day. Got in some family time at night and weekends I could not have otherwise.

Working at home (or out of cafe) does get a bit lonely. I miss the zany whacky coworkers, etc.

Coffee shop owners love the trend (2, Insightful)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 5 years ago | (#28858179)

These people don't generate as much business as you might think. And they drive away business in fast food restaurants by taking up a whole table for hours.

Celebrate Homelessness! (1)

droidsURlooking4 (1543007) | more than 5 years ago | (#28858219)

This can also be couch surfing consultants who've been experiencing the contracts drying up. Not enough work to pay for a flat, but I'll take what I can get. If you do this and work at Walmart, it's called being underemployed.

Steve Roberts ("Wordy") (5, Interesting)

dpbsmith (263124) | more than 5 years ago | (#28858291)

Way way back in the days before the Internet, CompuServe Information Services ($6 an hour plus phone bill, often referred to as CI$) important. At that time, there was a guy named Steve Roberts, aka "Wordy," who travelled around the country on a recumbent bicycle with a TRS-100, posting updates to CIS.

Googling suggests that he is still experimenting with a nomadic lifestyle... I think... Some posting suggest he has an email address at microship.com [microship.com] It's not clear to me whose website that is or what, exactly it is about... but perhaps it is his and perhaps he is still experimenting with a nomadic lifestyle.

look for nomad girl (1)

godrik (1287354) | more than 5 years ago | (#28858373)

Hey I could host a nomad girl at home. We could work from there. There is wifi and 3g connectivity! Even in my bed! (I should post that on craigslit too!)
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