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The Rise of the Digital Nomad 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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The Rise of the Digital Nomad

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  • by Haffner ( 1349071 ) on Tuesday July 28, 2009 @03:21PM (#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."
    • by lessthan ( 977374 ) on Tuesday July 28, 2009 @03:32PM (#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: (Score:2, Funny)

        by mcgrew ( 92797 )

        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 freq

        • by YouWantFriesWithThat ( 1123591 ) on Tuesday July 28, 2009 @04:14PM (#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.
          • by mcgrew ( 92797 )

            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: (Score:3, Interesting)

              I know somebody who operates a cafe. I suggested that I help him set up wifi but it didn't go ahead because his retail space is too valuable to have people sitting around drinking coffee for hours. He wants people to buy a meal, stay for 45 minutes and give up their spot.

              It might be a different story at a McDonalds in the suburbs though.
        • "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."

          Geez...why would you go to a coffee shop, when the local bars all have free Wi-Fi?

          For example, one of my fav. local bars, The Bulldog [] (I like the mid-city [] and uptown [] locations), actually has signs up advertising they have wi-fi, fax and phone you can use if you want to set up your 'office' there.

          Better than just drinking some damned coffee and doughnuts....good beer,

        • by lessthan ( 977374 ) on Tuesday July 28, 2009 @04:51PM (#28858767)
          You would be fine with your neighbor consistently using your wireless network without asking? I would be annoyed. If they asked, I would be okay with it, mostly. If they offered to give a little towards the bill, I'd be great. I can see how someone could argue that I don't use my connection all the time, so what is the harm in allowing others on? I really don't have a good answer. Just that it feels less like I'm giving them something and more like they are taking advantage of me.

          BTW, it isn't about the cost to the owner, it is about intent. If you are using the service, why would you not help defray the costs? The service does cost the owner money. Is there a good reason that you would not offer a little compensation? It is like not tipping the waiter. You are not compelled to tip, it is just the right thing to do.

        • by sbeckstead ( 555647 ) on Tuesday July 28, 2009 @05:03PM (#28858959) Homepage Journal
          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 coffee shop owner a dime for you to "leech" his wifi.

          Man I want to find out where these coffee shop owners are getting the free internet connections. Last time I checked it cost the coffee shop the same it would at home maybe more because they have to get a commercial connection. I also know that each connection takes a bit of the total bandwidth so others can't use it and if there are enough non paying customers the coffee shop is getting ripped off big time.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by PitaBred ( 632671 )
        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.
        • by Shatrat ( 855151 )
          Better hope Henry Louis Gates isn't one of the freeloaders that's been taking up an entire table all morning....
        • by Hadlock ( 143607 )

          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?

          • I'm an alumni ;) Got my own member in training now. Gonna be quite a few years before he's ready, though... he's just starting to crawl
    • by QuantumRiff ( 120817 ) on Tuesday July 28, 2009 @03:38PM (#28857479)
      Why pick on us? I just want to look different, just like all my friends...
  • 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 [].

    • by CorporateSuit ( 1319461 ) on Tuesday July 28, 2009 @03:38PM (#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
      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.
      • 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 an

        • Keep in mind that 9 to 5 is relative. I certainly could do my job from home at midnight, but my clients (in HR departments) do their jobs from 9 to 5 in support of the worker bees in their companies doing their jobs 9 to 5. So as long as my boss feels I need to be at their beck and call, I will be working from 9 to 5.

          Now, in versus out of the office is a matter of employee control. We are a very merit-based workplace, and we don't even have to dress very well (we put the "casual" in "business casual"), but

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by timeOday ( 582209 )
          Dynamically forming new teams all the time won't work because you have to personally get to know people to know what you can expect them to do. Keyword searching of resumes doesn't really meet that requirement. It's not just a matter of satisfying potentially irrational emotions in humans (such as loyalty and trust), but also the fact that each knowledge worker has different knowledge. Even a sports team, doing a relatively simple and well defined task e.g. playing basketball, has to play together for a
    • ...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?

      • by ajlitt ( 19055 )

        Only if that synergy is leveraged through customer-focused AJAX on Arduino. Aeron chairs for everyone!

  • Workation (Score:4, Insightful)

    by KraftDinner ( 1273626 ) on Tuesday July 28, 2009 @03:26PM (#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.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 28, 2009 @03:27PM (#28857297)

    Formerly known as bum.

  • by iamapizza ( 1312801 ) on Tuesday July 28, 2009 @03:27PM (#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?
    • by vertinox ( 846076 ) on Tuesday July 28, 2009 @03:30PM (#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.

    • 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 yo

      • by hodet ( 620484 )
        That is one cool "work-ation" :-)

        The nature of my work would allow me to be productive doing this as well but my employer would never allow it. Very cool nonetheless.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by yurtinus ( 1590157 )
        Clearly, you work too much!
  • 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.

    • 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 coll

  • by BigHungryJoe ( 737554 ) on Tuesday July 28, 2009 @03:30PM (#28857351) Homepage

    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.

    • 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.
    • 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.
    • by Nursie ( 632944 )

      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 us

      • by captainClassLoader ( 240591 ) on Tuesday July 28, 2009 @03:59PM (#28857837) Journal
        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.
    • 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 n

    • by hab136 ( 30884 )

      "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.

      • 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.
    • I work for a large company (50k+ employees). One of the bosses in my division has officially stated "If the job can be done from home, it can be done from India." With that attitude, digital nomad becomes something more akin to digital homeless.

    • Currently I work in closed lab with no Internet access, so obviously no work from home option exists. I spent a year doing field system support for SGI though, and I didn't even have an office. I was the only SSE for most of Louisiana and part of Mississippi, and there was no point spending cash renting out space for an office of one. I worked from home anytime I wasn't on site fixing people computers or out doing some kind of training. It's not all it's cracked up to be frankly. Sure I could work in m

  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna ( 970587 ) on Tuesday July 28, 2009 @03:32PM (#28857375) Journal
    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: (Score:3, Insightful)

      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.
      • I inspect ships for the Navy. That job's not going to be outsourced any time soon; neither could it be a telecommuting job. Someone has to go in and see if the contractor has installed the right stuff in the right place. Someone has to go check out the proposed changes to make sure they can fit into the ship after it's been out at sea and modified by the crew over the last 10 years.

        One could, I suppose, point out that if your job is one such that you don't actually have to go in, then the length of the digi

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      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 interna

      • 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.

    • 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: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by DorkRawk ( 719109 )
      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
    • by Shatrat ( 855151 )

      It is prospect of getting cheap labor from these countries that prompt corporate America to promote telecommuting. Remember that.

      My company has quite a few people who work from home some or all of the time.
      Many of these are in other states, but none of them are in other nations.
      Not everything is a trap set by The Man.

      Also, if your job is such that you don't physically need to be there, it can be outsourced whether you take advantage of that or not.

    • by Hadlock ( 143607 )

      Depends on what business school your managers went to and what the board members are looking to get out of the company. If they're looking to pump and dump the company by improving profits in the short term to improve their stock price before selling, then yeah outsourcing is a problem. If they're looking to grow the business as a stable company for the long run, the company is (hopefully) not going to hire someone with a terrible accent that in the end is going to cause internal strife and hurt employee re

    • all you are arguing for is an artificial inflation of costs

      the guy working from india also has 1/10th the cost of living of the mcmansion living $1/gallon hummer driving american, so of course he can underbid you

      why do you think it is your right and privilege to cost so much more than you are rightfully worth?

      protectionism doesn't help anyone, it just slows down progress

      and this is speaking as a programmer living in the usa

      if someone can do in manila my job for 1/5th the price, i don't understand how i can justify my rate anymore. how can you?

  • 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.

    • by mcgrew ( 92797 )

      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.

  • 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.

    • by mcgrew ( 92797 )

      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!!!!
    • by j-stroy ( 640921 )
      Reminiscent of the "franchulates" in Snow Crash... They were pravate member franchinse/consulates, that is a chain of convenience/service agency mini-malls.

      The mafia delivered pizza.
  • Human Nature (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Colourspace ( 563895 ) on Tuesday July 28, 2009 @03:40PM (#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).
  • by OzPeter ( 195038 ) on Tuesday July 28, 2009 @03:42PM (#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

    • 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.

      • by OzPeter ( 195038 )
        More power to you if you can work from just a laptop - but it would get old really fast if you had to lock everything up in order to take a dump.

        My wife works at a company where hoteling is standard, and she can't let her laptop out of sight at any time - and thats within the confines of the company's building. Multiply the security risks by a large degree when you are working in a public place like TFA is suggesting.

        Oh and by the way - So if it works for you then it is not a stupid idea and workable f

  • by SlashdotOgre ( 739181 ) on Tuesday July 28, 2009 @03:46PM (#28857619) Journal

    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.

    • by krou ( 1027572 )
      Actually, the article linked to claimed that cafe owners love the trend. Why?

      "If there was nobody in here, people would say 'That place is no good,' " said Dale Roberts, who owns the Java Shack. "It feeds on itself. If you go to a movie theater and see a long line, people want to see that movie. It's the same thing for a coffee shop."

  • Which gets the proper "will hack for food" vibe in.
  • by johncadengo ( 940343 ) on Tuesday July 28, 2009 @03:51PM (#28857697) Homepage

    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.

  • by Logical Zebra ( 1423045 ) on Tuesday July 28, 2009 @03:52PM (#28857719)

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

    • Why not? Just set up a SOCKS proxy via ssh to your home box, and configure firefox & thunderbird to use it for all traffic. Now you've got a secure connection anywhere.
      • by pjt33 ( 739471 )

        Does the analogy "Using an armoured car to transport money beween two cardboard boxes in the street" ring any bells? It doesn't matter how secure your connection is if the person at the next table can read your screen.

  • by jollyreaper ( 513215 ) on Tuesday July 28, 2009 @03:54PM (#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.

  • Digital nomads (Score:4, Informative)

    by digitalhermit ( 113459 ) on Tuesday July 28, 2009 @04:00PM (#28857871) Homepage

    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.

    • by lwsimon ( 724555 )

      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.

  • 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.
  • by Angstroem ( 692547 ) on Tuesday July 28, 2009 @04:04PM (#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.
  • . . . until they start looking for the Kirk, the Creator, then start looking to find and sterilize imperfection.

  • 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

  • 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
  • good and bad (Score:2, Interesting)

    by tazochai ( 213288 )

    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 ou

  • by Culture20 ( 968837 ) on Tuesday July 28, 2009 @04:18PM (#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.
  • by dpbsmith ( 263124 ) on Tuesday July 28, 2009 @04:23PM (#28858291) Homepage

    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 [] 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.

  • 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!)
  • Now, slashdotters who still live in their Mama's basements, and are afraid to come out during daylight hours can have jobs too!! They can take their work to the video arcade, and to Chucky Cheese's. They can even work from inside a '60's style VW van!!

    I see a win-win situation here.

  • by icebike ( 68054 ) on Tuesday July 28, 2009 @04:46PM (#28858687)

    >work wherever there is a Wi-Fi or 3G connection, using tools such as Facebook, Skype, and Twitter,

    Seriously, how much real work happens on ANY of these platforms?

    They provide more distractions than help.

  • I saw this trend really picking up steam while I was consulting. When I first started working for the firm I worked with in 2000, we did most of our work onsite. We were working in the SMB market, taking care of companies with 1-50 servers and 5-500 employees. By 2005-6, most of the work was done remotely via VPN. We did standard IT work and some development projects. When I left in 2007, unless the problem was hardware related, I never had to visit client sites. The clients appreciated it because we

In seeking the unattainable, simplicity only gets in the way. -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982