Digital Nomads

Digital Nomads

As part of our collaboration with the radio program Talenta Mundi, we’d like to talk about another topic that is related to the very name of the program. A few weeks ago we pointed out the polymaths as supreme example of these “talents of the world”. This time we’d like to dedicate a moment to show how this talent is taking advantage of digital technologies in order to communicate and work from different places. Obviously, we’re talking about digital nomads.

You just have to go to a coffee shop in any city to realize that the role of the typical office-employee, as perfectly described in Billy Wilder’s movie “The Apartment”, has changed. In many cases, having a company only requires a computer, a desk, a chair (well, or one of those treadmills that have become so popular lately) and a stable internet connection. In some cases, one might need to go to a 3D print shop to create prototypes. Moving our 24symbols office becomes as simple as closing the laptop, packing a few boxes with paper contracts and documents and proceeding to the new place. However, we can go much further and not only metaphorically: Why staying at the coffee shop around the corner if we can accomplish the same work from the other side of the world?

One of the books that has opened people’s eyes to this new way of working is Tim Ferriss’ The 4-Hour Work Week. Wildly exaggerating, this book nevertheless gives useful advice on how to use new technologies, automatize your workflow, take advantage of our global environment and, as a result, allow yourself to work from anywhere you want.

Read online The 4hour workweek by Timothy Ferriss Summary
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But how do we achieve to be as productive outside of an organized environment such as the office? Tim Ferriss vehemently recommends the use of remote personal assistants. When he first wrote his book in 2007, it might have appeared science fiction that in 2018 a considerable amount of tasks mentioned in the book would be realized by robotic assistants, such as Amy by Even if not comparable to a human assistant, there are occasions, i.e. planning meetings, where Amy scores highly on the famous Turing test.

If Tim Ferriss has convinced you, the next step is to understand how to become a digital nomad. The golden rule is parvo vivere, latin for “live with little”. Digital nomads have certain risks, as any reader who has been a freelancer will easily understand: occasional jobs, times with little income, …not mentioning the fact that you might not be able to access your bank account and are left without cash in the local currency, no internet connection, etc.

Rolf Potts, according to USA Today the “Jack Kerouac for the Internet Age”, gives a hilarious account of the way digital nomads need to go with the flow in his book Marco Polo Didn’t Go There:

– “Well, I want to discover things as they come in Poland, and that’s a good place to start. I just want to keep a laid-back attitude and go where fate and chance take me. That’s the best way to discover things, I think. Road roulette.”
– “Roulette, yes, like gambling,” Sepi says. “I think that sounds romantic. But what is ‘laid-back’?”
– “Relaxed, casual,” I say. “Not worrying about goals.”
Ervin looks back at me from the driver’s seat, a fire of mischief in his eyes. “But how can you be laid back,” he says, “if you want to get out of the car at Suwalki and wait for a different ride? That’s a goal, yes? We are already going to Krakow. If you are laid back, you will come with us.”
“I know roulette,” Sepi adds, “and I think you can’t change your number now. If Ervin picked you up, then you have to go where Ervin is going.”
The Hungarians have me checkmated: To argue otherwise at this point would be to contradict the impulse that led me to hitch in the first place. “Krakow it is, then,” I shrug

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But let’s not forget about the challenges of remote working. For example, as David Rock explains in his book Your Brain at Work, our brain does not like to focus and prefers distraction. If digital nomadism is to become normal within the next years, this tendency of ours needs to be resolved.

Read online Your Brain at Work on 24symbols

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Another peculiarity of remote work is the need to work in multicultural environments which no doubt entails great opportunities for personal and professional growth but also never before seen challenges. The book Cultural Intelligence takes up this thought:

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And we can take the principle of the parvo vivere and of digital nomads even further: The movement “Zero Waste” reminds us that there’s also a responsibility to work for the world we live in. Consuming less, but maximizing the effect of recycling and re-utilization routines, turns the individual concept of digital nomads into global action:

Read online Zero Waste on 24symbols

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Working without an office is not new. The human species began as hunters and there’s a part of us that still resists the settlement that brought us agriculture but also put a tie around our neck. It seems that the digital transformation opens a door to a happy medium: enjoying the world while maintaining work routines that allow us to keep a certain safety.

We’d like to close this train of thought with a quote by Walt Whitman, father of all vagabonds, taken from his famous Poem of the Road (part of the collection of poems Leaves of Grass):

From this hour, freedom!
From this hour, I ordain myself loosed of limits and imaginary lines!
Going where I list—my own master, total and absolute,
Listening to others, and considering well what they say,
Pausing, searching, receiving, contemplating,
Gently but with undeniable will divesting myself of the holds that would hold me.

Read online Leaves of Grass on 24symbols

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As always, all the books mentioned in the program can be found in our bookshelf Talenta Mundi. Enjoy: