Created by Ruth Elliott

Welcome! Join me as I reflect on my learning journey with Web 2.0 tools. I'm sure I will find bandwagons to jump on along the way. Let's enjoy the trip.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Digital Nomads Feeling Lonely

PURANG COUNTY, CHINA - JUNE 15:   A Tibetan no...Image by Getty Images via Daylife

Just yesterday I read a newspaper article about "digital nomads", those lucky folk who can do their work from any corner of the globe as long as they have an internet connection. Even as I type this, I am a digital nomadic student. Last night we checked into the bed and breakfast where we are staying near Kelowna, British Columbia. The bed and breakfast (B & B) advertised the fact that they had wireless internet access. My husband helped find the wireless connection for me. Fortunately, although I will sit and work on the computer today, I will get face to face time later with family members whom we are visiting here.

In the newspaper article in Sunday's Calgary Herald (Rosenwald, 2009, p. D9) digital nomads avoided the long commute in to work, the windowless cubicle, and the stale coffee, by

This is a picture i took for the Candy article.Image via Wikipedia

putting down digital roots in coffee shops, libraries, poolside locations in hotels, and sometimes even in private homes. These digital nomads could simply stay at home in their pajamas and work all day (I'm sure many of them do just that.) However, this is too lonely for some of them. The gregarious, extroverts need human stimulation. So they congregate with others who are also working outside the office. They work side-by-side, for different companies, exchanging idle conversations, and assisting with technology glitches. Official gatherings of this sort are called "jellies, after a bowl of jelly beans the creators were eating when they came up with the name." (Rosenwald, 2009, p. D9)

Drinks at the beach 1933 coffee mugImage via Wikipedia

Coffee shops welcome these digital offices because it makes them look busy and attracts more customers. The benefit for the digital nomads is that the coffee is always fresh. I remember that earlier during this class, one of my classmates commented on visiting a mall which had comfortable living room type armchairs in the hallways. There were people sitting in those armchairs using their laptops. Maybe those folks were digital nomads. They enjoy the hustle and bustle of people passing by their nomadic worksite. It energizes them.

Employers find that often these digital nomadic workers work even harder than the ones who remain in the office. The workers feel it is a privilege to be untethered from a physical location. So they work harder in order to keep this privilege. However, this can also be a negative since they can become stressed out by the demands of their nomadic lifestyle.

As a digital nomadic student right now, I can relate. Since I am taking an online class, I do not frequent a physical classroom at the University of Alberta campus. Rather, I am a denizen of an e-classroom on the internet. I can spend time working on the class from any locati

Hands. Touching hands. Reaching outImage by Axel B├╝hrmann via Flickr

on which has an internet connection. This morning at breakfast (at my B & B), I interviewed the adults there about their computer use. I am continually researching and thinking about this class far more than if I only thought about it within the walls of a physical classroom somewhere.

Just like the digital nomads working by poolsides or in libraries, I can also feel lonely for physical classmates. I look forward to meeting some of my classmates in real time at a real place next Sunday morning for breakfast. Until then, I will toil away in digital isolation--reaching out my digital hand to touch the digital world.

Rosenwald, M. (2 August 2009). Digital nomads ditch their cubicles. In the Calgary Herald. p. D9.
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1 comment:

  1. Yes, I guess this is the point I was getting at in my last comment on the "Six Degrees of Separation." There does seem to be a human need for face-to-face physical contact. I experienced this with a satelite group of students I had to visit to provide explanation and reassurances to in person.