Mobile Digital Nomads on the rise

An excellent article in The Economist (10th April 2008), Nomads at last, describes the growing band of “digital nomads” who travel light from oasis to oasis with only an iPhone or a Blackberry and traces how they evolved from “digital astronauts” (who carried all their vital supplies with them) through “digital hermit crabs” (with a basic shell of devices, batteries and connectors) to their current digital nomadic form.

Nomads at last

Illustration by Bell Mellor

The authors also comment on something which is increasingly bothering me – the de-humanising effect of more and more people walking round our cities absorbed in their own worlds of digital isolation with their headphones in and no regard for or interest in anyone they physically meet:

“This is why a new breed of observers is now joining the ever-present futurists and gadget geeks in studying the consequences of this technology. Sociologists in particular are trying to figure out how mobile communications are changing interactions between people. Nomadism, most believe, tends to bring people who are already close, such as family members, even closer. But it may do so at the expense of their attentiveness towards strangers encountered physically (rather than virtually) in daily life. That has implications for society at large”.


To read the article in full:


For some practical tips on living as a mobile digital nomad (aka virtual road warrior) checkout

The virtual road warrior hardware checklist

The virtual road warrior software checklist



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