‘Digital nomads’ are knowledge workers who reject office life and leverage wireless communication technologies to combine work and travel (Moravec 2013, p.20). Digital nomads master and practice the art of a ‘liquid life’ (Deuze 2006, p.1) – they accept uncertainty, flux, change and an indefinite duration of travel. In Berlin, a city that attracts digital nomads due to its creative scene and cheap living costs, this group is referred to as ‘urban bums’ or the ‘precariat class’ (Hartmann 2009, p.430) Whilst digital nomads are effectively homeless, it is also ‘lifestyle’ choice – of freedom over security and independence over regular income (Hartmann 2009, p.430). Andrew Ross (2003 cited in Gregg 2009, p.35) refers to this phenomenon as the “industrialisation of bohemia”.
Creative industries, especially newer high tech, design and advertising sectors, have increasingly incorporated elements of the bohemian ethos (Halasz 2015, p.187). For digital nomads, the bohemian lifestyle has become a brand to sell the workstyle – one that is high-risk, poorly paid and ‘desynchronised’ with the rest of society (Hartmann 2009, p.431). The seduction of autonomy, extreme flexibility and self-fulfilment has, thus, become a trade-off for the precarity of labour and life in the information economy.
Check out the computerised bicycle used by the first digital nomad, Steven Roberts, here.
Deuze, M 2006, ‘Liquid Life, Convergence Culture, and Media Work’, accessed 20 August 2015, <https://scholarworks.iu.edu/dspace/bitstream/handle/2022/3343/Liquid%20Life%20Deuze%202006.pdf>.
Gregg, M 2009, ‘Function creep: communication technologies and anticipatory labour in the information workplace’, New Media and Society, accessed 20 August 2015, <http://homecookedtheory.com/wp-content/uploads/functioncreepnms.doc>.
Halasz, JR 2015, The Bohemian Ethos: Questioning Work and Making a Scene on the Lower East Side, Routledge, New York.
Hartmann, M 2009, ‘The Changing Urban Landscapes of Media Consumption and Production’, European Journal of Communication, vol.24, no.4, p.421-436.
Moravec, JW 2013, Knowmad Society, Education Futures, Minneapolis.