Mobility: Nomads at last – how wireless is changing the way we work, live and love

Wireless communication is changing the way people work, live, love and relate to places — and each other, says Andreas Kluth (interviewed here)At the Nomad Café in Oakland, California, Tia Katrina Canlas, a law student at the nearby university in Berkeley, places her double Americano next to her mobile phone and iPod, opens her MacBook laptop computer and logs on to the café’s wireless internet connection to study for her class on the legal treatment of sexual orientation. She is a regular here but doesn’t usually bring cash, so her credit-card statement reads “Nomad, Nomad, Nomad, Nomad”. That says it all, she thinks. Permanently connected, she communicates by text, photo, video or voice throughout the day with her friends and family, and does her “work stuff” at the same time. She roams around town, but often alights at oases that cater to nomads.Christopher Waters, the owner, opened the Nomad Café in 2003, just as Wi-Fi “hotspots” were mushrooming all around town. His idea was to provide a watering-hole for “techno-Bedouins” such as himself, he says. Since Bedouins, whether in Arabian deserts or American suburbs, are inherently tribal and social creatures, he understood from the outset that a good oasis has to do more than provide Wi-Fi; it must also become a new — or very old — kind of gathering place. He thought of calling his café the “Gypsy Spirit Mission”, which also captures the theme of mobility, but settled for the simpler Nomad.To read the rest of this article in The Economist, see www.economist.com/specialreports/displayStory.cfm?story_id=10950394.

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