My Life as a Digital Nomad

Part 1

It’s not as if I’ve always wanted to become a “digital nomad”, but it just happened. How do you come to mutate into a digital nomad at the age of 58 and how does this life feel after 2 years?  

Wikipedia defines the term digital nomad as follows:  

“a type of people who use telecommunications technologies to earn a living and, more generally, conduct their life in a nomadic manner. Such workers often work remotely from foreign countries, coffee shops, public libraries, co-working spaces, or recreational vehicles… They do work that traditionally used to be done in an office at a fixed workplace.” As early as 1964, the Canadian media scholar Marshall McLuhan formulated the thesis in his work “Understanding Media” that people in the electronic age would become nomadic collectors of information. But it took another 33 years until Tsugio Makimoto coined the term “digital nomad” in his book. This form of working existed long before 1996.  

In 1982 I started at Hewlett Packard (HP) in Germany as a trainee in sales for major customers. At that time they used line-oriented terminals which displayed letters either in green or amber. Mobile data communication was limited to the use of acoustic couplers with a speed of 300 baud/s, thus at the same time helping the German Federal Post Office to enormous wealth. Just as terminals became “personal computers” and “laptops” faster modems and digital communication techniques changed my way of working. A mere 2 years later I was on the road 80% of my time, working from different HP offices in Europe and the USA, from airports and hotels or from home.

That was already the precursor of digital nomadic life, even though I still had a fixed address at that time. But it was also the time when the weight of the adapters for different telephone and power sockets, etc. exceeded the weight of the (anyway heavy) laptop. Not forgetting the pliers and several screwdrivers in case the hotel phone was hardwired. These were the years when I was close to hurling my laptop out of the window after an error aborted the telephonic transmission of an paltry 8 Mb PowerPoint presentation just before completion after 2 ½ hours. But it was great. I could work from my hotel or living room and communicate with my colleagues across time and country boundaries. The first step had been taken.  

But it was still a long way to living a real “nomadic life”. What it looked like and how I live with it can be found in part 2.

Original text: PSC
English translation: BCO

Bildquellen

  • Digital_Nomad_Teil1: PSC

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