A brief ethnography of digital nomads

Last week I had the chance to visit my friend Jon in Xàvia (Alicante). He has lived there for a couple of years since is the basecamp of Sun and co. project he as his partner Eduardo founded several years ago.

Since his experience in Edinburgh’s The Melting Point, Jon has been involved in dynamizing creative communities in coworkings contexts. Four years ago a new opportunity emerged for him to put a step into co-living schemes. Eduardo, the owner of a youth hostel in Xàvia wanted Jon to start a co-working co-living space there while in low season. And there he went.

All those years, intermittently Jon has been speaking to me about one of their main clients in Sun and Co: location independent freelance workers or so called digital nomads. This social phenomena took my attention since it constitutes a niche prototype practice of a future of work. The future(s) of work has been a buzz topic for a couple of years now on, exacerbated by digital technologies which facilitates remote (and mainly cognitive) work and the first resonances of work robotization and automatization. Infused in these conversations topics like universal income, networked organizations, algorithmic companies… have been commonplace.

Remote workers, most of whom are liberal professionals working in digital-related businesses have made working remotely not only a contingent practice but a whole new lifestyle with it’s own ethics, aesthetics and practices. This fact has been driven by important changes in organizational dynamics regarding control, presence and personal/work life balances.

One of my interest areas regarding my self-directed masters is that of emerging organizational structures, dynamics and forms. Apparte from spending some time with my lovely Jon, getting to know and understand a little better motivations, values and purposes of these digital tribe was of high interest for me. At a personal level framing this trip as a sensing journey helped me train a little bit some of the arts of being, such as deep listening, which are also a important focus of my learning process. At an spiritual level, engaging in quality time with Jon left me really energized by his charm. We had the chance to discuss some personal leaps that Jon had made in the lasts months thanks, in part, to a cathartic reading of Eckhart Tolle’s Power of Now. This week I just started leafing through the book. I might write a review once I have finished it in my books section.

Hereafter you can find some of my notes regarding what I experienced about the digital nomads zeitgeist. I has the chance to have many conversations with Jon and his co-workers regarding some of the ideas there.

Some ethnographic notes

Tool: frameworks for structuring etnographic material

Community and culture in Sun and Co.

  • Weekly goals and projects
  • Self-led event agenda and skillshare scheme
  • Mastermind. Go meetings.
  • Rol of the host (Jon).
    • Hosting manual
    • Community building manual
  • Intimacy and bonds seeking. Host as a love node in the community.
  • Use of space
    • Lunch and dinner time

Collective imaginaries of the digital nomad community

  • Adventour and newness
  • Community.
  • Home-making and signifying
  • Non-normality and otherness
  • Happiness: joy vs. excitement. Everydayness neglection. In search of the peak experience. Waterfall effect (Jon).
    • Mechanistic thinking. Love as an excel formula. Leisure as a timetable to be filled. Friends as something you find in a place.
  • Productivity, efficiency and willforce.
    • Waking up at 5 am and cold baths.
    • Doing everything I need to have done before 10 am
  • Being in search and/or scaping
  • Money and financial freedom
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