Planning For a Digital Nomad

pulling cart Following on from my post about information flexibility and how computers will change to accept this, I got antsy for wanting to do something with this all today. I started thinking about what you could do today to plan to be a digital nomad. Here are some starting thoughts.

Get a Smartphone

First, your regular cell phone won’t cut it. You need a good smart phone. Here’s reviews of 10 for you to choose from. I’m using a BlackBerry Curve. It’s not bad. The iPhone isn’t that bad either. Maybe having both or a micro laptop (What did Eric Rice show me back in March?) would do the trick.

The BlackBerry Curve has both the Edge network (yes, slower than EVDO, but not horrible), and also WiFi. So I can use the phone in more than one way. I can browse the web. I can get email from Internet and POP3 accounts, and I can read some file types on it. Still not perfect, but a good start.

Move Applications Online

The more your stuff is web-accessible, the more you can reach it from anywhere. My primary mail is Gmail. I use Google Docs for word processing, spreadsheets, and can use it for more. You could also use the million awesome apps by Zoho. (Those guys rock). In fact, Zoho might be better, because I think they support mobile.

Centralize to Decentralize

There are two things that go together in this next part. Centralize information about you, but only so that you can spread it out to the places where it needs to be. I’m thinking that phase 2 of OpenSocial will do this for us. I think that Lijit does some aggregation on this front. Maybe making a wiki where your common centralized information can be stored would be good, too. Or, dare I say it, Plaxo. (Still not sure I trust them).

Mix Online and Offline Storage

With companies like Box.net making their free (you pay for more storage if you want it) service accessible to all kinds of other online apps, it’s cool that you can store stuff up in the clouds. I don’t trust this 100%, so buy some really decent storage, like a couple external hard drives. Get in the habit of backing stuff up online and off, and then take that second external storage drive and bring it to a relative’s house, or somewhere other than in your building. Remember to update THAT copy every 30 or so days. Why? Because then you’re relatively safe from losing your digital “stuff.”

Central Numbers and Presence Management

Switch from using a standard AIM or Yahoo! client to Adium or Trillian. Use the applications that make it not important which networks you’re using for IM. Same for your phone.

Switch to YouMail for your voice messaging service. Consider getting a Grand Central number to blend together all your telephone presence.

Use tools like Skype to videoconference. Look at ways to share your presence info, so that people collaborating with you know the story. (Simple things like Twitter work well, especially because Twitter works with phones, IM clients, 3rd party apps, and the web.)

Structure Work To Pay You for RESULTS
**Updated as per recommendation by Mark Harrison.

My new job has a pay structure built so that my employers don’t really have to worry where I’m doing my job. Meaning, my incentives are set up that if I’m working, I make money. If I’m not, I don’t. Solves the problem of bosses worrying that you’re doing what you say you’re going to do. I’m paid to make business. I can do that however I make it work.

Try working out the same for yourself. Subscribe to Web Worker Daily, and pay attention to other sources of information on how to build yourself into a digital nomad. The more you can convince your bosses that your meat in a cube isn’t the same thing as working, the sooner you can be ready to transcend into the 21st Century’s definition of work: doing something meaningful that adds value.

More Gear

Travel with your chargers. Travel with a power strip (in case you have to share). Scope out electrical outlets everywhere, and get over your shyness about using them. Carry a super small LED flashlight so you can see your wiring in the dark. Carry extra batteries if you can, especially if you can charge them without the primary device. Get really green and cool and think about ways to charge things via solar panels, etc.

Why Go Mobile? Why Be a Nomad?

As information and information workers get more modular, new value sources will arise in the value chain. Think about the changes to your business when you consider what it’d be like if fewer and fewer people showed up in the office. Imagine what works and what doesn’t work about data moving out to the Net instead of just being locked into your hard drive, or some shared office servers. How do things move differently when they don’t have to be tethered to a PLACE or a set of machines?

What do you think? Does any of this make sense? Could YOU go nomad? Are you already there? Give us your thoughts and advice.

Photo credit, Moriza

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  • http://markharrison.wordpress.com Mark Harrison

    Sorry, Chris – normally I agree with what you write, but on one of these, I have to take issue!

    > Structure Work To Pay You for WORK

    No. Don’t.

    Structure Work to Pay You for RESULTS.

    As a “serial entrepreneur”, I see so many people obsessed with inputs, rather than focussing on outputs. Provided they’re “working” they must be creating value, right?

    Because of this, one of the biggest problems I see is that people tinker, because they think that “they ought to be working.”

    Would you want your IT support staff to constantly tinker with the servers, adding new applications, because they needed to be seen to do WORK?

    Would you want your CFO constantly getting into esoteric financial instruments, because actually keeping control of the business only required a couple of days a week, but she needed to constantly be doing WORK?

    When I employ people, either as staff or (increasingly often these days) “joint venture partners”, I always try to come up with a formula that means they make a shedload of cash if, and only if, I do.

    I’m really not fussed whether they spend 10 hours a day promoting my business, or whether they are going to spend all day on the beach, and add a couple of articles to a website at weekends – what I track is what that delivers in terms of sales, cost-saving, cashflow, or whatever else I’m focussing on.

    But paying people for WORK?

    Nope, don’t like that at all.

    Mark

    PS – Other than that, great article – and thanks for the link to box.net, of which I wasn’t aware, but looks to be a spot-on answer to a problem I currently have.

    Sorry about the slightly ranty tone of the post as well – I guess I’m so shocked at getting a post I don’t consider a mix of “agree with that” and “learnt from that” :-)

  • http://markharrison.wordpress.com Mark Harrison

    Sorry, Chris – normally I agree with what you write, but on one of these, I have to take issue!

    > Structure Work To Pay You for WORK

    No. Don’t.

    Structure Work to Pay You for RESULTS.

    As a “serial entrepreneur”, I see so many people obsessed with inputs, rather than focussing on outputs. Provided they’re “working” they must be creating value, right?

    Because of this, one of the biggest problems I see is that people tinker, because they think that “they ought to be working.”

    Would you want your IT support staff to constantly tinker with the servers, adding new applications, because they needed to be seen to do WORK?

    Would you want your CFO constantly getting into esoteric financial instruments, because actually keeping control of the business only required a couple of days a week, but she needed to constantly be doing WORK?

    When I employ people, either as staff or (increasingly often these days) “joint venture partners”, I always try to come up with a formula that means they make a shedload of cash if, and only if, I do.

    I’m really not fussed whether they spend 10 hours a day promoting my business, or whether they are going to spend all day on the beach, and add a couple of articles to a website at weekends – what I track is what that delivers in terms of sales, cost-saving, cashflow, or whatever else I’m focussing on.

    But paying people for WORK?

    Nope, don’t like that at all.

    Mark

    PS – Other than that, great article – and thanks for the link to box.net, of which I wasn’t aware, but looks to be a spot-on answer to a problem I currently have.

    Sorry about the slightly ranty tone of the post as well – I guess I’m so shocked at getting a post I don’t consider a mix of “agree with that” and “learnt from that” :-)

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  • http://shawnday.com/randomosity Shawn Day

    Thanks for this and your consistently thought provoking posts. This one is definitely thinking outside the box of conventionality. Great provocation.

    I wonder though whether the digital nomad can be tethered by the centralized/decentralization your refer to. I rely on GDocs for a number of tasks and rely on my own apps via my own server, but also find it necessary to mirror data to local tools so that I can access info when I can’t access a wireless signal. This has resulted in redundant storage of information, but synced so that it basically is seamless depending on connectivity. I can still write and post to my local blog which is synced when there is a signal. I can still refer to past postings on any of my blogs when there is no connectivity.

    Do you think we can make this break with data redundancy yet?

    Thanks for your posts,

    Shawn

  • http://shawnday.com/randomosity Shawn Day

    Thanks for this and your consistently thought provoking posts. This one is definitely thinking outside the box of conventionality. Great provocation.

    I wonder though whether the digital nomad can be tethered by the centralized/decentralization your refer to. I rely on GDocs for a number of tasks and rely on my own apps via my own server, but also find it necessary to mirror data to local tools so that I can access info when I can’t access a wireless signal. This has resulted in redundant storage of information, but synced so that it basically is seamless depending on connectivity. I can still write and post to my local blog which is synced when there is a signal. I can still refer to past postings on any of my blogs when there is no connectivity.

    Do you think we can make this break with data redundancy yet?

    Thanks for your posts,

    Shawn

  • http://ericrice.com Eric Rice

    I think you’re referring to the UMPC I showed you back in March. I hate it, I never use it. Wanna buy it?

    I have an ultralight laptop (lucky that it has built in EVDO) and an iPhone. Even though I’ll be ditching my iPhone for a Nokia, devices like these are more prone to be useful and cut down on my laptop time. Heck, my laptop spends more time charging everything else than use (ok not true totally but, heh). I spend more time looking for sexy bags.

    And I simply ADORE Zoho (and my Logitech notebook Revolution mouse).

  • http://ericrice.com Eric Rice

    I think you’re referring to the UMPC I showed you back in March. I hate it, I never use it. Wanna buy it?

    I have an ultralight laptop (lucky that it has built in EVDO) and an iPhone. Even though I’ll be ditching my iPhone for a Nokia, devices like these are more prone to be useful and cut down on my laptop time. Heck, my laptop spends more time charging everything else than use (ok not true totally but, heh). I spend more time looking for sexy bags.

    And I simply ADORE Zoho (and my Logitech notebook Revolution mouse).

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  • http://markharrison.wordpress.com Mark Harrison

    Chris,

    OK – looks like we do agree after all :-)

    Thanks for the linkback!

    Mark

  • http://markharrison.wordpress.com Mark Harrison

    Chris,

    OK – looks like we do agree after all :-)

    Thanks for the linkback!

    Mark

  • EddieZ

    Chris,

    Lots of good information. I am a big fan of the offsite storage in the clouds, but I have found that my backups tend to be days if not weeks old. I had about 4 or 5 external hard drives, and I think part of my problem was juggling data around and not having anything centralized on my main system. I decided to invest in a Drobo, from a group called Data Robotics. HUGE difference, I was able to consolidate all of my external drives and Drobo is protecting me from a drive failure, so that if my backup is 2 weeks old, I won’t loose any data.

    Give it a look – cheers!

  • EddieZ

    Chris,

    Lots of good information. I am a big fan of the offsite storage in the clouds, but I have found that my backups tend to be days if not weeks old. I had about 4 or 5 external hard drives, and I think part of my problem was juggling data around and not having anything centralized on my main system. I decided to invest in a Drobo, from a group called Data Robotics. HUGE difference, I was able to consolidate all of my external drives and Drobo is protecting me from a drive failure, so that if my backup is 2 weeks old, I won’t loose any data.

    Give it a look – cheers!

  • digitalnomad

    Chris-

    I like your post and will recap it in a shoutout on my blog(s) (with some links of course).

  • http://http:.//digital-nomads.blogspot.com digitalnomad

    Chris-

    I like your post and will recap it in a shoutout on my blog(s) (with some links of course).

  • digitalnomad
  • http://http:.//digital-nomads.blogspot.com digitalnomad
  • http://www.technomads.org technomads

    Hey,

    I’m launching a new site at http://www.technomads.org on Feb 1st, and wanted to invite you early. There’s also a blog at technomads.info.

    Anyway hope you’ll check it out and would love to get a guest article or something from you!

    J

  • http://www.technomads.org technomads

    Hey,

    I’m launching a new site at http://www.technomads.org on Feb 1st, and wanted to invite you early. There’s also a blog at technomads.info.

    Anyway hope you’ll check it out and would love to get a guest article or something from you!

    J

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  • antony

    Hello! I'm working on project about Nomads. I can't find any forums where I may ask about interesting me question. The question is what nomad can call HOME and HOUSE? But try to answer in a way like HOME is the place where your “soul”, place where you feeling yourself in security, the place where you are happy and HOUSE is a building, shelter or smthing. Please, help me.

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  • http://savetubevideo.com youtube downloader

    The more your stuff is web-accessible, the more you can reach it from anywhere. My primary mail is Gmail. I use Google Docs for word processing, spreadsheets, and can use it for more. You could also use the million awesome apps by Zoho. (Those guys rock). In fact, Zoho might be better, because I think they support mobile.

    Good choice

  • http://savetubevideo.com youtube downloader

    The more your stuff is web-accessible, the more you can reach it from anywhere. My primary mail is Gmail. I use Google Docs for word processing, spreadsheets, and can use it for more. You could also use the million awesome apps by Zoho. (Those guys rock). In fact, Zoho might be better, because I think they support mobile.

    Good choice

  • http://www.joingiffgaff.com/ Dave J

    Hi Chris,
    I haven’t seen this mentioned so I think it is a valid point worth sharing. Of course, it is important to get a smartphone – but it is doubly important to make sure it is a tri-band smartphone so that you can use it anywhere in the world. It is also important to make sure it is a “sim free” or “unlocked” smartphone, so that you can use it on any network and in any country.

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