May 2008


Written by Lori Thiessen

So it seems like this whole nomad way of life is really catching on. Prominent and envelope-pushing architect, Frank Gehry, apparently built the Stata Centre at MIT with this new way of de-centralized working in mind. The building looks freakish but then anything truly new tends to look freakish. According to the April 12, 2008 edition of the Economist, the “student street” blends places to study, eat, sleep, or pitch a little woo. There are no borders in Gehry’s brave new building from the lack of defined spaces to free Wi-fi everywhere.

For the average cyber-nomad, the daily commute is really more like a series of commutes. Errands and kid-related things can be squeezed in between conference calls, online chats or face-to-face meetings. Depending on the daily task sheet, the java commuter can make stops at a number of coffee shops to either do meetings or focus in on a particular project. Alan Pisarski, a trend-watcher and author of “Commuting in America” claims that instead of a direct route from home to office and back again, the commute is looking more like a daisy chain.

For my two cents worth, this roaming around even just reading about it, is exhausting. How much time and money are we wasting driving around in search of a working oasis? Plus parking, plus carrying our “stuff” wherever we go. A friend of my brother-in-law, a graphic designer by trade uses two monitors so hucking his crap around isn’t that efficient. He’s more of a cyber-farmer than a nomad – a patch of land rather than making the daily round.

Here’s a look at what the nomad life would look like before laptops.

“Mobile Desktops” from ImprovEverywhere

Q: Which jobs don’t lend themselves to the java-commuter workstyle? Please don’t put stuff like dairy farmer or something.

Thanks for stopping by and I’ll save your seat for you until next time.

Written by Lori Thiessen

Can you hear me now? In their latest ad campaign, Verizon is flogging an internet connector thingy (can you tell I’m not really a techno-geek) that will allow you to become the happy laptop wanderer you’ve been longing to be. Or were you?

The commercial features a woman attempting to leave a coffee with her laptop still operational. From the ceiling a set of bars descend imprisoning this poor person. She is taunted by her fellow laptopper who asks if she’s in for wi-fi. A rather haughty and scruffy coffee shop counter clerk demands to know where she is going.

With the gift of the Verizon connector gizmo, this woman walks confidently out of the coffee shop and into the big wide green space and ends up on the end of a dock, balancing her laptop on her knees.

All this for a mere $39.95/mo. What the gizmo itself costs, the ad does not reveal.

Frankly, I think most of us will still want to hang out at the coffee shop at least part of the time to get work done because it’s warm, there is good coffee (if there isn’t good coffee where you are, find another place), wi-fi (usually free), and people.

Like most people, I want solitude from time to time. I will sometimes work from my car. I’ll drive over to Stanley Park to the Second Beach parking lot and park my car facing the ocean. Though it’s not always easy to balance books, laptop and other paraphernalia that I’ve lugged with me, it is nice to glance up at the vast blue-grey ocean from time to time.

However, I think if you are going out into big green spaces, be respectful and give Mother Nature your full attention. Save the laptop and work worries for the caffeinated spaces.

Q: What do you think about roaming in the gloaming with your laptop?

Thanks for dropping by and come again soon for another cup of virtual coffee and conversation.

Written by Lori Thiessen

The Network Hub is another “thirdspace” option for neo-bedouins in Vancouver. Located on Richards Street (not far from SFU-Downtown Campus and arguably the best used bookstore in town, MacLeod’s), it provides a temporary place to hang your hat for your 9-5 endeavours. With a funky, lofty look, you can feel like you are in a hip and happenin’ community of other folks on the verge of wealth and greatness. As this blog is about coffee, I feel beholden to say a word or two about the Network Hub brew. At the WordPress Camp on Wednesday, April 30th, the coffee du jour was a Canadian favourite – Tim Horton’s. So there you have it, my friends. Check out The Network Hub on your trusty laptop at http://www.thenetworkhub.ca.

Response to Naming the New Worker

Thanks to Ed and Aaron for making suggestions about a possible name for the new worker (a person that works at least part-time from a coffee shop). Ed suggested that the position itself could be named “iJob”. Aaron went for something a little more practical and descriptive like “Caffeine Addicts Anonymous”. If you have thought about it and come up with a name, it’s never too late to submit your idea. Personally, I’m working on “Java Commuter”. I’m even warming up to neo-bedouin.

Q: What other workspaces in Vancouver have you come across? Which is your favourite and why?

Thanks for dropping by and come again soon for another virtual cup and conversation!

Written by Lori Thiessen

So there you are. A proud neo-bedouin worker, sitting in your local coffee shop and you’ve pitched your business ‘camp’ for the next few hours. The mug of java is steaming away beside the gently humming laptop. Being in a coffee shop instead of at home brings you into contact with other humans, away from your ever-growing pile of laundry, and helps you to feel like a real working grown-up. Working from a coffee shop also gives you an opportunity to network with others and promote your business.

There are a couple of ways to do this. One is to strike up a conversation with your fellow laptoppers, but be sure that you aren’t going to be interrupting them while they are working. If both of you happen to taking a quick break from work, then smile and say hello. As a friendly, talkative sort myself, I’m on constant guard to make sure that I’m not overstepping my welcome by talking too long. Going to the same coffee shop on a regular basis allows you to develop new connections gradually and naturally. Whatever you do though, go easy and be respectful of others time and space.

Two is by visibility. When you don’t have an office or a permanent place to hang your shingle, physical advertising becomes a challenge. However, don’t despair you do have advertising space available to you. In fact, you, your body is advertising space. A t-shirt with your company logo is one way of getting your business name out there. Frankly, I’d stay away from baseball caps with your company logo emblazoned on it, but that’s just me. You can also have a patch made with your company logo and have it sewn or attached to your laptop case.

Apart from your body, another physical space for advertising is the back of your laptop screen. A little like Les Nessman’s imaginary office walls (WKRP fans will get this, for everybody else talk amongst yourselves), the back of the laptop screen acts like an office door. So why not stick something on it to help promote your business. Stickers are fun and relatively inexpensive. If the idea catches on, sticker swapping can have the back of your laptop looking like a well-travelled suitcase. Of course, these ideas are based on how dignified or funky your business is, or you are.

Q: What advertising or promotional methods for laptop start-ups have you seen (and liked, or not liked)?

Thanks for dropping by and come again soon for another cup of virtual coffee and conversation!