Digital nomad, digital homebody, or somewhere in between?


Whether your mobile computing device of choice is a UMPC, MID, smartphone, netbook, or notebook, do you like working at coffee shops? Do you enjoy setting up your mobile office in a public place with free wireless access, perhaps exchanging friendly smiles and engaging in small-talk with other people just like you? If so, then you might be interested in the latest articles about your digital nomad lifestyle over at Computerworld and The Washington Post. You'll probably be able to relate to other nomads who apparently "have begun co-working in public places or at the homes of strangers" because they "want the feel of working with officemates."

And if you can relate to that . . . then I can't really relate to you. Not when it comes to work habits and preferences, anyway.

I've mentioned before that despite my passion for mobile devices, I'm actually an anti-mobile user of portable tech. Although I will work away from home if I have to, I never go out of my way and choose to do so. Unlike the social butterflies that are digital nomads, I prefer to work in silence with absolutely no distractions or interruptions.

In fact, one of the reasons I quit my first job out of graduate school (the only "real job" I ever had) to become self-employed was to get away from my co-workers and reclaim the freedom I had before entering the "real world." I was only at that job, where I worked as an editor, for a little over two years but the office politics (not to mention the micro management and ridiculous elementary school playground mentality) were too much to bear. Even though the pay was good, the benefits were fantastic, and I had my own office, I had to get out of there.

But rather than look for another office job in publishing, where I was certain I would encounter the same type of environment, I decided to become a full-time freelance editor and work from home on my own schedule.

Before taking the plunge, I did a lot of research on the pros and cons of self-employment. Aside from the obvious possibility of financial instability, one of the most commonly cited issues was cabin fever. To combat that, I decided that I would leave the house for a few hours every day and go somewhere (a park, the beach, Starbucks, the library, wherever) to write. My master's degree is in English with a specialization in creative writing and I've been writing fiction since I was in elementary school, so I'm never without a short story, play, or novella to work on. Pardon the tangent, but my love of writing is actually the reason I became interested in mobile computing devices in the first place: I wanted something small to carry around with me everywhere so that I could write anywhere.

Anyway, so the plan was to leave the house every day and work in a public place.

More than 5.5 years have passed since then and though my full-time work has changed from freelance editing to running Pocketables, one thing has remained the same. I have never left the house to work in a public place unless I was traveling out of town or I had all-day plans that wouldn't allow me to get some work done either before I left the house or after I got home.

For me, home is where I work; everywhere else is where I play. Yesterday, for example, my husband and I spent the afternoon at the movies, having lunch, and shopping. I could have easily taken one of my gadgets with me to do some work while waiting for the movie to start, after eating lunch, or maybe even walking down the aisles (thanks, mobile/microblogging). But I didn't. And you know what? I didn't even consider it for a second.

The main purpose of a mobile device is to be mobile with it, I know, but that just isn't the case with me. I'm a digital homebody. I love portable tech and will never lose interest in pocketable gadgets, but I think I like the mobile possibilities of the devices more in theory than in practice. I like knowing that I could get all of my work done at Starbucks or the mall if I wanted to. But I don't want to. When I'm at Starbucks, I want to drink my frappuccino and talk to whoever I'm there with. When I'm at the mall, I want to shop.

I spend so much time being connected to the online world at home that I want to be unconnected and present in the offline world when I'm out.

My name is Jenn and I'm a digital homebody. Who and what are you?

Image from Dell's Digital Nomads website.

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Jenn K. Lee

Jenn K. Lee is the founder of Pocketables. She loves gadgets the way most women love shoes and purses. The pieces in her tech wardrobe that go with everything are currently the Samsung Galaxy Note II, Sony Tablet P, and Nexus 7, but there are still a couple of vintage UMPCs/MIDs in the back of her closet.

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