“In a relatively short period of time we’ve not only determined that the world isn’t flat, but that there are people just like us on the other side of it longing to connect.”
I find it such an exciting time to be alive. We are just beginning to really experience a life of globalization as technology progresses to bring the world to our fingertips, no matter where we choose to rest our heads. In a relatively short period of time we’ve not only determined that the world isn’t flat, but that there are people just like us on the other side of it longing to connect.
For someone who is a self-proclaimed computer nerd, I’m finding that keeping up on current trends is giving me the ability to maintain a lifestyle on the move while staying in touch with family, friends, and personal connections. Just by plugging myself into the internet once in awhile, I can go to work, see my friends, and email my nana. Despite her having Facebook, she isn’t plugged in much further than the SMTP port. We can use this communication infrustructure as a tool of connection while we trot around the world wherever we please.
Today with Skype it’s possible go beyond the simple forms of communication of the past. I can not only hear the voice of distant friends, but look them in the eye, watch them play a newly written song, show them the place I’m staying and introduce them to my current host, and allow them to see my smile when they make me laugh. The ability to travel to the far corners of the world is becoming more affordable, and the ability to stay in touch while doing so is becoming an easily managed feat.
Writing a blog is no longer the LiveJournal I had when I was 14 years old, read only by my high school friends. Today I have analytical tools to tell me that people are reading, email to tell me that people are listening, and a Facebook for people to give me a simple thumbs up. I can understand how the internet works and how people are finding my websites. I like the idea that when someone types in ‘chuck manley couchsurfing hitchhiker detroit’ they find me. The internet can keep us in contact with each other if we use it as a tool to leverage ourselves and our social circles. With learning search engine optimization, I can turn my name into a keyword and leave a permanent record of myself when I’m gone.
I remember wanting to set off to try my hand at a more nomadic lifestyle and incorporate constant travel into my life. When I was younger I had this romantic idea of hitchhiking around the country. Not knowing how to do that, I did what any remotely tech savvy person would do: I Googled it. I found the website digihitch.com and it opened my eyes to a world I never knew existed. Through that site I found a post asking for advice on where to sleep when traveling on the cheap. The advice varied and included hostels/hotels, stealth camping, and hospitality exchange sites like couchsurfing.org.
Couchsurfing connected me with people far and wide that not only made me feel a little less alone in this world, but also became very important people in my life as I increase my social circle to be Earth’s first ring.
The internet has turned my highly portable electronic device into a tool that allows me to know there’s a world that exists out there far greater than any of my senses can perceive right now. This trypewriter with a screen gives me an incomprehensible amount of volumes of information at my disposal and takes up the space of a single paperback novel. Smartphones are getting smarter and capable devices continue to get smaller. These devices are combining our ability to stay in touch with one another and store vast amounts of information, media, faces, and lives. Is it far fetched to assume that one day we may be able to download our brains to a sim card and plug them into new bodies, and create a digital reincarnation?
This idea is bigger than just being able to stay on the move. Technomads have the ability to incorporate this utilization of technology in a way to sustain themselves on the road. As any traveler knows, sometimes it’s easier to go home and make some money before resuming travel. With a laptop the writer can submit his new article from the exact spot it was written. The DJ can take an entire library of music with greater ease than carrying a single vinyl. A web designer can code MySQL databases from the comfort of a hammock in Thailand. The working nomad no longer has to trade services for food and lodging. We can make a real living that can be packed up smaller than a sleeping bag.
The world is changing quickly in a variety of ways, both good and bad. This ability to share ideas around the planet in an instant is a part of this rapid change. These capabilities allow the wanderer to always be close to home no matter how far away they feel. With a bit of ingenuity the nomad can carry not only his house on his back, but also a home office. I’m excited to see where things will go in the future and how they help make the planet my home. Lastly, I look foward to the day that this technology makes the intergalactic nomad a real possibility.