Neo-bedouins bringing the Left Bank to the 21st century

“There is nothing more free than being a Web worker,” Malik says. “There is no boss. You work for yourself. This is the new Wild West. The individual is more important. That’s the American way. It’s about doing things your own way. Web workers represent that. … It’s the future, my friend.”–Om Malik

Excuse me, while I push my esspresso aside and butt out my smoke (thoughtful exhale).  The San Francisco Chronicle covered something is easily “all that is old is new again”, the 21st century cafe (now with WiFi and no smoke) is the incubator for the newest ideas.  Where the great minds of our (Internet) time meet, converse, collaborate, and work.

A new breed of worker, fueled by caffeine and using the tools of modern technology, is flourishing in the coffeehouses of San Francisco. Roaming from cafe to cafe and borrowing a name from the nomadic Arabs who wandered freely in the desert, they’ve come to be known as “bedouins.”

San Francisco’s modern-day bedouins are typically armed with laptops and cell phones, paying for their office space and Internet access by buying coffee and muffins.
Source: Where neo-nomads’ ideas percolate / New ‘bedouins’ transform a laptop, cell phone and coffeehouse into their office

Nothing new about this, really.  Pubs, cafes, the Paris’ Left Bank, all have been home to the illuminati of their generations.  Great ideas, great debates, great conversation.  Is today anything new or different?  When I started thinking about this post I thought, “Eh, not really.  It’s still just hanging out in a cafe.”  Then it hit me.  In the past, people might have gotten some “work” done, but did the greats do much actual “work” there?  Yes, of course, some did, but today, today with nearly ubiquitous Internet access, you can get “work” done before your Americano even gets chilly.

That is the inherent difference.  Work is now “placeless”.  I can be productive in my home office or my favourite cafe in Sidney (Serious Coffee).  I’m still sipping coffee in either place (theirs is a lot better).  Nice chair.  Music.  i just sit down, fire up the e-mail, read, type, respond, blog, firefight, polish a proposal.

I only wish I could do the same thing closer to home.  The bakery in town doesn’t have WiFi.  The WiFi around the Centre is for-pay (argghh!!!).  Okay that I’m I’m one of the few geeks on Island, so I kinda stand out.  Not the same culture here to sit and chat for a while.

Regardless, this mindset, that work isn’t a place, it’s a set of things to be done, is one of the things that is making Jim and I successful.  We’ve rarely worked on stuff in the same room, heck even in the same timezone!  No matter.

If we did start an office, I imagine a pretty open room, couches, good coffee, big tables, lots of whiteboards.  Regardless, this new cafe culture, this culture of work where you are inspired, where you can connect.  This is what is going to drive the Net to new levels and bring us better applications.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, my esspresso is going cold, and my smoke went out.

See also: Web Worker Daily


Technorati tags: , new cafe culture, cafe work, neo-bedouins


  1. I don’t know what you are working on, but for my main job (namely coding) a café is way too noisy and the notebook screen sometimes a bit too small. However, when those do not apply, a GPRS flatrate really rocks. Being online while on the train!

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