As far as sales copy goes “Freed of the city, you are infinite” is actually a little bit on the bad side. It tells you nothing of, or about, the product in question. It could however be an airline ad, but despite its potentially humble/ totally un-humble beginnings, it’s actually the tag line from a 34-page manifesto from a trend forecasting group based in Montreal known as “Logomachy”.
The manifesto’s title sounds right out of a sci-fi movie: “Mass Digital Nomadism: Unlocking New Options for the Information Age” and it attempts to put forward the case, of why freelancers should give up their warm, comfortably and familiar guy/girl caves, coffee houses and places of dwelling in the cities in favour of smaller mobile groups.
Fundamentally, what Logomachy is pushing can be summarised as a “nonconformist movement” Or as I like to call it, the: “How I became a unique snowflake, and so can you” movement. They even have a name for the target demographic: “Nuppy” or Nomadic Urban Professional. In days of old, popular teaching holds we should secure stable employment and live in big expensive houses, but as the job market evolves into a form with less stable jobs and more freelancers, and a housing market out of control (least here in the UK) shouldn’t we be moving toward new ways of doing stuff?
Here at blue sky farm, we harvest ideas all year long!
Logomachy was foundered by Guillaume Dumas, freelance programmer and writer at large. Who, when asked about how all this crazy new space thinking got started, answered “It started as a group of friends that wanted to work together to help new ideas reach more people.” In a rather matter of fact way.
Grounding it’s self rather firmly in the co-op movements that popularised the 1970’s, comes as no surprise as Dumas spent time in a Berkeley co-op in his younger days. “It’s just always there for you, everyone is helping each other out. Some people make dinner, some people would clean, everyone does something purely for the benefit of the community.”
He is however, quick to quell any comparisons drawn beyond that fact: “People often felt trapped in those, just like they feel trapped in cities. It’s not meant to replace society or strip them of their individuality.”
Logomachy views the modern cityscape in a similar light to my pickup lines, unwelcome, dysfunctional and outdated. Logically it’s an understandable view point. Despite our culture undergoing massive transformations in the modern era, we still cling to what is essentially a relic of the Industrial Revolution resulting in urban life happily stagnating for over a 100 years…
Additionally, fact of the matter is City don’t care about your situation son! or in a less urban youthy way: the realities of modern urban living do not change or bend, to suit the changing fortunes of those existing in within it, as Dumas explains “You’re a slave to the city, You can’t go and work in Argentina for a year or something. The city is kind of like a jail”.
That’s the thing about the internet, it has a tendency to over analyse everything.
The foundation of Logomachy’s movement lies, in relocating freelancers/contractors/independent workers out of the urban environment and into small potentially mobile communities, built with the ever changing needs of the freelancer in the wild in mind. Core members of these new communities would help keeping things running finically (without contracts) with money going into a central fund to cover everything from land usage to utilities for the entire community.
With the plan obviously drawing on ideas put forth by the Tiny House Movement, newer members are free to spend as much, or as little as they see fit on the community as a whole, and on their own living situation – tents and sleeping bags are just as welcome as actual tiny houses.
As stated in the report: “Yet all of this is not just about saving a few hundred dollars every month, it’s also about living with the right people. Unavoidably, mass digital nomadism will give birth to spontaneous and semi-permanent gatherings of skilled and enthusiastic professionals, attracted to homogeneous and thriving communities.”
There is a very real, tangible need to escape from city life, from urban stagnation. People with a tendency to think outside the box (those most likely to strike out on their own) are seeking a new way to live in ever increasing numbers. It’s a fact Dumas sums up as such: “The two big things we think people should be able to have are mobility and community, two things that our current urban system just doesn’t facilitate.”
You are in a relationship with society (it’s complicated)
The movement is also keenly aware of the phenomenon best described as “digital escapism” were people live increasingly detached from those in their immediate proximity, and gravitate towards forming “always there” personal online connections via social media, forums, online gaming platforms etc. Logomachy not only supports my socially questionable life choices, but wants to bring other “Me’s” over to play in real life! Or as Dumas puts it: “It’s living with the most interesting people you know, all in one little community”
Despite the possible dystopian future of a community filled with me, and people like me (the memes would flow like wine, and House of Cards would be mandatory viewing) the manifesto does correctly point out that online interest groups could transition to physical communities centred around hacking or even political ideologies. That has the potential to create real cultural hubs for globally aligned subcultures, or simply regress into the physical manifestation of an internet forum… Oh god, the true unrelenting terror…
Like many people, Dumas has already watched as friends and colleagues are slowly but surely replaced due to ever increasing amounts of automation and the ever present outsourcing. But he believe rather firmly that this new digital nomadism will stand counter to this growing trend, stating that by “Standing together, pooling resources, working as a group, thinking as a group, is the key to surviving in the 21st century”
As an untamed freelance writer of the wild, I’m aware that society would rather I be working in standard full-time employment, despite its continuing failure to provide the jobs to do so. And while Logomachy is clearly pushing an agenda here, I’m finding it hard to argue with the reasoning behind the manifesto.
Boomers 2: the re-boomering
The fact is, in the 40’s and 60’s the baby boomers forcibly changed the culture of the west and arguably, the world. Whenever an economic and cultural infrastructure didn’t suit the boomer community, the boomer community changed that infrastructure.
They did so by deciding as one community (perhaps the first truly global community) to use their share of the job market (which at time, stood around the 40 – 50% mark) as a force for change. Well in less than 10 years, around 40% of the work force of America will be freelancers and the current economic and cultural infrastructure doesn’t suit the needs of the freelancing community.
Regardless of freelancers actually being willing to implement this, keeping in mind the fact we already do (we just call them co-op work spaces) it’s still no easy task to promote such a plan in a society, that still clings to the idea of cities being the go-to destination of the professional.
That said, as the cost of living continues to rise, as does the number of freelancers, sooner or later the idea of not needing a city in your life will become the norm. And when that happens, it’s simply a matter of enough freelancers being ok with the idea of labelling themselves nuppies (please, please come up with a better name).
“We want to create the kind of community we don’t see in cities, overcoming the absurdness of city life, where happiness depends on other people rather than yourself.” – Guillaume Dumas
Wolf Vanberg – Freelance writer at large, liked this