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A Guide to a New Way of Working

Papa was a Digital Bedouin: Wherever he laid his Mac, was his home (office)

By: Staff

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“Digital Bedouin” was one of the new styles of Internet company that grew up after the DotCom crash in 2000, it grew out of the availability then-new of mobile technologies like smart-phones, powerful laptops and wireless high-speed Internet as well as changes in work culture, and a growing host of businesses designed to service the mobile worker. Taken together, these advances made it unnecessary for many people to operate out of a traditional office space. Fast forward to 2008 and the term itself might not have caught on- but the ideas have. This book then looks at how to apply them to your life and job.

The book itself is part self-help/lifehacker, part informational. As an example, the chapter on e-mail is a particularly good: It starts with the problem of “what’s wrong with e-mail”, suggests some ways to mentally deal with it and technical tools to help do this. This idea that technology is only a part of a solution or a tool to help reaching that solution is a thread that runs through this book. I’m tempted to call it a “self-help” book but don’t want to imply it’s somehow a light read about finding your computer’s aura or something. Rather it’s a mix of different approaches ranging from a lists of tools like be they websites or FireFox plug-ins to other resources, definitions and quotes. For instance, in the “escape from e-mail” section they mention one idea, “e-mail bankruptcy”, give a quick summary of this unfamiliar term (to me at least) and then go on to discus it’s possible uses.

There’s a lot of links in this book, and while it sometimes seems like every fourth link is for the Web Worker Daily blog (which the book grew out of- so it fits, I guess), the information is in general good. While it might seem like a lot of material to cover in a small-sized (15x23cm), 280-odd page book, the information is concise, with not a lot of filler.

The layout is a combination of lists, beak-out boxes and quotes mixed into the text. Like a lot of these books, it can be read front to back, or just flipping to a chapter that interests you. As an example, there are chapters on Instant Messaging etiquette or conference call planning provide a number of good tips that might save readers making a few beginners’ mistakes. Some ideas, for example, providing a update message (e.g. “busy until 4pm, e-mail me”) in your IM tag-line are good ideas I hadn’t thought of before.

The last four chapters are a lot more personality-orientated, besides that little problem of managing your money, there’s a fair bit on keeping a work/life balance- particularly important when the potential to always be “at work” exists. It’s a easy read, and I’d recommend it to anyone looking to make the most of free-lancing, as many companies just won’t be ready for all the ideas presented here, but that’s the price of getting in at the start.

Date published: 28-Feb-2008

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