20 Nov 2008

Knowmads in Society 3.0

Remember nomads? In the pre-industrial age, nomads

20 Nov 2008

Remember nomads?

In the pre-industrial age, nomads were people that moved with their livelihood (usually animal herding) instead of settling at a single location. Industrialization forced the settlement of many nomadic peoples…

…but, something new is emerging in the 21st century: Knowmads.

A knowmad is what I term a nomadic knowledge worker –that is, a creative, imaginative, and innovative person who can work with almost anybody, anytime, and anywhere. Industrial society is giving way to knowledge and innovation work. Whereas industrialization required people to settle in one place to perform a very specific role or function, the jobs associated with knowledge and information workers have become much less specific in regard to task and place. Moreover, technologies allow for these new paradigm workers to work either at a specific place, virtually, or any blended combination. Knowmads can instantly reconfigure and recontextualize their work environments, and greater mobility is creating new opportunities. Consider this coffee shop in Houston:

The coffee shop has become the workplace of choice for many knowmads. What happens when the investment banker sitting next to the architect have a conversation? What new ideas, products, and services might be created?

The remixing of places and social relationships is also impacting education. Students in knowmad society (or, as I also like to call it, Society 3.0) can learn, work, play, and share in almost any configuration. Remember our videoconference with a fifth grade classroom in Owatonna? The purposive use of technologies allowed standard desks to be removed from the classroom and for students and teachers to instantly reconfigure their social learning environment, allowing for more individualized instruction …and co-instruction among students and their teacher. The differences between students, teachers and colleagues are beginning to blur.

Who are these knowmads in Society 3.0? Workers, students or coffee shop patrons?

(To find out, click on the picture)

Are you a knowmad?

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  1. Allan November 25th, 2008 3:23PM

    Very cool post! Drucker’s knowledge worker gives way to the mobile, nomadic knowledge worker who can travel between geographies, industries, business models with ease. I like what is happening. It’s a little disorienting but those who can embrace the new reality will help to shape it and reap the rewards. Thanks for the thoughtful post.

  2. Anonymous January 22nd, 2009 10:27AM

    At least in Silicon Valley area, the term “DIgital Bedouin” has been coined to describe the sort of person you mention in your entry.

    I think they are more common than one might first think. These folks are the extensions of the freelance movement of the 90s and also include highly mobile / geographically dispersed teleworkers in any company.

  3. Mactificent November 11th, 2009 8:29AM

    Finally, there is a term for who I am and how I work. Thanks for sharing this.

  4. Anonymous May 2nd, 2011 7:28PM

    That coffee shop picture makes me sad! I love my coffee ritual every Saturday with friends where we laugh and exchange intellectually, emotionally and socially. My tweetdeck has never hugged me. Look at a truely creative worksplaces like microsoft or google.

  5. angelica laurencon January 17th, 2012 2:56PM

    thanks for your very advanced design thinking you are sharing with all of us… lurkers, followers and lost somewhere in transaction.

    I appreciate your content, it’s refreshing and disruptive.

    Please continue on this way.


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