Digital nomads - folks with a location-independent work and lifestyle that allows them to roam the earth working anywhere that has a good Internet connection - are getting a lot of attention these days.
So I thought I would look into the history of this term and trend.
As you can see from the chart below, the use of the term "digital nomad" started to gain traction in the 2008-2009 time frame.
The number of citations has accelerated since, with Google reporting more hits on this term this month (January 2015) than all of 2010. My guess is this term will have 3x or so the number of citations in 2015 than it did in 2014.
The term itself goes back at least to the early 1990s (probably earlier, but that's as far as I looked) and there was even a book called Digital Nomad published in 1997. A marketing blurb on the books says:
Digital Nomad tells us how current and future technological possibilities, combined with our natural urge to travel, will once again allow mankind to live, work, and exist on the move.
I'd say they pretty well nailed this trend a good decade or so before it got hot. This is usually the case with trends - they're identified years before they start to enter the mainstream.
In hindsight it makes quite a bit of sense that this trend started to take off around 2008-2009.
Decent Internet access had spread globally, improvements in mobile and collaborative technologies made this type of work increasingly viable, cheap international airfares had become more common and the recession got more people thinking about alternatives to traditional jobs.
There's been a number of good articles on digital nomads lately. Here's one more to add to the list:
Eat, Pray, WiFi covers a family spending a month in Bali on a "workation". The article has a great quote describing a digital nomad's office:
Our work tools on this new frontier are whatsapp, smartphones, airbooks, power-charging packs, jamboxes, lean startup tool kits, google drives, kindles, a visa card and a passport. This is a lightweight, mobile office. And it feels great. When combined with wifi and the right community, things really happen.
I'm ready to go, how about you?