Living on the edge of tomorrow, delving into new realities by setting up real life nuPhilosophical experiments. Design thinking & prototyping applied to real life. Since we all know exploring futures doesn't need to be a headtrip.
Nomadz.nu is a nuPhilosophical Futures Experiment with the purpose to explore the boundaries of Digital Nomadism. In 2010-2011, Ine and I traveled and lived on 3 different continents (Cape Town, Thailand, Buenos Aires) for 1 year all the while working as freelancers for clients in Belgium.
We're talking about a time when freelancing was on the rise and coworking had just started taking off but was not really much visible yet.
We were most certainly longing for adventures, but also curious about what possibilities might lay hidden just beneath the surface of a 9to5 working class reality. So we decided to go and explore the question: “Would it possible to pick up our life and take it with us to the other side of the world? And basically everywhere we want, living location independently, while we kept on working, doing the same job as we would have done at home, for the same clients but remotely.”
Think modern nomads, digital ones. Taking your lives with you. Laptops. Skype. Clients. Projects. Facebook. Friends. For one year we lived in 3 different locations all the while working both for clients and on our own projects from behind our laptops, coming back with as much money as when we left, making it a sustainable way of living. At the same time we started experimenting with antifragile income projects and, even more importantly, projects that would make their and our world and life a better place. In the meantime we went wildlife watching, participated at Burning Man, visited Patagonia, enjoyed the most incredible Thai massages & food and learned how to surf.
We were blessed to have been sponsored by Telenet, Sony & Eurostar and to enjoy (inter)national media attention (internet, tv, radio & print).
We have given presentations on the subject at Brussels Girl Geek Dinner, Thomas Cook, Barcamp, TEDxFlanders, Creativity World Forum. Also proud to say that one of these presentations was picked up by Slideshare and make it to 'top presentation of the day' generating more than 200K views, 5K social media shares. We were mentioned in blogposts from Japan to Russia, the US and Brazil.
How does a home of a modern nomad look like? A place where one can come and go: a personal pied-à-terre, a place to call your own, a safe place where you can always return to... while at the same time building in the flexibility for home sharing, renting and other p2p models to optimize freedom of travel global living.
With almost half of the marriages failing in the course of a lifetime, should we continue to build nuclear family homes or step away from the traditional one family home model inherited from our grandparents and design new, better adapted ways of buying, living and designing homes?
With modern institutions surrounding us in the middle of a system crisis, in what way is the traditional model of the state as provider of social security a viable one? While hierarchic institutions still make up for many of today's systems, there's a very clear tendency toward human as a free agent. While with the rise of the freelance economy we are gaining freedom, we also live in a society marked by a lot more complexity and uncertainty. The ideal life of Millennials is built upon adventures and undertaking hero's journeys. But, in reality, it is one characterized by high unemployment rates and insecure retirement funding as well. How can we use property investment to build an antifragile life ?
Following a personal passion for architecture and design Zu Hause is a project in which all the above questions where to be explored. While originally planning this to be a 1 year project, it ultimately became a 4 year journey during which my life’s landscape changed quite a lot.
This culminated in less of a focus on the p2p and nomadic home elements (although it might do so again in the future), and more on the building of a antifragile life, a definition of home in a very different way.
That being said: the learnings, experiences and continued influence of Zu Hause on my life and perspective aren’t of less significance. The project’s capacity to be flexible enough to move along life’s changes showed characteristic of it being a journey of exploration into an antifragile life.
Because of its ability to render futures tangible, something which enhances the quality of reflection and debate regarding these futures, the use of design can be seen as a powerful addition to the foresight toolbox.
Many of today’s bright minds have been claiming the very same ways of thinking that brought about the industrial age and made possible many of our advancements, have also fuelled the myriad crisis that are now converging upon us. Some even believe humanity to be at a critical juncture, and claim our civilisation needs a new operating system.
These last centuries have been characterised by a multitude of technological innovations, which have given birth to the globalised world as we know it today. And while we live in a fast changing world, much of our institutions and the way our world, your country, your city is being governed has more or less stayed the same.
That’s not to say nothing has changed. But just as early waves of technological innovation in education and health care simply attempted to digitise old practices, early forays into governmental technology involved bringing civil services online en enabling citizens to follow governmental protocols on websites instead of buildings.
We believe much more is possible, still. Just as later waves of edtech and medtech started to modify how power works within those systems - generally giving the learner or the patient more information about herself and control over her experience - so too new governance technologies holds the potential to reroute lines of authority and change what it means to be a citizen in the 21st century.
We stand on the brink of a technological revolution that might fundamentally alter the way we live, work and relate to one another. The 4th Industrial Revolution holds the potential to disrupt and transform entire systems of production, management and governance. Albeit the revolution is quintessentially of a technological nature, in the end it all comes down to people and values. We need to shape a future that works for all of us by putting people first and empowering them.
Since, at the core of every social, political and economic system is a picture of human nature. The premises we assume shape almost everything we do. And not only technology has changed.. So has our notion of what it means to be human, to lead a good life or how to build a just society.
Whereas, at the beginning of modern political philosophy, Thomas Hobbes claimed ‘the condition of man to be a condition of war of everyone against everyone, centuries of research depict a very different, post-mechanistic, image in which both competition and collaboration play an important role. Human beings thrive when given both space for autonomy as human connection. So too, republicans and democrats use very different frameworks to be in the world, both lines of thinking might be equally valuable. But also amongst cultures, we seem to find a multitude of metaphors and different values sets in how to frame the world.