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Yu Jie Wu (M, 27)
Guangzhou, CN
Immortal since Jan 19, 2008
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    Nomadism: Paper, Part 1
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    Where forward thinking terrestrials share ideas and information about the state of the species, their planet and the universe, living the lives of science fiction. Introduction
    Featuring Powers of Ten by Charles and Ray Eames, based on an idea by Kees Boeke.
    The most pressing issue is offering a system of living which provides the same physical comfort and safety as a home does. Shelter, heating/cooling, sanitation, cooking and storage facilities, and sleeping quarters are the main aspects that need to be covered.

    The solution is to create a network of dorms, motels, hotels and various living spaces that offer temporary abodes for modern nomads. Unlike the existing hotels, motels and dorms, the period in which the nomads stay is not pre-determined, instead, they can, if they choose to, leave and enter whenever they want, considering that there is enough space. These abodes must be sanitized and comfortable, although not to the level of luxury (to maintain economic viability). There is no need, in this solution, to create spaces that are dedicated to modern nomads. Instead, existing spaces are simply put in a different system and context for this alternative lifestyle. Most of these places will have the proper facilities for cooking or hygiene, and will be well-maintained by the nomads themselves, who will also have to pay for a “membership” that can be used to cover rent in any abode within the network.

    How about storage, then? It is clear that when being a nomad, there is a need to reduce the number of personal possessions, to allow for maximum flexibility. However, it is also clear that in this modern world, there is still a need for physical possessions like books, pens, notebooks and the like, all of which can never be replaced by the computer (at least, not viably at the time of writing). For this reason, a separate storage facility, conveniently located in an approximate neighborhood, has to be created, where modern nomads can store clothes, books, and any possessions they do not need that day. Whenever they need anything, they can simply walk to the facility, and access their personal storage unit through finger-printing technology, or any other biometric system (when it becomes viable and widely implemented). To create such storage facilities, communes of nomads will have to work together to find locations that suit everybody, possibly through mathematical means, in a way subverting the city and re-making it how the nomads see fit.

    But exactly how viable is this living condition? Families will have trouble adjusting to the new lifestyle, so will any group with senior citizens or young kids. Anybody less comfortable with the idea of moving will have trouble. Who, then, is this targeted to? The key target group will be those from the ages of 18 to 30, studying or working, not tied down completely and still experimental and flexible. It is possible to maintain a healthy romantic relationship, and even get married, within this lifestyle, but when children come into play, the situation does change. Although the initial movement will not aim to include people with children, provisions have to be made, as detailed below.

    Child-care centers. Easy as that. For modern nomads, living in a temporary living space would mean not having a place where children (or senior citizens) can stay. The abodes planned will not be large enough to hold any active child, so childcare centers will have to be included in the network that allow for a convenient place for toddlers to play. The same goes for senior citizens, they have the freedom to move wherever they wish, and if they wish to, there will be special centers dedicated to offering them safe and comfortable places to rest during the day. No disrespect is intended here, it is merely necessary to tackle these issue at an early stage in the movement’s development.

    Detailed above is the preliminary plan for the physical aspect of the modern nomad movement, and it covers the basic issues that need to be tackled. Overall, the solution is viable only with community participation. Dorms, motels and other living spaces need to be willing to offer living spaces, in exchange for money of course, and nomads have to be willing to maintain the living spaces and work together to create convenient locations for storage facilities. Without a doubt, the nomad movement will force people to engage even more with others and interact at a deeper level than our society currently offers.


    To be written: Psychological needs fulfilled by human interaction, possible problems, advantages and disadvantages, possible social and humanitarian applications.
    Sun, Jul 12, 2009  Permanent link
    Categories: nomadism, society, future
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    Just the first few paragraphs of the paper.

    Leaving it up here for archive and for comments! :-)

    In a time where physical possessions begin to lose their once-crucial roles, where more and more live in multiple countries and spend much of their time traveling, where identity is becoming less rooted to a physical form and more to an intellectual, ideological and social basis, it seems to be a logical move for humans to begin detaching themselves from permanent dwellings and begin living as “modern nomads”. Being a modern nomad is not to become homeless or to abandon civilization, but to move towards a new form of living, based on social interactions instead of attachment to a place. This paper will attempt to elaborate on the concept of modern nomadism, offer viable plans for such a lifestyle by working to replace various roles of the “home”, determine the advantages and disadvantages of such a lifestyle and share possible social and humanitarian applications of the system.

    What does it mean to be a modern nomad? A nomad, in the traditional sense, is defined as “1. A member of a group of people who have no fixed home and move according to the seasons from place to place in search of food, water, and grazing land; 2. A person with no fixed residence who roams about; a wanderer” by the American Heritage Dictionary, 4th Edition. While searching for this definition, something grabbed my attention. On, when one searches for a word, a list of synonyms appears in the left-most column. When “nomad” was queried, the list of synonyms included were “hobo”, “rover”, “vagabond”, “wanderer” among others. Not all of them had negative connotations, but many did. Although this is simply a script, not necessarily what the social perception of “nomad” is, it is true that many have a negative view of nomadism in general; its ties to barbarianism, homelessness and the struggle against nature seems to go against everything that civilization has worked towards. But the concept to be expounded in this paper is not that. It is necessary to remove all preconceptions of nomads, to wipe clean the slate and create a new perception of the term.

    Being a modern nomad is to have no permanent home, moving around according to need or to desire. Unlike the traditional nomads, modern nomads are not governed by nature completely, they do not have to search for food, or condition their lives around their herds. Modern nomads have jobs, they earn a living through any means necessary. They can be artists, businessmen or politicians, as long as they can support themselves and not fall into the trap of extreme poverty. Modern nomads are conditioned by technology, they have access to computers, modern food, modern facilities and everything that a “normal” person is entitled to. The logistics of such a lifestyle will be tackled later in the paper, but suffice to say, the modern nomad is an otherwise “normal” person living off social interactions, without a permanent home, but with adequate facilities to lead a fulfilling life. Modern nomadism can be seen as a cohesive movement, due to the complicated logistics, as communities are set up to support these modern nomads, much like planned communes from the 1960s onwards.

    Being a modern nomad is not to be homeless, not to be a vagrant, not to be simply a wanderer. Modern nomads are fully functioning members of society, contributing through their jobs or community service opportunities. Modern nomads are not drug addicts, or hippies trying to escape the pressures of the world (although that is one of the aims of the movement). Like mentioned, modern nomads are normal members of society who simply choose to live in an alternative manner.

    Before addressing the issue of leaving the concept of a permanent housing location behind, it is important to first understand the roles of a home and the needs that it fulfills, in order to construct a system which provides for these needs and offer a lifestyle that is viable as a replacement to the current living model. The blindingly obvious needs a home fulfills are the physical aspects of shelter and hygiene. A home offers a place protected from extreme heat and extreme cold, a shelter from natural occurrences like storms, snow or disasters, and sanitary, cooking and resting facilities. If we were to look at a home purely from this physical standpoint, it seems that it would be easy enough to replace the permanent home with temporary shelter-spaces with the necessary facilities. But that is not to be. Not only does the home provide these physical comforts, a home has a psychological and sociological significance as well.

    A permanent home is a place where one always belongs, where one meets people and where one becomes the “lord” of the domain. The concept of belonging is a key aspect of the psychology of homes, as the ownership of a physical location where one sets the rules, and where one can be with oneself, is held as an important achievement by many. This leads on to another psychological need the home completes, ownership. Ownership, the act of having control over a certain object, is a desire held by a majority. Any time people say, “I want…”, they are expressing this desire. And the desire to own a physical plot of land, a house, a home, is a strong desire of ownership conditioned by decades of social interaction and perhaps a more primal instinct.

    Another aspect of the home is a sense of accomplishment, a sense of pride, that can come from having a home worth showing off. A big house is a signal of success and much like a car, the home is part of the complicated social system of recognition and interaction, where it acts as a mark of social and economic well-being. That seems shallow, but is true for many. The opposite is true as well, the lack of a home is seen as a mark of failure, as society looks down upon the homeless. Of course, society disregards the homeless for a variety of reasons, from drug addiction to violence, but a key part of society’s perception of the homeless lies in their lack of a permanent home.

    The home, in a physical and psychological sense, also acts as a point of contact for family and friends, a place where people connected closely can come together in a safe environment for celebration, mourning or any sort of emotional bonding. The place is a facilitator, meaning that the home is merely a conduit for this interaction, allowing it to take place because of the privacy and the familiar environment that is conducive to this sort of meeting. Think of the common holidays, many of them are celebrated in the homes of family or friends. Christmas is one almost ubiquitous example of a holiday that is celebrated at a close friend’s or family’s home. And to balance it out, the Chinese New Year holiday maintains a tradition where family and friends visit each others’ homes to bainian, to visit and wish well. As can be seen, the home is a vital point of contact in human interaction, that fulfills many psychological and physical needs at once.

    Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the home is a place where personal privacy can be attained. Many might argue that with modern technology, there is no such thing as privacy, but for many, the home is a final refuge from human interaction and the outside. The home is where the most private things can be done and that is a necessary physical and psychological need that the home fulfills (although some believe that this is about to change drastically).

    With the needs of the home defined, the next step is to define how the needs can be met in a situation where a permanent home does not exist. The basis of all this is the belief that social interactions trump any connection to a physical place, the belief that it is possible to maintain the same level of satisfaction and personal achievement simply by belonging to a group of like-minded individuals, not belonging to any physical location.

    Fri, Jun 19, 2009  Permanent link
    Categories: nomadism
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    Here is a detailed outline of my inquiry into the concept of New/Modern Nomadism.

    Please offer any criticism that you might have, this is the first time I'm embarking on such a journey.

    To view the original pdf on, please visit

    Thank you, and again, I look forward to comments and criticism.
    Fri, Jun 5, 2009  Permanent link
    Categories: nomadism
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    Apologies for the poor visibility of words.
    Will type up soon, this is just a dumping ground for certain thoughts/images.

    Tue, Jun 2, 2009  Permanent link
    Categories: nomadism
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    Hello all,

    So, I haven't been around here as much as I would have liked, not because I've been busy, but because I've been afraid that what I write may not be deemed interesting or worthy.

    Lately, however, I've been thinking a lot regarding the future of our lifestyles, and I finally feel that I've gotten enough of a whisper of an idea to finally write something for my personal cargo.

    From here on, I will try to develop my ideas in various blog entries. The idea revolves around being a modern nomad. Note: This idea is somewhat related to the "Digital Nomads" movement, but taking it to a whole new level. This is not some gimmicky post about how technology and social media are changing our lives (which I'm pretty sure everyone knows anyway), but a look into how we live as human beings, and where we are headed.

    First, in order to develop more ideas on living without a permanent home, it is first essential to define what a home is.

    A home is a place of residence or refuge and comfort.[1] It is usually a place in which an individual or a family can rest and be able to store personal property. Most modern-day households contain sanitary facilities and a means of preparing food.

    Of course, that is the broad definition, I ask everyone, what is the definition of a home for you?

    Second, a definition is all fine and good, but the function of a "home" is more pertinent to the discussion. Here is a list of what I believe a home provides.

    • Offers protection from nature/other people.

    • Allows for storage

    • Provides sanitary facilities, cooking/eating facilities

    • Acts as a grounding base, a point of contact for intimate relationships

    • Allows for sentimentality

    • A place to play, to recreate (referring to land outside the building as well)

    • A sense of security and ownership

    These are just some of my ideas, please feel free to add to the list.
    What are these things good for? Can other things satisfy these needs?

    A home offers intangible and tangible benefits, everyone can agree. But can these benefits be satisfied by other structures/interactions/lifestyles? Can a person truly live without a home and feel comfortable, safe and 'made' in our modern world? Nomads have existed for at least tens of thousands of years (thinking only in terms of their relationship with settled peoples); what is stopping the rise of a new group of modern nomads?

    The key question may be: Are human interactions more important than a sense of physical being? As in, is it possible to replace the security that people feel when having a permanent home with a security derived from personal relationships?

    Or has media, our culture and a whole host of other factors made that impossible?

    What is the viability of this sort of lifestyle for those with families, young children or aging parents? What age group would be most likely to become temporary nomads? Is this something that can be done on college campuses to increase productivity? Will it increase productivity or intellectual stimulation? What can come of this?

    So many questions, very few answers.
    I will hopefully answer a few in the months/years to come.

    To do:
    Research nomadic groups of ancient history
    Research nomadic groups in modern times
    Research the psychology behind homes
    Interview the homeless (?)
    Develop a theoretical system of rotating living areas that can be shared, and which provide the flexibility of nomadism

    Tue, Jun 2, 2009  Permanent link
    Categories: nomadism, future, society, life
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