Digital Nomads

Internet DNA Podcast

Or as Dan likes to put it - Digital Nomads... Riding on the coattails of poverty. Hippies? Capitalists? Homeless? Economy wreckers? or just living the dream... oh and a bit about why the internet isn't free. 



(this transcription is written by robots… so don’t be surprised!)


I made that this sweet. You weren't going to talk about the dark. Yes ma'am.

Gloria seems to be touring the Alps being more of a digital nomad, so I thought instead, let's use this week to talk about digital nomads mainly because I love the eloquent way. You said digital nomads ride on the coattails of poverty. Yeah. So we're going to talk about this and we will bring up estranged guru back for another week. Yes. First of all, before we go into where exactly what you meant by that, what is a digital nomad apart from our guru who is traveling the hours and probably working every day while he's doing it?

Yeah. I mean, he's not a full nomad. I guess if you were to draw this,

he's not real. He's cheating.

If you were to draw the true stereotype of a digital nomad, you would be thinking of someone who lives in a van.

Oh, right, okay. That number. Yeah.

Yeah. I mean we're going to the true, like the deep level lives in a van or similar sorts of abode, makes them money from the internet and largely exploits the differential between their earning potential and where they live. So let's say I lived in a van, I made videos about mountain biking, but I lived in Thailand. So I'm earning a western level wage, but I'm living in a less developed economy. I don't want to try and stay away from the upset.

Well, they could be developers as well or designers. Yeah. Is that that

massive what you do? I think that's just probably one of the more obvious ones that people might be aware of. Yeah.

And how do they get that Internet, they use satellite on their roof or how do they get it?

The satellite on their roof is one way. G, I mean especially in less developed countries because they sort of skipped the fixed line telephone and went just straight to mobile. Often these countries have actually very good mobile signal.

It's true. I could work off a dongle in India wherever I was when I was being a digital nomad. Yes. Driving around homeless, working for the UK and living around the lovely life in India with my family. So I was, I really was one.

Yes, you are. And I bet it actually wasn't that bad. A life, the traveling with a family way of go on your nerves.

No, that was lovely too. It just got a bit hot occasionally for the children.

Yeah, and you don't have to be moving around. You could be living in a small house, taking advantage of your one pound a night rent.

Well, that's not very nomadic.

This is what I'm saying. You can go all the way to a pure play living in a van type person, but actually there are people who live in a van in developed countries like that. There's plenty of people who live in a van in North America, for example.

Yeah. This one that lives outside my studio in his fam. He's a musician. He's been at this, the digital nomad.

But the idea of, or the driving force behind digital nomadism is that you remove the cost. You can live a freer life by harnessing the power of the Internet to be able to work from anywhere really. I'm sure there are people that do it in the UK, you know, you can still, I mean, I'm going to keep saying living in a van, but it doesn't really matter where you live, but that live in low cost accommodation that probably use a hell of a lot of free Wifi, wherever they can get it. They use that data via their mobile when they can't get it and manage it that way. But

and uh, probably pursuing their hobby or their passion that might be surfing or mountain biking or something else. So they're living the dream on. They just, I was living the dream too. Um, okay. So what you've actually explained is riding on the coattails of poverty.

Oh, okay. So riding on the coattails of poverty is, yeah, but I'm not saying that that's a necessary part of digital nomadism so you can do this in America, but there is an increasing trend of going to live in places where the difference between what you earn. So I'm earning in dollars working for an American company that are paying me an American equivalent wage, but I'm living in, Oh, I don't know. It doesn't really matter. Some other country where your average wage is maybe a 10th of the wage you're earning.

I'll tell you what, all these digital nomads are going to pitch up in the UK after Brexit.

I don't know about that.

Get it. We need to start getting some foreign clients.

Yup. The nomadism part is a bit more Weston based because obviously this happens in a non nomadic way. When you have your development team based in the Ukraine, you're taking advantage of a differential that you're charging clients in the UK, UK prices, but you're paying workers, you cane prices, which I'm assuming, and I don't know this for sure. Oh, we're a lot lower than paying UK developers.

That seems slightly different. In this case, you're not driving around in a van. You are perhaps based in the UK or the u s but you have a team dotted around the world. Yes. You're still saying that you're a digital nomad because you're taking advantage of changes. Differentiation and currency.

No, I'm saying you're riding on the coattails of poverty. Yeah,

a I got it.

Okay. Yeah. Okay. So [inaudible] is a sort of hippie ish ideal, and then the riding on the coattails of poverty is a little bit less. Yeah, exactly. It's a bit misspelled. Yeah, exactly. And so you get this slight disconnect between the way you imagine your life or your express your life and how your life is actually manufactured. Do you see what I mean? If you're not a digital nomad, if you are a digital nomad is riding on the coattails of poverty housing this life of, but actually what you're really doing is hijacking the differential in economy. Yeah. Write it that way.

And you may be sitting not being nomadic at all, but sitting in your little studio for one, two, you know, even in digital, no matter tool, you're just run the wings.

Oh, tails. Oh, poverty. People go, hey man. Well that's just cool. And largely it would be, apart from what you're really doing is driving prices up in countries that don't have the economy to support it because you're able to pay for these the types of resources that the local indigenous population are not able to. So it's seen as a, oh it's win, win, win. Yeah. Kind of for some people, but not necessarily. And there are countries, I think Thailand is actually one of them where this is really not just digital nomadism but this using the differential is starting to create problems for the local population. In some ways it's doing the same as Airbnb is doing in Spain, which is people can't rent the flats for a decent price because people are renting them out as airbnb lets so the local inhabitants can't actually live in the cities they work in. In places like Barcelona where there's an obviously a high tourist football,

oh, podcast should actually be called, but there's always a flip side.

Yeah. Well there is always this, I mean going back to is the Internet free? Depends on

started on that. That's what we're about to come to this is it free? Okay. So we're not going back. Just want to ask one more thing before we move on to that about digital nomads. There is a group of people, and I would say I was not in it, but for example, my working life revolves around going to my studio in a creative space that is full of musicians and artists that revolves around working at home. Cause I like my sisters and my dog. It revolves around hot-desking in different places around the wilds of Suffolk. And it involves hanging out at an incubation lab called shout about or spending half a day with my clients. That is nomadic. But you're not saying that that's a digital nomad.

Well, I'm saying is y'all not riding on the coattails of poverty on the base that on the basis that you're not exploiting a differential between what you can earn and what you need to pay

and goes and sits in cafes. Are they digital? Yeah.

Yeah. So I think if at one point it was called the third space, you could say their digital nomads are living the dream. Yeah. I mean they may be living the dream but they're not living the nomadic or you know where they can move around. They still live in one place. They happen to take advantage of synergies of scale, which is there are a thousand people who need an office but they don't all need it at once so we can probably just have 200 offices and they all share them, if that makes sense. That's an efficient allocation of resources as a positive. Yeah. I mean I think my comment which think hopefully it was made off that was more about the fact that people think of things as, oh that sounds great and it's really free without considering that there are actually consequences of those things. I mean I'm not saying all digital nomads are evil. That's literally not what I'm saying. What I'm saying is there are consequences when you do that exploitation of a differential.

There's consequences to everything we do in our life. By the way, you did isn't to say that riding on the coattails of policies off air, you said it in last week's podcast, which is why I brought it up. Anything off air stays off air of course. So let's move on to now we've cleared that up. Should the Internet be three in four words? One word, one word? No. Okay. I think it should. Why not free? I think there's the difference isn't it? I think people are just waking up to the fact that it might be monetarily free, but they're paying possibly in much worse ways monetarily free Facebook you don't have to pay, but you give away your soul net. Yeah. Hey Internet,

what you choose to do on it and where you talk about Facebook, like if you're not paying for it, then you're the product and that Facebook Ritchie much exemplifies that, which is you don't pay for Facebook because they make money out of who you are.

I'm just pondering that. Yeah, you're absolutely right. I mean I have known about the data for a while, but as there's more and more data online as we talked about last week about the boss data centers, then actually the more and more worrying it is because the more and more people could use it against [inaudible]

but they or I think recently have announced or they probably didn't, didn't announce it cause they Facebook, they have a suicide score that well they take all your running about it on the internet or on Facebook and they score you as to your likelihood to commit suicide

and then they don't do anything about it.

Whoa. That's not Facebook modus operandi. Unfortunately they sell it to whoever the hell wants it is their general business model. Now I'm not saying they're selling there suicide intent data, but I bet they are. Well I'm not going to bet they are, but it wouldn't be beyond things that they've already kind of done. So do you think that Facebook's creating sort of mental health data and then it's using that to profit it? Then we're going back to that idea of social credit data. Am I going to lend someone money who's quite likely to commit suicide? Probably not. Do you see what I mean? Absolutely. Yeah. I don't know how that came from digital nomadism but what I'm trying to say is the Internet is not free. One of the things I was a proponent of for awhile was that you should have to pay to send email. Not much. I'm not talking about a lot, but basically you would have to verify yourself as you. I am Dan Wood and I put my credit card in. I verified myself as who I am and now I can send emails for let's say a hundredth of a penny,

but we do do that. No, we don't otherwise have to verify who I am. When I set up a Google account, in fact, it's often asked me to reverify myself and we have to pay for the privilege, not on your [inaudible] account

privilege of using Google as to send your email. You don't have to pay anyone in order to send email. You can just create a mail program and fire off an email in fact stuff. Oh, I don't know

me. Ah, should we set up a right, you've got your email, the Dan and Abby show and we'll put it to good use to all these roles

on verified email. Then you pay one penny and that gets rid of all these scammers because you're not sending a million emails if it's actually going to cost you 10,000 pounds.

Well I thought that's what campaign software was doing.

Yes, but if I'm a scammer, I'm not using any of these paid solutions. I might, I'm just writing a little program stalling a botnet around the world and firing out of your email. But what I'm trying to say is actually the fact that some of the services of the Internet off free, utterly free, like email leads to a situation where it gets exploited because it's free. The reason why scamming by mail where you have to buy a postage stamp is less prevalent is because of the customer entry. Exactly. Because if you're only going to capture one in 20 million people, you've got to send to a hell of a lot of million people to make it worthwhile. And that is really interesting. The other side of it, I've got it planned for the motorways, which is similar, which is you pay different amounts to be in different lanes. So if you want to be in the slow lane, let's say the slow lanes free, the Middle Lane, you pay, I don't know, I'm going to make up the amount, not 0.1 p a mile, but if you're in the fast lane, you pay one PMO.

That's it. Well, if they can't work out the technology for the border crossings at the moment, then I think it's a little bit of time before they can work out what's going on.

Exercise size, what would that do? Well, a, it would stop people just sitting in the fast lane all the time doing nothing. Everyone would have a reason to move across and it would ensure that the motorways were kept. You know when you've got stuck in a traffic jam, everyone just move into the slow lane. You don't want to sit in the fast lane paying money to go nowhere. So it's just an idea. And this is, if you put that onto the Internet, which is anything where you can see that the freeness of the Internet service is causing a problem, you probably need either some form of verifying that it is an actual person, stuff, all these bots or you charge for it so that it makes that type of scamming. It doesn't make economic sense or at least doesn't make as much economic sense. So knocks a load of people out of that game.

I just wanted this, your car one for bed. Yeah. Isn't it just going to widen the gap between rich and poor because rich guys in their fat beamers or girls, sorry, don't care and will still sit in the fast lane. That's fine. And therefore if you don't have much money and you really need to get somewhere quickly, your stuff.

Okay. But on the other side, if you take our current situation, it doesn't matter whether you drive to the shops and back once a week or you drive thousands and thousands of miles up and down the UK, you pay the same road tax for the same type of car. So all you're doing is saying everyone is getting taxed as if they're rich and using all the roads all the time, which they're not. They are different road users that have different usages and really their usage of the road would be better tax as a usage rather than a flat fee. That's all I'm saying.

Okay. Right. So where were we? We were, I think we've also done your free emails, not free emails. I mean, so there's a real differentiation and it's quite difficult to work out, isn't it, between companies that put a service on the Internet and are either charging you or using you as the product. Yeah. And then the Internet itself, which is underneath all this that nobody is paying for. Everybody is paying for everybody's, how is everybody paying for that?

I don't know who your Internet service provider is,

but I'm paying them. Who are they paying

Dan? We're going to probably be paying the network backbone or whoever provides the actual underlying back room and everyone gets paid one way or another. You know, people aren't sticking massive fiber optic line pipes across the Atlantic for free. There's just no way that's happening. Yeah. So the incidence is not free. No, it's not free. It's not free at all. And actually probably every level it could be a lot cheaper, but everyone's got to make some money cause that's how we all get employed and we all have jobs or not all of us. Do you see what I mean? There's a part of it where you need to make an economy but there's a part of it that's gouging which is you know, monopolies and that sort of thing. I mean when you buy your Internet, you're really buying a certain amount of bandwidth and a certain amount of speed.

Now they bundled that up in loads of different ways and they always bundle it up in a way where they know it doesn't matter that person a uses more than the in the bundle. Cause we know that person B, c, d, e and F, I'm not going to the same as fixed price hosting. I don't have to care that person a is using more than the hosting than we allowed for within his plan because I know that some customer, because I know that. Yeah cause I know that there are 40 people on there with a single page of html.

Okay, so here's a thing. Is there a point at which an industry becomes of a certain age that Zen, the government or the powers that be that run the world go actually we now need to look at this and sorted out properly and put the rules and everything in place or can that never happen and has it never happened in any industry because they just grow organically?

I think it has historically happened but I think what's happened and partly through the Internet and partly just because distance is getting is that being able to say something in one country doesn't mean the same as true in another country. I think this is one of the issues that people are having in and around regulating user data, which is in the European Union. We are party to the GDPR requirements, but someone in Venezuela, just picking a country at random has no conception of that law. It has no idea that that law exists and therefore probably what's the UK actually going to do about all Europe actually going to do about it? Very little. And so the issue is that we live in nation states in a globalized world and it's very difficult to create regulations that people who don't want to adhere to those regulations will do

become a digital nomad and go in another

companies who have a vested interest in being in countries, they will comply. But generally what happens is you just look at these big companies not paying tax because they say, oh well actually we don't make our profit here and we don't sell those things there. And just see what I mean. So it's very difficult for national governments to impose global regulations.

So before we can decide whether the internet should be free or how it's run, we need to solve the problem of global regulation. That's a small thing.

There are people like that. So like ISO who do international standards. So that you know that if you buy a bolt with a tent style strength of x, that is actually going to have the tensile strength of x.

It is a very new thing isn't it? Relatively relatively. Yeah. It's just never had.

And the problem is it's like everything, like there's always going to be two countries that go, no, we're not signing up there. And the problem is is once you've got a hole, all the water leaks out. Yeah, you can always find a country where it's not going to make any difference. So you know, and this is what I mean, I don't really understand the point of tax havens, but they must have a point because otherwise governments wouldn't allow them. But,

but that's a whole another series. Maybe we should become a tax haven. Yeah, maybe can we shoe on that into useful in how that conversation

tell you? But I mean I think it's actually really simple. I think you just create a Po box in one of these tax havens and have that as your registered head office. And I think it's literally, it probably costs them money because that's probably how they make the money. But I don't think it's difficult to do. I think it just requires the will to do it. Yeah.

And then suddenly if you're earning lots of money and you get found out, it could go horribly wrong.

Yeah. I mean if you're David Beckham where you rely on your reputation, but if you're just Dan wood who's got no reputation whatsoever, oh he's in a tax haven and

well have you got enough money to put in the matches to people to whom they reputation matters. I see. If you've got nothing to lose,

you know someone says, oh they've got all their money in a tax haven who and they just go hand. Why the tax havens? There

is the more interesting question and I don't know the answer to it so I don't, I'll say, well I'm actually going to move on cause I think you do know the answer to a lot more things that I'm going to ask you about next week. Okay. We're out of time and next week I would like to talk about which programming language, for example, if you're going to college or leaving college or starting a job, which the languages I should get into and why. And I know there's different types of languages for different types of software and hardware and that sort of thing. So the digital realm, yes. As pertaining to the web, rather than if you want to write software for your desktop computer, well, we could touch them. We touch them. That's it. I'm going to say goodbye and I'll say goodbye to see you next week.


Dan & Abi work, talk & dream in tech. If you would like to discuss any speaking opportunity contact us.