Thursday, 10 June 2010

Hermit crabs, Astronauts and the rest - what kind of mobile IT user are you?

Common Swift (Apus apus) in flight.Image via Wikipedia

Can you see yourself in one of these?
The Swift
Swifts migrate, between their summer and winter feeding grounds. Our swifts commute, between home and campus. They have nests in both locations, a work office and home office set up just the way they like. They don't carry much, and access their files through a VPN or Remote Desktop. But away from the nest they can get lost and frustrated, unable to get much done.
The Astronaut
Astronauts travel far, exploring hostile new frontiers. But they can't rely on any infrastructure in the places they find themselves, and must carry their entire life support systems. They have to worry about everything. A university astronaut might be a botanist in the jungle with their own satellite uplink and electricity generator.
The Nomad
Nomads are the opposite of astronauts - they are defined by what they leave behind, as the environment will provide it. A desert nomad carries little water as they know where the oases are. A digital nomad knows that every town has a Wetherspoons with coffee and free Wifi. They have no need for a heavy laptop with all their work on it. Nomads can be spotted by their lightweight netbook, Blackberry or iPhone. They store their work online and access it from any computer they come across.
The Hermit Crab
Hermit crabs are somewhere between astronauts and nomads. They travel, but have the burden of lugging a heavy bag everywhere they go. It's got the laptop, the charger, the spare battery, and a collection of all those annoying cables, dongles and adaptors that you hardly ever need except the one time you forget them.
The Monk
Monks spend most of their lives behind the walls of the monastery. They contemplate reality without leaving their cell, even if that gives them a narrow view of the world. On the rare occasions when they do venture outside they are calm and serene. They don't need any electronic communication tools as it is all in their head. They give you their undivided attention, free from all the interruptions that plague the modern multitaskers.
Based on the taxonomy of mobile users by Paul Saffo, forecaster and researcher at Stanford

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