Infrastructure of a digital nomad

Outline for an infrastructure for the digital nomad – all you need (and not need) for a location independent lifestyle

We digital nomads live and work on the anywhere we like, on the road but also at home if we choose to.

You can also choose to be at home, just enjoying the nice amenities of home. But you always have the option to go on a ad hoc basis.

If you want to go, it should happen fast and without the need the set up my work and life infrastructure again and again. It must be effortless and neat.

The key is to be able to switch easily between a settled to a nomadic way of life and back – quick and easy. For that you need to have your infrastructure and systems in place, so you can work and live from anywhere you like without wasting time and money to repeatedly create e a total new set-up every time.

As we luckily live in the 21st century, there is a lot of technology available to enable us. We need technology to support us, but we must not forget that is not a mean by itself, it just means to an end.

So I will try to cover it extensively, but it doesn’t mean that I am using all of it. I will outline this here and deepen it in details in the time to come.

So let’s go to the first overview:

1. Data storage: your data, your life

1.1 Hardware based data storage

That’s the classic technology we are used to starting from simple pen & paper in real folder to tape and floppy disks in the end of the last millennium to built-in hard discs and mobile hard discs now.

The disadvantages are known:
– Potential loss of data due to destruction or simply technological obsolence
– bulky, takes up space
– need to organize and make backups

1.2 Cloud based data storage

We can synchronize all our data online now, so we can access the same data from anywhere.

Popular nowadays are for example:

  • Dropbox
  • Skydrive
  • Google Drive
  • iCloud

Many hosting service providers offer them too. You can even set up your own cloud server, but that always involves a lot of technical work.

I personally prefer Dropbox, as it is cross-platform and available for all major desktop operation systems and mobile operation systems, like Windows, Android, iOS, Blackberry etc. It’s easy to install and used the same as a normal system folder on your computer.

1.3 Securing your data

With all the technology moving from analog to digital, from offline to online, from on-site ot off-site, there is still the potential for data loss. Thus we need to backup. The question is where to and how comfortable it is, i.e. how much manual work and hassle is involved.

With all our data out there in the cloud there is of course the major draw back that you don’t know what they do with your data. In the light of the Edward Snowden Affair these days you better presume that they may not even intent to look into your data, but might be forced to reveal it legally or even without the providers knowledge. Companies like Google or Facebook definitely use your data to give targeted advertisements.

This is major concern these days – keywords are: identity theft, big brother. How do we keep our personal information secret while keeping the world comfortably navigable?

So you might want to have your data encrypted with software like TrueCrypt and using other measures. Or just keep the exposure of personal information to the minimum. We will cover this too.

1.3.1 Backup solutions – online and offline

1.3.2 Encryption of your data

1.3.3 Encryption of your communications

2. Communication: Keep in touch with the world and people at home

2.1 Phone Services: Mobile phones, IP telephone, encryption

2.2 Email: Freemail, premium mail, own mail hosting, encrypting emails

2.3 Instant messaging

2.3.1 Classic IM: Skype, MSN, Yahoo Messenger, ICQ, QQ

2.3.2 Mobile IM: WeChat, Whatsapp, Line

2.4 Social networks: Facebook, StudiVZ, Kaixin, Renren, Myspace, Xing, LinkedIn etc.

2.5 One-way broadcasting services: Blogs, Twitter, Microblogs

2.6 Merging of communication services

3. Security and encryption

How to secure your data, while maintaining a good, comfortable access to it.

4. Hardware – a good balance

There are a lot of useful gadgets in the world, but they are also time- and space-consuming. So the key here is to find the right balance. It’s not about the hardware, it’s what you do with it.

This is a short list what I use:

  • Notebook: For active creation but also passive entertainment
  • Mobile Phone: Communication and entertainment and on the road
  • eReader / Pads: For passive consumption like reading, listening to must,
  • Camera: Documenting my life and travels, also as a creative expression, an art form

How to be in control of all your gadgets and cut it to the minimum is essential. I must admit I am not good at it, so I am lugging around too much stuff when I travel.

5. Service Providers: Making your life easy

5.1 Communication and data

5.1.1 Mobile phone service providers

5.1.2 Fixed line service providers (land line telephone, DSL)

5.1.3 Data at home and on the road, as well as in other countries

5.2 Snail Mail – your classic real life post address

5.2.1 Mail sinks

5.2.2 Mail forwarding

5.2.3 Scan services

5.3 Finances and money – how to pay your living expenses and get paid

5.3.1 Banks and bank accounts

5.3.2 Credit Cards

5.3.3 Online Payment suppliers

5.3.4 Anonymous payment systems

5.4 Staying in apartments, hotels, hostels

5.4.1 Hotels, hostels and guesthouses

5.4.2 Renting apartments

5.5 Protect yourself

5.5.1 Health Insurances

5.5.2 Liability Insurances

5.5.3 Other Insurances

5.6 Outsourcing: have others help you in your work and life

5.6.1 What is outsourcing?

5.6.2 World-wide distributed products and services: you are part of it

5.6.3 Outsourcing platforms

6. Resources