The cult of the bedouin hacker owner Kevin Burton sets up shop several days a week at Ritual Roasters in San Francisco. Chronicle photo by Mike Kepka

Dan Fost of the SF Chronicle has been following coworking for some time and today has a cover story on the neo-nomads stalking out free wifi and power in San Francisco.

While the article gives a good overview of the culture of independents working out of cafes that lead to coworking, he conspicuously makes no mention of the many efforts to create physical spaces and efforts cropping up to proactively support this lifestyle.

In fact, in a slideshow called Urban Nomads, the first slide specifically leads off with text that reads:

A new breed of worker is flourishing. With laptops in hand, these tech savvy workers shirk the confines of cubicles to roam San Francisco coffee houses. Instead of renting office space, they pay for coffee and scones. They call themselves Bedouin workers and say they are changing the nature of the workplace.

(emphasis mine)
While this might be anecdotally true of Kevin and Jonathan, it ignores the progress our community is making in setting up sustainable, community-driven productivity spaces. It also seems to suggest that this behavior is specific to San Francisco, when in reality, this trend of independent working is happening around the world in equal measure.

Judging by the attendance at the coworking meetup at yesterday, I’d say that it’s important that the story told is one that acknowledges the work of an international community that is working to meet its own needs by creating, building and renting spaces for modern independent workers. It’s not so much that the cafe environment isn’t a good one for us (I’m writing this from Halcyon in Austin), it’s just that there’s more to the story than Dan is reporting on. And, as someone who’s visited Citizen Space and The Hat Factory, I hope that in a later article, he’ll address the work that we’ve begun to move even beyond the cafe environs to creating work spaces of our own design and desire.



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