Will Logomachy Start a Cultural Revolution for Freelancers?By Spenser Davis October 8th, 2014
Freed of the city, you are infinite.
That sentence reads like copy for an airline ad. It could be, but it actually comes from a 34-page manifesto from Logomachy, a “trend forecasting group” made up of freelancers based in the Montreal area. The manifesto, which makes a case for why freelancers should move out of big cities and live together in small mobile communities, has a title that belongs in the next Terminator movie—”Mass Digital Nomadism: Unlocking New Options for the Information Age.”
Logomachy is proposing a nonconformist movement many people may not know about. They even have a name for their target member—the nuppy, or the nomadic urban professional. Typically, we’re taught to secure a steady job and own a large house, but if the job market is rapidly evolving and the number of freelancers is increasing, should we really be striving for a more flexible alternative?
Logomachy’s founding member, Guillaume Dumas, a freelance programmer and writer, told me: “It started as a group of friends that wanted to work together to help new ideas reach more people.”
The group draws partly from the co-op movement that was popular in the 1970s. Dumas spent a short time at a co-op in Berkeley, Calif., when he was younger and was impressed by how well the system worked. “It’s just always there for you, everyone is helping each other out. Some people make dinner, some people would clean, everyone does something purely for the benefit of the community.”
But Dumas is quick to brush off any comparisons beyond that: “People often felt trapped in those, just like they feel trapped in cities. It’s not meant to replace society or strip them of their individuality.”
Escaping the grind
Logomachy sees the city in its current form as dysfunctional and outdated, a bygone relic of the Industrial Revolution. Our culture has undergone major transformations, but our relationship to urban life has largely stayed the same for more than a century.
The harsh realities of urban life don’t often bend to the changing fortunes of those living off of contract work. “You’re a slave to the city,” Dumas said. “You can’t go and work in Argentina for a year or something. The city is kind of like a jail.”
Mass digital nomadism
The basic tenet of Logomachy’s movement is the relocation of independent workers from an urban environment to one of many small communities built to suit an adaptable lifestyle. Members of these communities would pay for the areas they occupy, without contracts, and the money would go toward a central fund that covers the land, utilities, and other necessities for the entire community. The plan is partly inspired by the Tiny House Movement, but members are free to spend as much or as little on their living situation—tents and sleeping bags are just as welcome as tiny houses.
From the report: “Yet all of this is not just about saving a few hundred dollars every month, it’s also about living with the right people. Unavoidably, mass digital nomadism will give birth to spontaneous and semi-permanent gatherings of skilled and enthusiastic professionals, attracted to homogeneous and thriving communities.”
Where the cool kids are
Dumas sums up the need to escape the city and carve out a new way of living like this: “The two big things we think people should be able to have are mobility and community, two things that our current urban system just doesn’t facilitate.”
People often live detached from those immediately around them, opting instead to build personal connections via social media. Logomachy wants to bring all of those people, those who live and connect online, to an actual physical space.
“It’s living with the most interesting people you know, all in one little community,” Dumas added. In the manifesto, Logomachy points out groups could form around specialized lifestyles (veganism), shared interests (hacking), and “alternative spiritual practices, political ideologies and various sexual identities, at the point of becoming real cultural hubs for the global subculture.”
Dumas has already seen his friends and colleagues lose jobs due to automation and outsourcing but believes the nomadism community are a way of standing against such trends. “Standing together, pooling resources, working as a group, thinking as a group, is the key to surviving in the 21st century,” he said.
Will it work?
As a freelance writer, I know how stressful it is to fit into a society that tries its hardest to force you into full-time work—even when there are few such jobs available. Logomachy clearly has an agenda, but there is sound reasoning behind their radical plan.
In less than a decade, 40 percent of the workforce in America will be freelancing. If the current economic and cultural infrastructure doesn’t suit the freelancing community, then the community needs to change the infrastructure.
The plan will be hard to implement in a society that considers urban areas as necessary destinations for professional success, but I think it could eventually work. As long as cities continue to be increasingly expensive and the workforce includes more freelancers, it could become the new norm if enough people buy into the concept (and the idea of labeling themselves nuppies).
“We want to create the kind of community we don’t see in cities,” Dumas said, “overcoming the absurdness of city life, where happiness depends on other people rather than yourself.”Image by pogonici