Last fall, the Post ran a story investigating the phenomenon of people not working in offices, but rather establishments that serve caffeinated beverages and starchy snacks, while providing wireless internet. The paper called these people “digital nomads,” breaking free of their cubicles and forging boldly into the networked tomorrow.
Today, urban theorist and “thought-leader” Richard Florida heralds the same cultural shift, recently marked by Starbucks’ decision to offer free wireless in all of its stores. He labels these public offices “fourth spaces,” where you can work and collaborate and socialize at the same time. I knew we needed a name for wireless coffeeshops.
Now, it’s true we desperately need more of these spaces in the District. In Seattle and Portland, two fairly dynamic and creative economies, there’s practically a coffeehouse every block. Here, the spots are so few and the demand so great that the busiest places have started curtailing free wireless, or even—in the cases of Tryst and Stickyfingers—shutting it off altogether on weekends.
It’s hard not to roll your eyes, though, at yet another Florida-ism (a part of his blithe m.o. that is eloquently explored by my boss in this month’s Bookforum). In the Post‘s case, they’re just trying to demonstrate that they’re hip to modernity. Florida—also the creator of the Bohemian Index—actually trades on his ability to academicize everyday life.
Not wrong, necessarily. Just superfluous.
Photo of Tryst latte via flickr user The Michael.