The virus that will make us all become knowmads.

Due to the actual coronavirus pandemic we are all forced by the spanish government to stay at home at least for 2 weeks…

Many of us do not only have to practice remote work, but also assist our sons and daughters in their emotional wellbeing and schoolwork. Since the educational system in this crisis has been unable to offer a better solution for our kids than to upload different assignments to digital platforms provided by Big Tech companies -which will make us share large amounts of personal data and help them become monopolistic forces in online learning with mediocre solutions like Classroom- we are faced with the big responsibility of helping our kids learn some valuable stuff from this situation.

So it can be argued that understanding the big impact of this temporary withdrawal of civil liberties (the negation of the right to freedom of movement), figuring out the great consequences of this event in contemporary financial economics (which shows us the weaknesses of the actual capitalist model), and finally acknowledging the need for a new kind of citizenship (one that is made of nomadic knowledge workers) are the biggest lessons we can teach our kids in these strange and uncertain moments…

1) The big impact of the temporary withdrawal of civil liberties by COVID-19:

We can declare that the regulation by the spanish government of their subjects through self-quarantine and self-isolation will achieve the subjugation of bodies and the control of populations (what Michel Foucault called biopower), but if we agree that citizenship grants as many rights as duties, we shall understand that if we accept this voluntary reclusion at our homes (which in fact is an obvious proof of the exclusive control of the power for coercion by the State) other kind of restrictions in our daily lives can/will be imposed. We shall never forget that the freedom to travel and reside in any part of the state it is a right partially recognized in article 13 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, therefore this this momentary deprivation of liberty is a direct attack on our rights and human dignity. In a near future not all movement bans shall be restrictions to combat sanitary crisis like the one caused by COVID-19, but to fight climate change for example by imposing restrictions in airplane flights or the use of fossil fuel powered vehicles in order to reduce CO2 emissions.

All of this goes against classical liberal politics and shows the fragile situation of human rights in the XXI century, but we must admit that in an hyperconnected world understanding the need for cooperation over selfishness might create another kind of thinking about the concept of liberty more aligned with the goals of sustainability, which according to Tony Fry can be attained by a critical use of design. Since we are living in a global era of postdemocratic politics -where nation states have loosen power against central banks and transnational corporations- it’s clear that there is an increasing need for a new kind of governance in order to solve these wicked problems like the coronavirus global health crisis or the obvious environmental dangers we are facing. That is why we need a political reform inspired by open-source philosophy where descetralization plays a mayor force in enabling citizenship in the creation of policies to facilitate collaborative new ways of government.

2) The great consequences of Coronavirus in contemporary financial economics:

The 2020 global stock market crash that began last February due to the coronavirus pandemic has supposed the worst drop since the Great Recession in 2008, and those of us old enough to remember that economic crisis will be aware of the upcoming struggles that we will face in a near future: big loses of employment and economic solvency, which will carry an even more bigger increase of public debt. Trend forecaster Li Edelkoort recently said that coronavirus offers “a blank page for a new beginning”, just for example, pollution from Chinese industry has declined since the virus first hit the country reducing the global CO2 emissions by 6%!!! There is no doubt that the COVID-19 crisis is redefining globalization by making us reflect on the impact of humanity on the planet and, as Rob Cox writes in Reuters Breakingviews, could help achieve the long needed sustainable goals. We are starting to also see how some wild animals are starting to visit (reclaim?) the empty cities in quarantine due to coronavirus, which it’s a sign of nature’s resilience over humankind’s dictatorial urbanism.

Anyway, it seems that we will have to adapt to a slower life and embrace a minimalist attitude since according to Edelkoort we are massively entering a quarantine of consumption where we will have to learn how to be happy with simple things to “make life more beautiful” (like reading a forgotten book or cooking up for the family). Maybe we are at the beginning of what Paul Mason calls a post-capitalistic society, a scenario where we shall rapidly reduce carbon emissions, stabilise the global finance system, prioritise information-rich technologies and minimize necessary labour with technology.

3) The rise of a new kind of citizenship and knowledge worker:

In the 60’s the famous management consultant Peter Drucker first coined the term “knowledge worker” and later suggested that “the most valuable asset of a 21st-century institution, whether business or non-business, will be its knowledge workers and their productivity”. At the turn of the century independent scholar on the future of work and education John Moravec coined the term “knowmad” to describe the rise of a new kind of nomadic knowledge worker that is a: “creative, imaginative, and innovative person who can work with almost anybody, anytime, and anywhere”. So, what we can see is the rise of a new kind of professionals who “think for a living” (in the words of professor and technologist Thomas Davenport) and are composed of creative people whose job is to create meaningful new forms (as urban theorist Richard Florida writes).

According to spanish electric utility company Iberdrola the emergence of these highly adaptive and sought-after workers is linked to contemporary changes in the job market driven by technological innovation, global operations and access to a tremendous amount of data. Regardless of sector or age knowmads are also passionate and curious people with a collaborative spirit and a drive for lifelong learning… In a world defined by uncertainty and accelerating change, organizations need this new knowmadic workers who can navigate, flow with, and create change more than ever. And for now, unfortunately, most schools are not helping students achieve this skills…

So while we remain confined in our homes, to protect ourselves from the danger of this invisible but almighty virus, we will be the protagonists of this necessary adaptation in which our mission is to create a new type of citizen capable of adapting to this weird times…

*(Picture: illustration of knowledge workers at a coworking space, satellite image showing air pollution drop in China due to coronavirus, democracy vs. governance & characteristics of knowmad people).

2 thoughts on “The virus that will make us all become knowmads.

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