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Summary:

What exactly does it mean to be a web worker? I suppose we could make a Web Worker Quiz with items like “you have a T-Mobile HotSpot account,” or “you live in Gmail, Google Talk, and Google Calendar.” We could assign you a rating of your […]

What exactly does it mean to be a web worker? I suppose we could make a Web Worker Quiz with items like “you have a T-Mobile HotSpot account,” or “you live in Gmail, Google Talk, and Google Calendar.” We could assign you a rating of your web workerness, make a little badge for you to put on your website. But that wouldn’t capture the spirit of Web Worker Daily. We’re about seeking work satisfaction, making human connections, and being willing to do things in a different way than they were done before.

Where does the Web come in? As a tool that supports all of those activities, not as an end in itself, and as part of a social revolution that makes it possible now more than ever to define work the way you want to. While you’ll find plenty of reviews of the gear and sites that make your online life more productive and fun, WWD aims beyond your flying fingertips to your heart and soul.

So how do you know if you’re a web worker? Can you be a web worker if you telecommute? Does web working require the use of Ruby on Rails or Ajax? Do you have to be far away from your teammates to be a web worker? None of those things determines whether you are a web worker. You define whether you are a web worker or not. You know whether you are a web worker or not. You may have even had moments in your life where you realized that the Web had permanently changed your attitude towards your working life.

I’ll share my most recent web worker moment with you. I knew I was a web worker when I quit a job by email, against the advice of my friends and family. Like Britney’s discarding K-Fed with a “u r dumped” text message, I chose the tool that worked best for me–asynchronous and text-based–even against conventional wisdom that said I should use the phone. Around the same time, I created and negotiated new business relationships all by email and IM with people I’d never met except online. Everything I had learned about career management–that getting a job requires a resume and an interview, that quitting a job must be done on someone else’s terms or by old standards of what’s proper and what’s not–has been overturned by the new ways of working and connecting that the Web enables.

I’m interested to know what IM program you use, how you want Gmail to be better, and whether you prefer pen and paper or online to do lists. I’m even more excited to explore new ways of working with you, to hear about your defining web worker moments, and to succeed together in this new Web order.

  1. I think being a web worker these days is about being in almost constant flux. This goes hand-in-hand with being a freelancer, which I am. I don’t really consider myself a web worker, but more like a worker very savvy to what the web can offer. The tools to do what we do are changing so rapidly, and new ideas on how, or even why, to do things crop up daily.

    I’m fascinated with things on the web in a personal way, that also reflects in my work. It’s probably a common thing for web workers to have this cross-over of work/personal interest, since most of us are in this type of work because we are passionate about it.

    As for tools, they change too often as well. I’m off the Google teat, since I crave more control and less “corporation” feel in my stuff. Then….they go and release Google maps for my treo. What’s a geek to do?

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  2. Yes, the constant flux: I keep wondering when it will settle down into an easy and stable routine. Probably never, because that’s not the career path I’ve chosen. Does get tiring sometimes though.

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  3. Here’s my definition: If your (choose one: cable modem, DSL line, T1 line, EDGE/EVDO/GRPS/3G) connection went down, would you still be able to do at least 50% of your job? If the answer is no, you’re a web worker.

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  4. Working with web technologies for the last 10 years, and in IT over 20, I have seen a lot change, so always in flux to be sure… although I cannot help thinking that the whole internet and related technologies is so similar to my days with IBM system 38’s or DEC VAX… using languages like MEGA and so on…. strange how the technical world revolves….

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  5. Good definition, Judi. I’d be lost without my Internet connectivity… if it went down here at my home, I’d be off to Einstein Brothers in a flash.

    @David, I too see the technical world revolving, moving in a spiral rather than in a forward march. Maybe I’ve been in it too long!

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  6. This post certainly describes me and how I work. I have never physically met or spoken to 25% of my clients, but this type of business relationship is now normal for me.

    My work and personal interests constantly intertwine, and I’m in a constant state of educating myself, following my interests in the web and searching for the best tools to work with. We’re moving house in 2 days and the thought of having no internet connection for a couple of days does worry me, and severely limits my ability to work.

    I certainly wouldn’t have it any other way at the moment, as I have the freedom to choose when to work and when to spend time with my family – viva la web worker!

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  7. I think it’s pretty simple. You are a web worker if you are paying all your bills as a result of working on the web. Whether or not you use this email client or that calendar or whatever (those things are software trends) is rather insignificant. Being able to pay your bills is different however, because it’s proof that you’ve spent the time (years in some cases) learning your craft.
    Also, be careful with this new found attitude that we can quit jobs by email, find new ones, etc. We are still human after all.

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  8. [...] I think that for a goodly percentage of what I do, I’m demonstrably a web worker. [...]

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  9. I’ve realized that I’m a web worker when someone told me that my business is keeping me from having a social life and I responded the web is what gives me a social life.

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  10. Basically, I believe that LivNLet and Judi Sohn have provided the answers that best describe a web worker. I do close to 90% of my work online, and make all my money from that! Whenever my internet connection goes down, I feel like fish out of the water, because there’s nothing to do. I invested in smartphones with GPRS connections so that even when I am on the move I can keep working online.

    I use Yahoo Messenger on my desktop, laptop and smartphone. Email is my preferred medium of communication, though I know when to go the traditional route. But most jobs and contracts I have gotten have been by email.

    I certainly am a web worker ;-)

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