One Laptop per Table


Yesterday I stopped by a different cafe, Jumpin’ Java on Noe, to mix things up a little. I was met with a bizarre scene: the sixteen wooden tables lining the shop each housed one person and one laptop. Each table (well, desk) was disturbingly uniform, down to the empty chair across from the person peering intently into his or her screen. I snapped a picture with my own laptop’s internal camera, so it’s pretty crappy, but hopefully you get the idea. If you find yourself at a cafe that’s ridiculously full of our web worker brethren, take a photo and send it to



This is a ilttle old, but you might find it interesting:

Coffeeshop Turns off Wi-Fi on Weekends

True story from my Seattle ‘hood. And I have to say this to their policy: Hallelujah. While I am a “Web Worker” whole heartedly, I hated it when I’d go get coffee – to GET COFFEE, not to WORK – and I couldn’t find a place to sit because of the laptops. If you’re going to sit and not interact, double up!

The Pigeon Poo

Do Americans even know what good coffee is? I think not. Else, they wouldn’t spend time playing with their laptops.

Rob Evans

I hope you passed out your Web Worker Daily Moo/Flickr cards to them..if you didn’t you missed a trick and some subscribers.


Disagreeing with most comments on this — cafes like this are a “third space” for many of us. Not work, not home, but public yet available for working/surfing. One is “alone together”, which is often a very productive position indeed.
Many people feel more able to work with the background noise that comes from being in a public place, yet none of the folks around you are cow-orkers who will interrupt. Plus there is coffee. Bliss.

William Beem

Honestly, this is one of my pet peeves. If it’s an off time and there are a bunch of laptops hogging a table for four, that’s not a big deal. Sadly, I find my local cafe filled with these goobers during prime lunch time. People who paid for lunch are walking around waiting to find a table while these hogs sit there and nurse a cheap coffee or soda just so they can use the free wi-fi. It’s rare that I see actual work done. Most of them just seem to want to get out of their dismal homes.

Web Workers – don’t hog tables during the lunch hour!


I have a very simple (perhaps too simple) rule for judging cafes.

Great cafes have tables that are TOO large for one person – i.e. they inherently encourage sharing.

I suspect from your photo that these tables are just a bit too small – i.e. they fit one person with a laptop well, but do not encourage two people with two laptops.

In contrast, Ritual Coffee Roasters has multiple tables that are designed for people to share them (large tables with four chairs as well as an oversized table with 8 chairs.

The best cafe I frequented, many many years ago, unfortunately now long gone (replaced believe it or not by the MTV Real World Chicago apartment and then a health club) was a cafe that had a nearly 30′ curved bar as well as huge, oversized tables. Combined this created an atmosphere where sharing tables and casual social interactions were definitely encouraged – like the best bars but without the booze.


The Pigeon Poo

How hopeless! You go to the cafes to relax and chat. Not effing work and tap away on your damn laptop.

Tris Hussey

Eeek! It’s the the 21st century cube farm! We all sit in coffee shops with laptops embibing caffeine and facing the same way!

What a great commentary, though, on how pervasive technology has become in our lives.

Andrew Flusche

Hahaha. This reminds me of our law school’s library. No coffee (darn!), but there is a “protocol” for selecting your table. You cannot double up at a table until EVERY table has at least one person at it. Likewise, you can’t be the third wheel until every table has at least two people. And so on. I guess it’s like the “even building” rule in Monopoly. Maybe this coffee shop has a similar, unspoken rule of etiquette.

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