This is an old farsighted paper. Since this technology is mobile, students turn “nomad,” carrying conversations and thinking across campus spaces. The socializing powers of mobility and wirelessness expand the drive into collaboration. Should our physically sedentary campuses embrace the digitally nomadic swarms of arriving students?
I am reminded of Franz Kafka’s “An Old Manuscript,” an account of a nomadic army arriving in an imperial city. The nomads arrive suddenly, surprising the urban population and appearing without warning in city streets, markets, libraries, and homes. Kafka’s tale focuses on the incomprehension of the city-dwellers, as well as on their dogged willingness to attempt living life as if the nomads simply weren’t there. The story charts their progressive decay and their slipping grasp on reality while the nomads build a new civilization literally in their front yard. It’s a very funny story, in Kafka’s unique way, but of course it’s also a cautionary tale, especially for those of us in higher education. At colleges and universities around the world, the nomadic swarms are already arriving.