Digital Nomads: The Fine Art of Staying Connected


Now, in the 21st century, telegrams are no longer “a thing.” However, digital nomads still need a means of ...

Digital Nomads: The Fine Art of Staying Connected

Duke Ella Telegram courtesy of imardade.comIn February of 1959, Duke Ellington sent this adorable telegram to Ella Fitzgerald. The Duke’s message is grammatically superior to most of the ones sent during the 20th century. Since you paid by the word, you kept it short and sweet, and did not worry about grammar and punctuation. Sort of like the modern text message. In fact, throughout most of the 20th century, the telegram was the tool of choice for perpetual travelers

Now, in the 21st century, telegrams are no longer “a thing.” However, digital nomads still need a means of real-time communication; not just with their clients, but with the friends, family and lovers they leave behind.

Real-Time Communicating with Social Media

Where in the world is Nomadic Nancy? Inquiring minds want to know. Nothing beats social media for real-time communication with friends and family. Note the emphasis on friends and family. Unless you lead an exemplary, drama-free life, you don’t want your clients to know your personal business.

Which network is best? The one where most of your friends and family hang out. Facebook conversations are lengthier, with more participants and more detail. Sometimes, however, there is a benefit 140 characters of short and sweet. Just ask the U.C. Berkeley student who twittered his way out of an Egyptian jail.  But what if you want to speak with a human voice? Fortunately, digital nomads have a variety of communication options.

Communication Apps for Digital Nomads

As the concept of the digital nomad becomes “a thing,” a vast variety of apps and communication devices have entered the market. And for the most part, they are free to use. Hallelujah! Gone are the days of out of control long-distance phone bills. But now, you have a so many apps, so little time scenario. So how can you be sure, in a world where apps are constantly changing, if you’ve chosen the best one?

Before you make a decision, consider your clients, friends and family members. Uber-geeks often overlook this important detail. While you might already have the equivalent of a PhD in Viber, FaceTime and Whats App, some of your clients are just beginning to understand Skype. And many still think you need a Google Plus profile in order to make calls. So let’s start with the two biggest contenders: Skype and Google Hangout.

Skype vs Google Voice: The Great Debate

When it comes to the Skype vs Google Voice decision, everyone has a strong opinion, and their opinions reflect how –and for what purpose — they use the apps. Search Unified Communications created a handy chart, which compares the two providers. However, in the past year, there has been a mass exodus from Skype to Google Voice

Here is an overview from the Google Camp. These folks prefer Google Voice because:

  1. It does not devour your bandwidth. If you are working with temporary data stick, a single, long Skype call will eat your bandwidth.
  2. It does not discriminate against Linux users. You can use Skype with Linux, but you will need to update to Skype for Linux 4.3 before doing so.
  3. Google Voice offers free voicemail transcription.
  4. Skype requires a subscription. Google voice integrates with your Gmail account.
  5. For conferencing, Google offers Google Hangouts, which allow video conferencing for up to 10 participants. Skype only allows five users.
  6. Google Hangouts now feature integration with Uberconference, which allows Non-video participants call a number and get conferenced in with the video participants.
  7. Google Hangouts conferences can integrate with Google Docs.

On the other hand, if you freelance, you might find that some potential clients request will often suggest a Skype interview. Then, there’s your family members. If grandma has finally learned how to use Skype, you don’t want to suddenly change her way of doing things.

Bottom line. Be a flexible communicator, and sign up for both.

This post was penned by...

Lisa Marie Mercer

From the heart of New York City, to the hill towns of Italy, to the ski towns of Colorado, to the beach towns of coastal Uruguay, Lisa Marie Mercer has journeyed across the globe, often stopping to stay a few months or a few years. A widely-published writer, she covers topics such as travel, expat living, health and fitness, skiing, social media, Latin America and startup entrepreneurs.

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