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Why Mobile Technology Matters for the World’s Nomadic Peoples

An ancient way of life discovers newfound viability by drawing on surprisingly modern innovations.

Camels marked with painted brands, though no phone numbers. Image by Mark Hay

A few weeks back, in a passing conversation I heard a story about a strange innovation cooked up by some nomads in a far away country. Looking for a better way to identify their herds and locate them when they wander off, these folks had apparently decided to paint their phone numbers onto the side of their livestock in lieu of abstract brands. To date, I’ve been unable to substantiate this tale (although I wouldn’t be surprised if it were true, as I’ve seen such painted-on characters used as quasi-brands at camel markets in East Africa in the recent past). But even if it is apocryphal, the story is far from absurd. It speaks to a real and verifiable revolution in the world’s nomadic traditions, fueled by the proliferation of cheap communications technology. These simple devices are rapidly conquering the challenges of modernity that have long chipped away at the viability of itinerant herding, laying the grounds for nomadism not just to survive into the new millennium, but to thrive—as few would have imagined—to the benefit of us all.

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Wandering Technomads Can Ditch Their Phones, Too

When living the location-independent life, a million little things can prevent permanent travelers from feeling truly carefree

Bryce Adams is a technomad in the strictest sense of the word. Case in point: when you want to arrange a Skype with him, you go to a page on his website which tells you where he currently is and how many hours ahead that is of your own timezone.

Bryce Adams, NomadSMS founder

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Yesterday on Twitter and Facebook, we asked our friends: What is good cell phone etiquette?

We pose a question to our Twitter and Facebook faithfuls once a day, so if you’re not yet a @GOOD follower or fan, make sure to sign up and participate in the conversation.

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Beijing cell phone users beware. The Chinese government will be tracking you through mobile use. According to the South China Morning Post this will give the government the ability to watch individuals and gatherings of large groups of people.

We ask a question to our Twitter and Facebook faithful once a day, so if you’re not yet following @GOOD or a fan, make sure to sign up and participate in the conversation.

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Lëkki: Vintage Phones with a Modern Twist

Lëkki sells the Motorola StarTAC 130 and the Nokia 3210, two of the most popular models from the 1990s, with new color schemes.

With the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show getting underway in Las Vegas, the media is focused on the gadgets of the future. Not so for the French company Lëkki. It's focused on updating the phones of the past.

Lëkki sells vintage second-hand cell phones—the Motorola StarTAC 130 and the Nokia 3210, two of the most popular models from the 1990s, renowned for their quality and design—but gives them a modern twist with bright new color schemes. The result is a custom phone with an intriguing retro aesthetic. Both are for sale through the Lëkki website. The Nokia model costs around $110 and the Motorola around $185.

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