East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

The nomad barter list


I stumbled on a conversation, last night, in a forum for nomad workers.
In case you missed it, cybernomadism or nomad working are the names usually given to those that have a location independent job or cybercommute while traveling around.
I was a small-scale nomad worker in the first decade of the 21st century, when I moved between universities to peddle my post-grad and post-doc courses, while working via the web with various clients and colleagues.

Anyway, last night’s discussion was on the following: what skills can you trade on the road?
In other words, what knowledge would you be able to barter for food, lodging, services or what else.
And so I did myself a little list, and I think it is important – because too often people out there will judge and evaluate us based on our traditional day job, and come to the conclusion we are worthless, we “can’t do anything but…”
I was told no more than one year back that “you never worked with your hands, so you never really worked”.
Well, let’s make a list of what we can do, what we can offer in exchange for food and shelter, no matter where we are, in the most hi-tech place of the world or in the middle of nowhere.


Here’s my list:

I can cook
I can iron shirts and sew buttons
I’m good at cleaning and decluttering
I speak four languages (Italian, English, French and Spanish), and can barely get by in another two (Japanese, and currently working on my Dutch)
I can do translation work
I can teach (science, history, some literature, a little math, statistics and languages)
I can tell stories
I can write (stories, articles, copy, anything)
I can blog and podcast
I and an amateur photographer

Note that nothing of this comes down to my standard a BSc, three Masters and a PhD mantra. I am a geologist, a palaeontologist and, by accidents diverse, a writer. And a lot of other things.
You too.
And that lot of other things matters, and can save our life.
So go on, do a list – remind yourself, and maybe others, that you are not a CV or a five words qualification, but a person.
Do your list – it helps keeping depression and desperation away.
And might point in new directions in which to run should we need to escape.

Author: Davide Mana

Paleontologist. By day, researcher, teacher and ecological statistics guru. By night, pulp fantasy author-publisher, translator and blogger. In the spare time, Orientalist Anonymous, guerilla cook.

6 thoughts on “The nomad barter list

  1. I am good company and I will do chores without being asked. I also, for some reason, like digging holes so burying a body or two is no big deal.


  2. Pingback: Cosa sai fare? – ESCARTOUN

  3. So I’m guessing your Business Card reads:
    | I’m The Quiet Guy |
    | With a Bag of Lime and |
    | A Shovel in my Trunk |
    |________________ |



  4. Hmmmm, so much for my formatting skills.


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