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These Guys Want to Build a Utopia for Freelancers in the Canadian Woods

Sure, it’s crazy—but is it just crazy enough to work?

by Jordan Pearson
Sep 4 2014, 3:40pm

Image: Tammy Strobel/Flickr

Utopian fantasies and technophilia go together like 3D-printed chocolate and peanut butter.

Currently, Silicon Valley elites are fighting to create a new society on the high seas, and yuppies are travelling the world with iPads and calling themselves "digital nomads." Add to all that a few tiny mobile houses and a dash of anarcho-libertarianism and you've got the future of collective living, according to a group of young Canadian freelancers.

The basic idea, laid out in a manifesto released by Montreal-based "trend forecasting" group Logomachy, is this: technological unemployment is about to become a serious issue for society, and unstable freelance work is becoming the norm for young people living in cities. 

Thus, the sensible thing to do is for all the young, connected artsy types to pack up and leave their hellish apartments to live together in tiny houses in the woods, hippie commune-style. But, you know, with an internet connection, Macbooks, and freelance graphic design jobs.

"When somebody cooks for you, you just show up and eat. You don't even clean your plate. There's so much time to party, and make friends, and chat. Sharing work can give you so much free time," said Guillaume Dumas, a 28-year-old freelance ghost writer living in the Mile End district of Montreal and a member of Logomachy.

"How much stuff can you buy with one hundred people? You could have, like, a pool, crazy tools, farm groceries and raise fishes. The possibilities are unlimited," Dumas continued.

Part socialist collective, part 24/7 party, and part nucleus of precarious online capitalism, Logomachy's vision of the future is certainly an interesting one. It's crazy—but is it just crazy enough to work?

Well, crazy's one way to describe it, but considering there's as yet a fully-formed movement, you might also call it a long shot. It's exactly the kind of idea that could only come from the sort of people who can build a fancy website with exactly one PDF on it and call themselves trend forecasters.

The proposed barrier to entry to Logomachy's freelancer utopia is revealing in terms of who, exactly, they imagine living in these communities. Dumas estimates the cost of moving in at being anywhere from $20,000 down to around $7,000, if you get a crazy good deal on your previously-owned tiny house.

That's not to mention having the financial freedom to take the risk of ditching established infrastructure aside and move off into a far-flung digi-commune. One of their taglines is literally "Ready to ditch the 99 percent?" and it's not hard to see why.

"It's for an elite that will have the courage and motivation to do so. Don't go sell mass nomadism to Joe Average. I think it's a project of individual freedom," Dumas said. "It's you that chooses to withdraw from the rest of society. It's a bit like bitcoin; don't try to sell it, just use it, and it will happen."

And how soon, exactly, will this happen, if ever? So far, Logomachy has a website and a manifesto. Dumas told me that he expects a freelance techno-commune to exist within 10 years.

"I cannot see it being big, but the next ten years will be slightly different than it is right now. I think it's going to snowball. We need instigators for such a movement, and I'd be very down to join that kind of movement," Dumas said.