It must be the current downturn that has more and more tech experts thinking "what if?" - as in "What if I took my laptop and set out to find work anywhere and everywhere?" A month ago we linked to an article about the "digital nomad" trend; now tech journalist Mike Elgan is adding his thoughts, both in Computerworld and a YouTube interview he did for the Ideas Project, a Nokia-sponsored digital roundtable about mobile computing and communications trends.

Jumping AnywhereThe dream:

Sell the house and the car. Put up all your possessions on eBay. Pack your bags and buy a one-way ticket to some exotic location. The plan? Telecommute from wherever you happen to be. Earn an American salary, but pay Third-World prices for food and shelter.

The digital nomad, location-independent lifestyle once seemed so impossible, exotic and unlikely that only a few people dared even attempt it. But now, a lot more people are doing it, and it seems like everyone else would like to. Could it be? Is the digital nomad lifestyle about to go "mainstream"?

Elgan notes that trends such as falling electronics prices, lots of available bandwidth, and the globalized economy are encouraging such dreams, but so is the new and interesting fact that many of the tools a digital nomad would use - such as Google Voice, online apps, videoconferenceing, and social networking for business - are already used by lots of people who don't travel. So, a digital nomad will soon no longer be seen as some kind of exotic breed.

When finding a new contract or job seems impossible, it's hard to resist dreaming along these lines.

-- Don Willmott