Digital Nomadland, the failure of the technology village

A Portuguese island created Digital Nomadland, a village for remote workers and the promise of a thriving community. However, none of the promised claims could be fulfilled. Undulating hillsides, with banana trees, palm trees and pine trees, open up behind the houses scattered on the hills. A picturesque church, the parish of Ponta do Sol is surrounded by lush subtropical scenery.

Located on the south coast of Madeira, Ponta do Sol is the main island of the Portuguese archipelago of the same name. The place had become the site for remote work, in addition to being the regional capital of Madeira, Funchal, which was to host a conference on this form of work. Digital nomads are looking for the “good life” or “being happy and making millions”. Many of those arriving in Portugal have been touring different cities around the world, particularly in Asia. Many travel to places such as Malaysia, Bali, Thailand and Vietnam before returning to Europe.

Digital Nomadland aims at the digital nomad lifestyle, where remote work is paramount. Madeira was selected for the low cost of living, internet speeds, beauty to showcase on Instagram and beaches to sail. Here we are facing the marketing pillars of digital nomadic life. The first point, of this community, had begun in rural Spain. This project aimed to avoid the bustling urban centers that had been experienced so far.

Working at Digital Nomadland

The spots that are chosen by digital nomad communities are often bubbles for wealthy foreigners. With many “white” people clustering in coffee shops and co-working spaces. In addition to other businesses that aim to satisfy your needs and comfort. When Madeira was thought of, the first intention was that remote itinerant workers could live like the locals. This is how the presentation to the Portuguese local government was decided.

At the time, everything went very smoothly. Covid-19 had plummeted tourism in the archipelago. This had caused inconvenience to the nomadic community, which seemed to find a first solution. High-income professionals found it possible to invest their money in local businesses. Thus, the site became an incubator for regional projects.

In search of a new world

The “experiment”, which seemed to be aimed at tourism, was a mixture of future labor with selective immigration. The project got off to an encouraging start, partly due to the enthusiasm generated in mainland Portugal. There was a certain irony in what was happening; while the pandemic had closed borders, financial incentives were created to open them.

February 2021 saw the official launch of Digital Nomadland with a handful of inaugural residents. One year later, in February of this year, there were already some 200 remote workers from all over the world. This initiative is not a physical village, it is more of a marketing and virtual infrastructure argument that enables interaction with other remote workers. The village, with its locals, and these nomads, are often completely separate in social and cultural matters and interests.

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