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Is The Bedouin Worker Killing The Third Place?

Is The Bedouin Worker Killing The Third Place?
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Bedouin WorkerThe rise of the Bedouin Worker fueled by easy WiFi could be changing our view on the Third Place. In fact, they could be killing what we see as the Third Place and turning the cafe back to the Second Place. Go to a Starbucks or another cafe and its full of the creative class tapping away on their laptops. The only discussion being made seems to be on the phone with people in other cafes.

Piers Fawkes, PSFK
  • 27 april 2007

Starbucks vision behind the Third Place was to create a space between the home and the office which offered the sort of environment that had always been cherished in the best coffee houses through the years – a place to meet, to read, to debate and discuss, to be on your own. As Starbucks built their chain, independent cafes popped up to offer alternative takes on basically the same principles. (Watch this video from the PSFK Conference where George Murphy discusses the development of the Third Place concept).

Around the world we all started hanging more in cafes. But maybe that’s not going to last. Have you tried to sit in a cafe recently? You can’t there are hardly any seats and, certainly, no table space left!

The rise of the Bedouin Worker fueled by easy WiFi could be changing our view on the Third Place. In fact, they could be killing what we see as the Third Place and turning the cafe back to the Second Place. Go to a Starbucks or another cafe and its full of the creative class tapping away on their laptops. The only discussion being made seems to be on the phone with people in other cafes.

When we first held Likemind at sNice, we had so many people turn up I apologized to the owner, Mike, about taking over the place. Mike replied by saying that he was glad people had come in for a couple of hours to use the place as a cafe – not as their office. If the regular laptop users were miffed, he didn’t care.

The Bedouin Worker has so taken over his cafe that Mike now vigilantly restricts laptop use to two long tables at the weekend. Pull out a laptop at a 2-top on a Saturday and you’re out!

Maybe it’s time that Starbucks saves its Third Place. Instead of developing different brands offering basically the same thing (which will be inundated by the laptopers), maybe they should offer a modern version of the Second Place to keep the Bedouin Workers and the cafe dwellers happy and apart.

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