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The End of Telecommuting? 

Mention telecommuting, "lone eagles," "modem cowboys" or however you want to define the 1990s trend of not showing up at a central office every day, and the first example of the breed is writers. There may be others (software developers, investment advisors), but writing is presumably something you can do from anywhere.

So why is David Bradley moving the entire Atlantic magazine to Washington, DC?

The real purpose, Mr. Bradley said, is to create a "talent destination" -— a critical mass of editors and writers in one place, to help draw others. He aspires, he explained, to create an atmosphere in which ideas and staff can flow between The Atlantic and his other publications.

Hmmm. We could hope Bradley is lying, that this is a cover for his plan to turn a great American magazine into another dull DC journal. Or we could hope he's mistaken, that he doesn’t grasp this concept that's so ingrained in our culture it made the cover of Time Magazine ten years ago. Or we could wonder if the freelancer model is not all it's cracked up to be.

How many of those "investment advisors" were just day traders, broken by the dot-com crash? How many of those software developers have since seen their jobs migrate even farther from the home office, to India? How many of those writers could have written "better" if surrounded not by scenery but other writers? (And I'm not sure what I mean by "better": More lucratively? In a more idea-saturated way? Trendier? One thing I don't mean is: in a more personally fulfilling way.)

Or is this just a pendulum that swings back and forth, with Bradley's move signifying a coming rural re-de-population?

Freelance professionals, I'd love to hear what you think. Join the discussion at
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/johnclaytonoutreach/, or let me know your thoughts via info at johnclaytonbooks followed by dot-com.

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