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Rethinking the Social Infrastructures of

Community-based spaces (Co-spaces)

2018 - present


Supervised by

Prof. Austin Toombs

CCILAB, Purdue University

My role:

HCI  researcher

Research methodologies:

online form data analysis, interview

Project Description

The rise of co-working and co-living spaces, as well as related shared spaces such as makerspaces and hackerspaces—a group we refer to as various types of “co-spaces”—has helped facilitate a parallel expansion of the “digital nomad (DN)” lifestyle. Digital nomads, colloquially, are those individuals that leverage digital infrastructures and sociotechnical systems to live location-independent lives. In this paper, we use Oldenburg’s framework of a first (home), second (work), and third (social) place as an analytical lens to investigate how digital nomads understand the affordance of these different types of spaces. We present an analysis of posts and comments on the ‘/r/digitalnomad’ subreddit, a vibrant online community where DNs ask questions and share advice about the different types of places and amenities that are necessary to pursue their digital nomad lifestyle. We found that places are often assessed positively or negatively relative to one primary characteristic: either they provide a means for nomads to maintain a clear separation between the social and professional aspects of their lives, or they provide a means to merge these aspects together. With these results, we demonstrate how DNs’ interests in co-spaces provide a kind of edge-case for CSCW and HCI scholars to explore how sociotechnical systems, such as variants of co-spaces, inform one another as well as signify important details regarding new ways of living and engaging with technology.


Research Aim

  • Explore how do digital nomads define spaces differently for living, working, and socially interacting with others? 

  • Examine the current tensions in a co-space (e.g., co-living/co-working spaces)

  • Discover opportunity spaces for the design of technologies interventions in a co-space


  • Lee, A., Toombs, A. L., Erickson, I., Nemer, D., Ho, Y. S., Jo, E., & Guo, Z. (2019). The social infrastructure of co-spaces: home, work, and sociable places for digital nomads. Proceedings of the ACM on Human-Computer Interaction, 3(CSCW), 1-23. DOI: 10.1145/3359244

  • Lee, A., Toombs, A. L., & Erickson, I. (2019, May). Infrastructure vs. community: Co-spaces confront digital nomads' paradoxical needs. In Extended Abstracts of the 2019 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (pp. 1-6). DOI: 10.1145/3290607.3313064

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