So, I don’t have much to show from three months of living in Israel (September to December 2010), apart from a heap of fantastic memories and that kind of intangible life experience that only makes itself known and becomes more concrete over time. The one solid thing I did manage to do was launch a new blog project. It’s called “A Beach with Wifi”.

Why a beach with wifi?

The project is a spin-off from my book, Monkeys with Typewriters. It looks at one potential outcome of using social tools at work: how being fully connected to your colleagues, clients and projects virtually can permit you to be extremely remote from them physically.

A Beach with Wifi is an interactive, organic work in progress – and an ongoing discussion. I’d like to know if this type of remote working is genuinely desirable and realistically achievable. I presume it is, especially in many of today’s knowledge-based businesses (others, I’m sure, would beg to differ)!

If you’ve any stories about attempting this sort of remote working for yourself, any reasons why you think it shouldn’t work, or simply any great wifi cafes to add to the Beaches with Wifi map, please let me know.

How we got there

The photo shows me on Alma Beach, which is just five minutes from the apartment where we lived in Noga. The Japanese style bridge behind me (you can see it better in the original here) is a well-known landmark. It’s the point where Jewish Tel Aviv becomes (mainly) Arab Jaffa. And that’s where we were based – at the crossroads of two very different worlds and cultures.

Our reasons for moving to Israel were threefold:

  1. Family – my partner’s dad is from Tel Aviv, and we’d always wanted to spend time there. Plus somewhere in my own family history I’ve a Jewish ancestor who was born in Jaffa.
  2. We’d just bought a house in the UK which needed serious work. We were unable to live there and the rent we were offered in downtown Tel Aviv happened to be a lot cheaper than Shepherds’ Bush!
  3. Our daughter was soon to start school in the UK. It was “now or never”.

Once we started thinking about it, we realised it would be impossible for both myself and Noam (partner) to work while we were out there. A key part of the whole experience was immersing Lila in a big chunk of her cultural heritage: it seemed daft to hand that responsibility over to a stranger.

Time out

So, Lila and I spent our days building sandcastles, learning to swim, painting, drawing, putting together a scrapbook, catching Egged Dan buses all over town, shopping at the markets, visiting museums, meeting the locals, picking up some Hebrew and a little bit of Arabic, and (of course) hooking up with all that family.

Three months out with a giggly, imaginative four year old who talks 20 to the dozen and needs someone to listen is precious. I’m super-grateful to have been able to do it.

Meanwhile, the seed of the idea of A Beach with Wifi was born!

How GitHub makes working remotely not suck