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The rise of the anti-Internet cafe

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The rise of the anti-Internet cafe

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As flexible working as grown in recent years, the cafe has increasingly become a place to go and work.  Whether you base yourself in one for the majority of your day or pop in for meetings, the friendly and comfortable environs of your favourite cafe often provide a stark contrast to the office, or indeed the sometimes lonely existence of the home office.

Indeed, there have even been suggestions that the noise of a coffee shop is the ideal level of noise to foster creative thoughts.  Researchers found that the 70 decibels of noise found in your average cafe was ideal for coming up with new ideas.  The research prompted a business, known as Coffivity, which aims to bring the noise of the cafe to our desktops.

Of course, as with any movement, as soon as these things begin to grow in popularity, they prompt a backlash.  Just as many are choosing to frequent their favourite cafe to work, there are those who want these mobile workers to hop it.  They don’t want their cafes to be over-run by people with their heads illuminated by the glow from their laptop or smart phone.

The Social Rehab cafe in Singapore for instance offers people a discount if they leave their mobile device at the door upon entry.  The Faraday Cafe in Canada strives to take choice out of the equation altogether.  They have created a cafe such that it is impossible to get either a wi-fi signal, nor indeed a mobile phone signal at all.  The cafe is located in a temporary facility in the Chinatown Experiment pop-up space in Vancouver.

The name comes from the Faraday cage that inspired the design.  This mesh of conducting material is able to block any electronic signals from entering or exiting the building, thus rendering any attempts to access mobile Internet useless.

The aim of the cafe is to provide people with an environment where they can truly get away from the stresses and strains of modern life, and literally disconnect for a bit over a coffee.  Founder and artist Justin Thomas told Fast Company: “I wanted to design a space where you don’t have to tell someone to stop. The arrangement of the room and the materials allow people to effortlessly walk in and decide their own limits.”

Sadly, the cafe was only open for a short time over the summer.  Would something like this catch on on a more permanent basis do you think?  Is there sufficient demand for a disconnected cafe experience?

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