How ‘Edge Cases’ Build Their Lives
Minaal Labs is a collection of projects, events, and collaborations that get our curiosity flowing and our hearts pumping. The first edition is ‘Movers & Makers’ - because when we talk about our users – and everyone else we encounter doing amazing things – we notice two distinct characteristics:
1) They’re Movers. Whether long-term digital nomads, corporate road warriors, or local hustlers bouncing around the city, movement is a fundamental part of their lives. Navigating that movement efficiently and productively is what enables their projects.
2) They’re Makers. It could be software, books, a business, an NGO, art, community, or anything in between. The people we’ve encountered are perpetually looking for ways they can improve the world, on scales both ambitious and humble.
We wanted to dig deeper – in a rigorous and expert-led way – into what makes these ‘edge cases’ tick. Through intensive in-person research sessions, we learned about how a group operating at the height of their potential manage to push the limits of travel, remote work, productivity, minimalism, and more.
TOPIC DEEP DIVES
LIFE ON THE MOVE
We talked to people who run small and large businesses, online and off; to people with demanding jobs, and people whose aim is to work as little as possible. We talked to idealists and operators; lone wolves and leaders of groups.
The connection between all of them? Lives full of movement, and an inescapable drive to make things.
Cool things, new things, renovated things, experiments, it doesn't matter – the point is to create value for the world.
The stereotype, especially of digital nomads, is of almost religious minimalism; of denying yourself possessions and pleasure in an attempt to escape the Durden Prophecy: “The things you own, end up owning you.”
Yet amongst our Movers & Makers, we found a much more nuanced belief structure – one that rejected mindless consumerism, for sure, but that also assigned high value to objects based on their usefulness.
As one interview subject said: “Minimalism isn't about having fewer things. It's about only having things that add positive velocity to your life.”
For Movers & Makers, their bag is their equivalent of a builder's toolbelt. The primary purpose of it isn't to do anything, it's to safely hold all kinds of valuable tools – and after that, get out of the way.
Film and TV sound recordists say that if anyone consciously notices the audio while watching the film, they haven't done their job properly. Similarly, our research subjects are focused not on their bags, but on their movements and projects – if they never even notice their bag, that just helps them stay in flow.
WHAT I PACK
We found huge variation in what people pack – and the same amount of variation in how they pack. For some, it's a borderline meditative experience; for others, a task to be checked off ASAP.
In either case, Movers & Makers prioritise packing and possessions as topics of deep thought, which helps them move that little bit faster, happier, and more productively every day.