Using the ‘third space’

coffee shop the third space the third place
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As we look forward to 2014, the possibilities that surround us are vast and incredible. Much is written on technology — the outdated way of the past and the new way of doing business. We are no longer in the world of our parents but the world of our children. It is with them that we must bridge the new with the old.

Technology speeds along at exponentially increasing rates. Information streams roll over us like waterfalls. Do you intend to remain relevant? It is imperative that we harness that energy. The question is simple: Do we use it to our greatest benefit or drown in the rush of the torrent?

Not your father’s Oldsmobile

It is remarkable that we no longer have to trudge along physically like our forebears. A sign of a growing civilization is that with the right tools we can take our ease while still producing great ideas and greatness.

The tradition of spending 30 years at the same company is a thing of the past. According to the most recent available data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average worker today stays at each of his or her jobs for 4.4 years. For our youngest workers, the expected tenure is about half that, according to a recent article in Forbes.

Many people in the workforce jump from one thing to the next — hopefully climbing each time. Many are creating their own enterprise; their own opportunities. Because of the wonderful tools at their disposal, workers of any generation can work wherever they open their personal device. The U.S. Small Business Administration is of the opinion that a growing number of individuals over the age of 50 — or “encore entrepreneurs” — are turning to small business ownership.

Another option

But how does this work socially? Does it create a society of loners toiling away at their lonely dining room table or sitting alone in a coffee shop? Not at all. The connections are real and personal and as exponential as the technology itself.

The article New work order: From Google and Pixar to Innocent … the future of the office starts here, cites urban sociologist Ray Oldenburg, who conceived of our lives as being divided between home, work and the “third space” where we relax and build communities. Oldenburg conceived the idea in 1989, prior to the explosion of the Internet. It could be argued that Starbucks birthed an entire industry off the idea — long before Oldenburg.

The circulation of people and ideas in a permeable space between public and private is now becoming de rigueur in many venues. In New York City, for example, Lincoln Center offers The Atrium on Broadway between 62nd and 63rd Streets. The Atrium is primarily a ticketing place for Lincoln Center events, but the space is open to the public: high ceilings and light, food service, tables, free Wi-Fi, a media wall, restrooms and free entertainment. It is a busy gathering place for residents and visitors. The Atrium is only one of more than 500 Privately Owned Public Space (POPS) throughout the city.

These third spaces offer an amazing opportunity for WiseTribers and any generation to create or recreate. The “third space” has become a vital part of modern life. It fosters community and the exchange of ideas. As we move into our next phase of discovery, how can we use the technological tools at our disposal to expand our own personal community and also utilize the greater idea of shared space?


In 2013, Karen Clancy made the daring move to New York City at age 50 to share her creative talents with the Big Apple. Through writing, singing and piano-playing (and sparkling wit and conversation!), Karen is making her way in a new city and is a great example of going after one’s dream at 50. Her music can be heard in various venues in NYC and her writing can be found here on WiseTribe and on her blog. Connect with Karen on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram @klclancy.

Got other ideas about technology and society? Let us know! Check out our blog for more insights on how WiseTribers are working and playing in the new world. Join us to contribute your ideas!

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