This is another Blog of my occasional series looking at how key areas change by generation over the next three. Today I am looking at the challenges facing the digital generation (DGs).

The DGs are planning for a longer life than their parents and grandparents and anticipate multiple careers during an extended working life. Born into the consumer age they can expect, over this extended lifetime, to acquire many possessions while housing units are getting smaller and space is at a premium. Deciding what to keep and how to dispose of unnecessary possessions will be a continual challenge.

If you tour a DG home in 70 years time (as they reach retirement) much will have changed. Even today we can see the start of a new way of living that will continue to be refined and improved. Here are a few of the changes:

  • ‘Home telephones’ will no longer exist – why would you call a building?
  • Books on shelves will be almost entirely replaced by e-readers
  • Photos will be found on tablets and digital displays on the wall
  • Music will be streamed on demand – no CDs, albums or stereos – why would you want to own a stand alone non reusable storage device?
  • Films and TV series will be streamed rendering DVDs, hard disc recorders and Sky boxes redundant
  • Games will be streamed to our mobile devices and linked to the video display
  • Hi-Fi systems will become Bluetooth players with the signal being streamed via the internet.
  • There will still be radio – streamed via your smart phone

Central to every DG home is the high speed data network that connects everything in the home to everything else and the outside world. With no data storage devices the freed up space will be needed for the larger screens.

Central to DGs philosophy is the ‘circular economy’ – they view their possessions as ‘transitory’. Acquired as they are needed, kept for as long as required and then passed on – nothing is wasted. Items are passed on for re-use or recycling in the most efficient way possible. There will still be the momentos, collections and ‘prized possessions’ that make us individuals, but gone is the need to own and hold on to everything.

Today we are starting to see these practices emerge – e-Bay, Gum tree, car boot sales and the like are creating efficient markets whereby most items have an established second hand value. Items that are not re-used or have no value are taken to sophisticated Council recycling plants where they are and used as raw materials for new products.

Complementing the electronic marketplace is an increasingly sophisticated and highly efficient parcel delivery service offering the prospect of global fulfillment. With 60 years of continual improvement these processes will have been refined to the point where they extract every last penny of value.


The world is not there yet, but the evolutionary direction is clear….