Talking about his generation: you too can be a bad futurist

The X or Y posts (Gen X or Y?, On being X-ish) reminded me of something I wrote about my son, who was born in 2010, not long before he was born:

I was looking at one of those “the kids of today” lists and thinking about V. What will the world of the 2010 baby look like? I came up with:

  • September 11 will be something that happened when his parents were young, roughly equivalent to the Vietnam War for me, a bit nearer than the moon landing or Harold Holt drowning
  • in fact by the time he’s a teenager everyone or nearly everyone who walked on the moon will have died
  • he may not ever learn to read a paper map or street directory unless he gets heavily into bushwalking or something
  • by the time he’s grown up, I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s really unusual to own many paper books, perhaps as uncommon as people my age who own vinyl (yeah, I do know a few, but…)
  • there will be a few veterans of WWII and people who experienced the Holocaust (other than as little babies) around in his childhood and even teens, but they’ll be like I remember WWI veterans: very elderly

If anyone wants to play: can you come up with things that aren’t true of children born in 2000, say? Things like “your parents have always had mobile phones” are going to be true of children 10 or even 15 years older than V will be. (Of my list, the paper map stuff probably fails that test, so might the WWII stuff.)

I’m a terrible futurist, that already reads badly to me. For example, I didn’t own a GPS device at the time: that’s why I thought that bushwalking would rely on paper maps in 2030. (Since they don’t run out of charge, presumably they’ll be useful as backups for a long time, at least for the type of folks who are wary enough to take backup maps anywhere.)

But the question stands: there’s a lot of difference already between me and someone born in, say, 1995. But what’s the difference between that child’s life, and that of my son born in 2010?

3 Replies to “Talking about his generation: you too can be a bad futurist”

  1. I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently. I had an interesting conversation with the daughter of a friend who couldn’t understand why dad said “Let’s tape that show”. She asked “What’s tape?” So I suspect digital media – Blue Ray, DVDs, CDs, perhaps even USB sticks and the like will be ancient technology to your son. People will either store everything in phone-like things or in the cloud. The concept of storage limits will also probably be meaningless too.

  2. Autogoogling led me here but oddly enough this thought “in fact by the time he’s a teenager everyone or nearly everyone who walked on the moon will have died” was one that occurred to me only a few hours ago. Weird psychic connection, or what?

  3. John Quiggin: I can only conclude that people blogging about you have the power to plant thoughts in your mind. Probably best that that was discovered in a backwater vanity blog!

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