Extended Forecast

It is the nature of teenagers
to rebel against their parents.
What will e-journalism look like 20 years from now?


I sometimes muse over how our children will view technology.

Ours is the generation of Facebook. Cell phones and iPods made their appearance on the teen scene about the time we were in high school. Now, as young men and women, we're pioneering texting, Twitter, Google News and MySpace and we're among the first twentysomethings to have (through the Web) a grand total of all information at our disposal.

As our technology increases---think how few of our parents had cellulars as recently as 1993---who can imagine what communication will look like a few decades from now?

Yet if electronic connectedness becomes a mark of our generation (perhaps like disco in the '70s or I Love Lucy earlier), and if teenagers naturally tend to shy away from whatever their parents find cool, is it possible that young folk around 2020 or 2030 will want a bit less technology and a bit more personal, face-to-face interaction than we do? Will they develop a suspicion of cell phones to mirror the excitement with which we've embraced them?

Of course, teens may continue to embrace technology like our generation has and dive even deeper into quick communication than anyone our age ever thought possible, which could lead to e-revolutions even more exciting than we've seen in our time. Our grandparents wrote letters; we're writing Twitters. What will our grandkids write?

But let's consider the possibility that the young folks of tomorrow reinvent communications like we have and want something other than the online newsprint of their grandparents (that is, us) for getting information. In this case, there are two options: either we'll see a step back, perhaps toward hard-copy newspapers, or (more likely) we'll see a step sideways to some new electronic medium we can't use yet (like holography) or haven't invented.

Will there be a teen technological counterrevolution when we're 45? Will Web journalism, now the wave of the future, stay the wave of the future that long? Will our electronic lifestyle get more and more electronic, or will we reach a threshold?

I pledge on my honor that I have not given or received any unauthorized assistance on this examination.

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