I was fortunate enough to attend the Guardian Changing Media Summit in London this week, a smorgasbord of brainpower applied to all kinds of digital stuff. I won't go into all the detail, suffice it to say that it was bloody brilliant and if you get the chance to attend next year, snap it up.
What it has left me with, apart from lots of good ideas on how to smarten up my PR act, is thinking about my own experience online - from when I first signed up to AOL in the early 1990's to today's broadband/ social networking/ YouTube delights - and how different things are, and will continue to be, for my daughters.
As Marian Salzman, the personification of cool, said in the closing address, there is a whole generation out there who will never have to sit by the phone to wait for a call. They will also never know a world without 24-hour telly (let alone having to be a slave to the schedule now that we have On Demand and Sky+), never experience the excitement we felt at the birth of Channel 4 and MTV, never need to write a letter to a friend or relative on the other side of the world (why deal with the hassle of buying a stamp when there's email, SMS, IM and VoIP to choose from?), never experience the joy of making the perfect mix tape with a cassette recorder and a crappy old analogue radio, and will never share my delight in 80's video games - Tetris and Super Mario being the glorious soundtrack to my teenage years.
Where we used to send off the demo tapes we made in our bedrooms by snail mail, posting the padded envelope with shaking fingers, they upload their vlog or whatever on YouTube, Bebo or MySpace and wait for their fans to IM. Where we cheated at exams by writing answers on our thighs in felt tip pen, they text a friend. Where our big excitement was going all the way to Manchester to party at the Hacienda (a whole hour on the train!), they can tap into parties anywhere in the world simply by going online.
The new generation is global in a way we never could be and so it follows that their outlook on life is nowhere near ours - when you marry the zeal of youth with the possibilities of the digital age, everything and anything is possible. We were hemmed in by geography, the expectation of a prescribed life and a limited view of what success looks like. They're not.
The Digital Dinosaurs versus the i-Generation; guess who will, and should, prevail? Virtual or not, our kids have the whole wide world at their fingertips. And how exciting (and kind of frightening) is that?