48 Items That Technology Will Replace This Decade

This month everyone in the tech community and beyond is trying to predict what will happen in the coming year. As a different exercise I wanted to take a look at what will no longer exist when this decade concludes.

I’ve taken my best stab, some more outlandish than others. These changes hold implications for commerce and marketing. See list and video below.

1. Wrist watches: Sure, some will still wear them for fashion or swimming, but ask a Gen Y or Z crowd to raise their hand if they aren’t wearing a wristwatch and you will see many naked wrists in the air.

2. Paperbacks: I still love a good book in my hands, but more and more I find myself cheating on my first love with my new love – Ms. Kindle.

3. Traditional homework: With offerings like Khan Academy and MITx, more and more teachers are assigning watching a lecture or lesson on YouTube as the homework and then doing the “traditional homework” in the classroom with the help of the instructor and peers. Being able to watch the best in the world deliver a lecture on a topic is a much better way to learn when you combine it with in-class practice. I wish this was around when I went to school – break out the popcorn!

4. Newspapers

5. Car keys

6. College backpacks: Imagine how nice it will be just to carry around a tablet with all your textbooks accessible in the cloud. And they won’t cost $150 either. Also, you will be able to see the notes of all the other A+ students from around the world rather than praying that the used book you just purchased was from the next Einstein rather than the next Stoner. The books will be auto-updated as well.

7. DVDs

8. Instruction manuals: Replaced by much easier to comprehend “How to” videos.

9. Corked wine: Screw tops are better technology, but not quite as romantic.

10. Offline voting: No more “hanging chads” and imagine the percentage of voter increase when you can do it with a click of a button from your house. Even better, the results will be real time.

11. Cash: Mobile phones become transactional.

12. Desktop computers

13. Paper shredder

14. Post office: We are already seeing a record number of Post Office closings across the United States. Take advantage now and send someone a handwritten note (watch the hand cramps).

15. 2D: And we thought high-definition was cool.

16. Boring airplanes: With Wi-Fi standard on every plane soon, in the future we may not want to disembark!

17. Paper resumes: Hello LinkedIn and online reputation management.

18. Blind dates: Sad, but true. With so much information out there and friends of friends, the truly blind date will cease to exist. #adiosakwardmoments

19. Broadcast TV: As discussed in “Socialnomics” everything will eventually be streamed – it’s simply better technology.

20. Education inequality: With tools like YouTube for Schools and Khan Academy everyone will have access to great educational content. Everyone, that is, who has access to the Internet. The hope is that with increases in Wi-Fi availability and decreases in hardware costs on tablets and smartphones that this becomes a reality.

21. Clipping coupons: With the success of Travelzoo Local, Groupon, Living Social, and others, most coupons are becoming digital.

22. Hotel Internet fees: Hopefully we can all wave bye-bye to the $14.95 Internet fees at hotels, just like we no longer use the hotel phone for long distance calls.

23. Checkbooks: Online banking and PayPal.

24. Face-to-face: Sad, but true. We have less interpersonal communication than in years past.

25. Credit cards: Dealing direct with iTunes, Amazon, etc. and using your mobile device saves everyone money…except Visa, MasterCard, Discover, and American Express.

26. MTV: Actually that died already. Anyone wanting to launch their music career in “Lady Gaga” or “Justin Bieber” fashion knows YouTube is the key.

27. Alarm clocks: Replaced by smartphones.

28. Terrestrial radio: Replaced by satellite radio.

29. Greeting cards: If the post office is gone and we’re all trying to be green we all may get an e-card in the years to come.

30. Big box stores (like Best Buy): If the best reviews and ratings are online as well as the cheapest prices, why deal with all the hassles of going to the store to pay more? Similar to Blockbuster stores going away.

31. Gossip: Actually this will still exist, we’ll just type it.

32. Tollbooth operators

33. Leaders: Well, future leaders will need new digital leadership skills starting today and in the digital decades ahead.

34. Channel surfing

35. Movie timetables by phone: Remember having to sit through all the recorded times (great Seinfeld episode on this too, BTW) to get the movie time you wanted. #painful #alwaysthelastonelisted

36. Armored cars: See cash, above.

37. Airline gate agents

38. Mail order catalogs

39. Expert movie critics: Would you rather trust 4,573 reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, Yelp, or Yahoo or two talking heads who have no idea what your tastes are? There is safety in numbers my friends. #itssimplemath

40. 411

41. Gas stations: OK, this is more of a dream ☺

42. Smartless phones

43. Memo pads

44. Classrooms: Study at home will now be for the cool kids rather than the outcasts.

45. Paper maps

46. Texting in the car: Well, at least it will hopefully be illegal when you are driving. Studies have shown texting while driving is more dangerous than drinking and driving.

47. Computer mouse

48. Privacy: All these benefits do come at a cost. As Scott Monty of Ford says: “We will all have our 15 minutes of privacy.”

Research for my new book “Digital Leader” spurred this thought and video. While I researched what skills and habits were needed to lead our best life in this hyper-connected Digital Decade (hint: simplify and fail fast, fail forward, fail better), I thought it would be fun to showcase just how quickly items can change. Do you agree with the video?

Related reading

Overhead view of a row of four business people interviewing a young male applicant.