the rise of generation interactive

breeding a new consumer class


“This instrument can teach, it can illuminate; yes, and even it can inspire. But it can do so only to the extent that humans are determined to use it to those ends. Otherwise, it’s nothing but wires and lights in a box. There is a great and perhaps decisive battle to be fought against ignorance, intolerance and indifference. This weapon of television (the Internet) could be useful.” – Edward R. Murrow (the Internet added)



The purpose of this book is to investigate and discuss the premise that the current generation was constructed from early on to be consumers for a transitional marketplace.

As the economy shifted from analogue to digital, consumers had to be trained to accept, use and progress within a new economic model through changes in societal and economic patterns. During the course of this book those patterns will be discussed and displayed as a confluence of:

  • Marketplace manipulation
  • Abusive use of technologies
  • Lack of governance

In this book we will discuss how those events are reflected in the habits and lifestyles of the current 12 to 25 year old demographic globally and how it has caused them to be the consummate consumer of digital goods and show the events that have been created to develop them to be consumers and to be consumed. One of the first points that will be discussed is, was this the fault of parenting? In my opinion – no, it was more so the position families were placed in and how they best could survive. When this many events come into place and seemingly conspire to force families to re-invent themselves it is not so much the fault of the “herd” but the result of the “rancher”.

But why is this important to anyone and what gives me the right to discuss this?


To answer those questions we need to look at the following to see if they are true and have they occurred naturally through a free market system or were they manipulated to intertwine and work together to the deficit of society – specifically the current 12 to 25 year olds?

  • Have markets been manipulated today more than ever?
  • What is the new economy and is growth totally “digital”?
  • Has there been any effort to stop these illegal events?

To answer these questions we need to ask more such as: has the price of the housing market been manipulated to create the two-income family as a necessity? Has the basis of the economy shifted to a “digital marketplace”? Has there been any manipulation of laws to allow this to happen?

Most free market pricing is based on supply and demand. The only time the population of the United States grew substantially has been during the “Baby Boom” era. But even then housing prices were affordable and a one-income family was sufficient. What happened and why?

In developed nations globally – the new economic models are being driven by the consumption of a digital product base from a younger and younger age group – is this really true? Well ask yourself if you believe adults age 25 and over consume as much digital product as that 12-25 demographic – and even younger ones?

Why were laws like “Glass-Steagall” overturned right before a huge housing market crash?

“This repeal was arguably one of the largest deregulation bills of the financial services industry in U.S. history.  Essentially, it reversed Glass Steagall and allowed members of the financial services industry to enter each others’ businesses.”

And why has Net Neutrality – the ownership of the Internet – become such a “hot potato”?

Have other developed countries allowed their next generation to become prey to this new economy?


Why me?

Who am I that I have a perspective on this phenomenon? For the last 30 years I have been – as a designer/developer and teacher involved in the evolution of interaction design. In the 1980’s I was a distant part of the team that created some of the first CD-ROMs used in educational publishing. Over that time I received a Masters in Multimedia Design and have worked on some of the most well known corporate endeavors into this space. I have also taught this discipline (full time) at the college level for 28 of those years and I believe to be personally responsible for many careers that have designed and developed products that you use everyday from shopping online to reviewing your healthcare status. This new economy is dependent on a sophisticated user. As Jef Raskin (Apple developer) said, “As far as the customer is concerned, the interface is the product.”

Why is it important to understand what and how it happened?

Well first of all, it directly affects our children and usually nothing is more important to our lives than them. Secondly, it is about their futures and as citizens that should be our main concern even if we have no children of our own.

But what are we talking about here? The focus is on their well being and futures and how possibly an opportunistic or required change in economies desperately needed a new consumer.

Have those changes come together in a “perfect storm” by chance? My belief is that they were constructed to become a “perfect storm” and not just an opportunity to be grabbed. I believe in Ockham’s Razor it states that, “among competing hypotheses, the one with the fewest assumptions should be selected.”

What are the pieces of this “perfect storm”?

For the first time in the history of this country housing prices responded far further than market demand. And in response to that surge in prices a two-income family was necessary. Even during the baby boom marketplace housing prices were affordable enough to maintain a one-income family structure. Now since 1980 it was deemed a luxury for the family to have just one income, thus allowing for a non-traditional process for child rearing. We will also discuss how that has been compensated for in other developed nations via maternity leave, healthcare, vacation time, etc. Was this market manipulation made possible by the repeal of the Glass-Steagall act – a law that prohibited the banks and investment companies from merging funds?

At the same time during the 1980’s the rise of the home entertainment, game console and personal computers occurred – a venture with great possibly positive outcomes, but used primarily by many as indoctrination to habits. Habits that at the same time coupled with a lack of supervision contributed to a dramatic rise in obesity (sugar based diet) and a diagnosis of ADD and ADHD.

During and prior to this “perfect storm” housing prices became the target of many scrupulous groups – not our traditional criminal types arguably – but what was our governing body. And the battle over the ownership of the delivery vehicle – the Internet known as “Net Neutrality” has been fought and lost.

In discussion with people while writing this book some discounted the concept of a “conspiracy-like” happening. Well let’s use a simple definition –

Simple Definition of conspiracy

: a secret plan made by two or more people to do something that is harmful or illegal

: the act of secretly planning to do something that is harmful or illegal

So let’s ask the question, does what happened in the 1980’s and recently in 2000’s fit that definition? To answer that question we will review the research on the timing of the repealing of the Glass-Steagall act and articles on the “Keating 5” and “The Big Short” provided later in this book.

How did this “perfect storm” create a new economy? How did it affect our educational and societal models? How did all of these ripples affect our children – physically, mentally, socially and educationally – specifically the lack of technology in the classroom and how the children of “generation interactive or gen-i” became frustrated with traditional teaching methods and practices to the point of intolerance and malaise? How much of this is the fault of educators and the educational system?

Right or wrong you need to speak to the student’s experience-

“If we teach today’s students as we taught yesterday’s, we rob them of tomorrow.” ― John Dewey

Are we – as “digital immigrants” – not speaking to these students in their – “digital native” – language and therefore are we causing the conversation to be one-sided.

This is just one line item in a much bigger list of issues but one that can be remedied. Have they been pre-programmed to respond only to certain stimuli? Are we not fluent enough in that language thus creating too much distance between the generations? Did we have enough time to assimilate these changes or has the speed been too fast and too short of a time?

So they tune out the same way many in the majority age group and ethnicity tune out when Selma Hayek or Javier Bardem accepts an award and speaks in fluent Spanish. We nod and say isn’t he or she beautiful and never care to understand what she is saying. They just nod and think about something else – usually with no response.

A fellow educator and I had the same analogy – strangely at different times – we both said it is like bringing them to an exotic food store but not explaining how nutrition works and allowing them to just eat whatever they want. We are feeding them but allowing them to just grab whatever it is they want. We need to learn the store, but it is much more difficult than usual because they already know the store and our ignorance invalidates our credibility to govern their choices. So in avoiding learning the store we give an even greater validity to our lack of credibility.

Also I am a parent to two children who fit snuggly into that 12-25 year old demographic. So I have witnessed this from the outside and the inside while always trying to do good work while balancing the possibility of addiction and demise of current qualities of life as best I could with my dual responsibilities.

And has the battle over Net Neutrality occurred primarily to control the delivery vehicle for this new digital marketplace?

In this book I will be presenting facts and trying to use those facts to create a scenario that lead to this new “veal” generation.

Why is the “how” important – well so obviously we can be vigilant to stop it from progressing further. And to also know what predatory practices like the late night educational infomercial remedies are real or bullshit. How many learning center or educational product commercials have you seen to help Johnny or Lexi learn to read or do math better? How many proposed plans for better educational initiatives have you read about or voted on at your school board? But yet nothing seems to work. Common Core initiatives – yikes – will go on for years and years, ruining generation after generation as the ed. tech pirates sweep in and pillage the district.

The goal here is to try and see how this happened? What are the signals and routes to stop it and to turn it all around?

Why “veal”?

Many of my friends, colleagues and family hate that I have named this book – “veal”. They have asked me to change it because they find the analogy rude and offensive. Good – now that I have your attention let’s talk it out. I have been in advertising since 1976 and one thing I learned if you want to cut through the clutter and get to the core of your message – keep it simple and minimal – and one word usually does that. Jerry Della-Famina (a very famous adman from the 1960s and on) has a story of when a Jewish cemetery group wanted a new campaign. Supposedly when the presentation day came around he unveiled his new slogan for them – “Plotz!” In Yiddish it means to drop dead instantly. I don’t think he got the account but he did get their attention.

Quickly gaining your attention was one of the first goals but also it is to establish again who is who?

Obviously the “veal” is the new generation of consumers. And the “herd” is the society from where it was conceived originally. But the one part that seems to keep getting misunderstood is the “rancher”. Who is the entity that is controlling this process – the “rancher”? Well in most cases the “ranchers” – the CEOs – are the ones making the immediate decisions based on the “marketplace” that they also create based on profits. So to that end the “rancher” directly responds to and progresses the agendas of the three forces outlined before in the forward.

  • The marketplace manipulators
  • The abusive technologists
  • The governing and societal body

Now did they work in perfect concert? Who knows but when this many things come together seamlessly one has to question. We can’t get clean water to certain parts of this country but somehow all of this happened by sheer chance? Getting your attention and bringing us out of the haze of the Kardashians and Reality Television is part of the goal. Getting you to take a step back and ask, “what is actually going on here?” that is the goal of the title, and hopefully that will be substantiated throughout the book.

So why pick the name “veal”? Why use the term “veal”? Because veal by definition is: a young cow that has been purposely raised in a manner to create a specific end product. The calf had many other outcomes but the rancher purposely engaged a process for a specific result. Just to be clear here again – the “rancher” is not the parents it is the CEOs responding to the societal governing body that allowed this to happen through the confluence of laws and practices. The parents are the older cattle (which created the calf), they are responsible to a level but you can’t blame someone for not tap dancing well when you keep tying their shoelaces together.