Chris Yurista is a Washington, DC, resident who lives out of a backpack while earning a significant income at his full-time job as a travel agent. He claims digital technology has replaced the need for his home and his possessions.
We tend to think of people who live out of a backpack and have no fixed address as homeless vagrants, often impoverished. Chris Yurista will claim the opposite. He still maintains his full-time employment and, since he now spends less on physical goods, he has more money in the bank than ever before.
"It's always nice to have a personal sense of home, but that aside - the internet has replaced my need for an address," the 27-year-old said. Since boxing up his physical possessions and getting rid of his home, Mr. Yurista has taken to the streets with a backpack full of designer clothing, a laptop, an external hard drive, a small piano keyboard and a bicycle - an armful of goods that totals a little over $3,000 in value.
Yurista has now replaced his bed with friends' couches, paper bills with online banking, and a record collection containing nearly 2,000 albums with an external hard drive with DJ software and nearly 13,000 MP3s.
Kelly Sutton, a 22-year-old software engineer, is the founder of CultofLess.com, a website which has helped him sell or give away his possessions - apart from his laptop, an iPad, an Amazon Kindle, two external hard drives, a "few" articles of clothing and bed sheets for a mattress that was left in his newly rented apartment. Sutton even maintains a list of everything he still owns (which isn't much) and everything that he used to own but has since sold (a much longer list) at http://cultofless.com/items
Sutton says he got rid of much of his clutter because he felt the ever-increasing number of available digital goods have provided adequate replacements for his former physical possessions.
Sutton credits his external hard drives and online services like iTunes, Hulu, Flickr, Facebook, Skype, and Google Maps for allowing him to lead a minimalist life. "I think the shift to all digital formats in all methods and forms of media consumption is inevitable and coming very quickly," said Mr. Sutton.
Many others may also be downsizing, although perhaps not as radically as Chris Yurista and Kelly Sutton. Consumer electronic book sales tripled between 2008 and 2009 while the growth of physical book sales slowed, according to the Association of American Publishers. Meanwhile, compact disc sales have declined by roughly 50% from their 2005 levels worldwide while global revenue from digital music has nearly quadrupled in the same period, according to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry.
Who needs physical books, records, or CDs? For that matter, who needs checkbooks when we have online banking? Who needs newspapers when we have news services on the Web?
You can read more about these people and several others on the BBC web site at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-10928032