A month or so ago, my 5-year-old son, Nate, came home from day care with a picture for me.

It was a large rectangle containing many small squares within. One square had a figure in a top hat, another had the letters “CN”—each square had its own identity.

I asked him what it was, in that delicate way you ask kids to explain their pictures, and he said, “Oh, that’s just your phone, Dada. See, that’s the Cat in the Hat app, and that’s the Cartoon Network app over there … .”

To him, my smart phone was just a phone, and a phone is just something to play video games on, or watch cartoons on, something that needs no ­explanation.

When I bought the phone six months ago, Nate walked right up to the display model and figured out how to play a game on it—even though he’d never used one before. And yet, it took me weeks to reckon how to reboot the damned thing.

There’s a phrase sneaking into our culture’s lexicon—digital native—that describes this divide between generations. To me, this little gadget is the height of technological achievement, and every time I talk to Siri, I feel like I’m living in the not-too-distant future. But to Nate, it’s not technology, it’s just another phone. It’s just what is.

All of which is to say that the way people consume media is rapidly changing. For apartment owners and managers, the successful marketing ploys of the past are now relics of a bygone era. To survive, to thrive, in this brave new world takes some reinvention, reimagining, reawakening.

And in that spirit, the publication you’re about to read is not your father’s multifamily executive. With this issue, we’re introducing a bold new redesign meant to compel, captivate, and delight. But the redesign isn’t just about colors and fonts, it also signals a change in editorial focus.

For instance, the sections have been renamed with verbs to suggest action and to better target our content—“Focus,” for example, addresses corporate business issues, while “Touch” looks at everything the resident touches, such as design and marketing.

And our new look isn’t just about how we group content. We’re also hoping to strike a different tone than we have in the past, to challenge conventional wisdom more often, and to make these pages a living, breathing conversation. Throughout its 17-year history, this magazine has selected its audience, and to a large degree, we’ve told you what you wanted to hear. Now, I’m hoping the audience will self-select and use these pages as a platform to debate and inspire.

Check out “Check In”, where we feature a few comments readers left on one of our websites—that’s just the tip of the iceberg. In the coming months, we’ll sift through our website, Facebook page, Twitter account, and LinkedIn discussion groups looking for similarly smart comments to bring into the magazine.

In other words, we’re looking to make you, the audience, part of the show.

So it was particularly satisfying when, one day in mid-September, as I was putting the finishing touches on some of these pages, Nate looked at the “Check In” section and tried pressing the screen to activate it.

“Hey, Dada, what website is this?”

“Oh, that’s just our magazine. See, that’s the business app, and the demographic app is over there … .”