Industry needs to begin to consider the general condition of the relationship of drawings to models..
The general condition is:
- A model is an environment
- A “drawing” draws one’s attention toward a location of accountable reliability, within an environment.
These two simple statements make very clear that, conceptually, drawings and models are inseparable from each other; one does not productively exist without the other. However in our common experience with drawings and models, they are separated from each other. This is worth consideration.
Drawings, as they have been known (for centuries), draw attention toward things within a proposed real environment (within the world as environment) while of course omitting that environment. Drawings omit the environment, and this omission is first among the techniques of drawing. Omission of the environment permits a narrowing down of attention and its focus. The result of the omission (of the environment) is a drawing in the abstract. What remains after omission of the environment is an author, a viewer, and a focused attention.
What then of the environment? What of the model as environment? Any of us familiar with the hours, weeks, and months invested in the creation of models understand very well the limitations of the idea that a model is to serve as a representation of the totality of an environment. First, the effort required for a modeling of totality is exhausting and seems, despite some partial exceptions, never quite reached. Those of us who have spent many years of a career in pursuit of reaching it know the limits of this thinking better than those who have not attempted it and have not encountered the practical limits, repeatedly.
However, let’s not let practical limits inhibit our thinking. Brushing aside practical limits, imagine that some soon available automation will make it possible to model total representations of an environment. What then? Will we then have arrived at the point we had been seeking? Where have we been trying to go? It is worth thinking about this in comparison to the conventional communication device of drawing. When drawing arrives at its destination what is found is an author, a viewer, and a focusing of attention.
These (author, viewer, and focus of attention) are tenacious to an extent that they are not going to fade away as the capacity for a totality of environmental modeling increases. That is to say, quite directly, that the idea that industry is in the midst of a transition away from drawing and toward modeling is an idea that is untenable conceptually, and therefore (and even by common observation) of little use practically. This does not mean, of course, that meaningful progress is not coming our way. It simply means that by looking closely at the terms in use (drawing and modeling), we can learn to ask better questions, and by doing so arrive at a better place.
Rather than moving away from drawings, and toward models, where we are going is toward an environment within which an author may draw attention toward things. This opens up rich possibility for the idea of environment, and the idea of what it means to draw (attention toward, within an environment). We are only just beginning.