Have you seen, lately, the introduction on many websites of “called out comments”, in the comments area under the articles?
Here’s an example. See the “called out comments” highlighted in yellow.
Calling something out is a universally good idea, and indispensable.
An author draws attention to the comments he finds most useful by calling them out, so they can be seen. The called out comments stack at the top so they are separated from among the otherwise relentless vastness of the tsunami-like environment of comments that can scroll to infinity, and to obscurity, beneath the called out comments.
The idea of calling something out, of course is elementary and familiar to every sentient being. It is, naturally, the way the mind works. As is commonly known, most of the sensory input from the environment revealed to the mind is necessarily ignored to allow the mind to focus on things of highest priority. It is easy to find amusing demonstrations of this, and most of the things in a magician’s bag of tricks rely on it.
But let’s look at “calling out” (narrowing focus) specifically with regard to the act of authoring. Elevating a comment on a web page to a “called out comment” is, conceptually, not unlike the idea of writing itself, or thinking itself.
We are all authors, and all of us are always immersed in the unfathomable deep. In this universe, we swim among all possible thoughts, all possible ideas, and all possible ways of writing about them. From within the totality of that environment, we select; an author “calls out” and claims the territory of what she is going to say. From the infinite, she makes a definition of the finite.
There is a direct corollary to this embodied in the act of “drawing“, as expressed in the usual way in any set of technical drawings, or construction drawings in the architecture, engineering, and construction industry, and in other technical and artistic industries engaged with visual communication media.
What is drawn?
There are two kinds of answers to this. At one level, what is drawn is whatever the author calls out and chooses to draw. From among all possible drawings, at all possible locations, of all possible things, an author chooses some things to draw; she calls them out and then she draws them.
There is another kind of answer though, related to the first: what is drawn when an author draws, is one’s attention. Our attention is drawn from the obscuring entirety of an environment, toward those specific things in the environment that we should look at, toward things that should be seen, understood, and toward what should be done.
We look. We see. We understand. Then we act. A set of drawings narrows down from the totality of an environment, to a set of intelligible instructions, drawing attention toward what we should do.
It is clear then that calling out and narrowing down, drawing attention, is universally indispensable. In software in service to the design and construction industry, however, over the first 20 years (some say nearly 30 years) since the general availability of 3D environmental modeling applications, the idea of calling out and drawing attention to an author’s primary directive visual communications (drawings), has remained a concept that has not been applied within the modeled environment, until 2012 when Bentley Systems applied it.
Some have said that this should have been done from the beginning 20 years ago; that it is essential, and elementary, or that it’s like taking the square wheels off the car and going about with round wheels for the first time (thank you Marek).
My hope is that this points to the beginning of something, a frontier for visual communication. A universally indispensable and elementary concept is applied in an environment that demands that we make our ideas clear, Good things should follow.
This is available and in-use commercially now. Construction drawings are automatically aligned and presented on-demand, aligned within the modeled environment, drawing a viewer’s attention toward things that should be seen and understood, toward the directive, authored, visual instructions that describe what one should do.
It is my hope that this represents the beginning of something, not by any means an end, but only the development in the common media of design and construction, of the concept of calling out and drawing-attention-toward. The first step we have taken is to draw attention toward the primary authored directive visual statements of the design and construction industry, and transformed them through aligned contextualization. Context is everything, at least as far as we know with regard to intelligible communication (I’m still drawn to this Jeff Jonas IBM commercial).
After this, where might we go next?