To share a model

video and credits:

I agree with the others thanking Jared Banks for clarifying the discussion with his blog post here: .

I’d like to add something. The goal Jared describes – – “Social BIG BIM involves nD models that are shared with collaborators and clients, especially for life-cycle purposes.” – – still needs clarification to more clearly say what it means to share models.

To more clearly say what that is, it is worthwhile to reflect on those things that are most common to us. What is a model? (We are, after all, sharing it.) Along with that, what is a drawing? And what, then, is the distinction between a model and a drawing? The following tries to draw attention to that distinction:

People need the power to draw attention to things that should be seen, understood, and done. Environments by themselves don’t do that.

“Drawing attention” (toward something) is the very purpose and meaning of “drawing” – to draw one’s attention to things. How that is done, though, is changing. The way it has been done in the past is to:

  1. create a conventional set of drawings that are (it is important to see this) abstracted both from their simulated and real environment. While drawings, yes, are automated by software tools that yield drawings from models, the resultant drawings nevertheless stand alone, in abstraction, in the conventional way.
  2. A more recent notion that has become popular is to advocate that drawings will become unnecessary when modeling advances to a sufficient degree, because models will replace drawings.

The second of these is at best an overstatement. But it is more important to focus on what it is at its worst: a misunderstanding of the difference between an environment and the act of drawing attention to things in an environment. That idea, that models will replace drawings is counterproductive to the extent that it delays our understanding of what we need to do to move forward in an effective way.

The drawing of attention to things that must be seen, understood, and done, is indispensible. So the idea of replacing “the drawing of attention” with environments that do not draw attention, is an idea of course that has no traction. It goes nowhere. It doesn’t even propose going anywhere. It is an idea that offers nothing for consideration, and hardly qualifies therefore as an idea. Better to get some traction that could come from considering ideas that actually propose going somewhere, and then see where they go.

That a model, when shared, provides no means of communicating what should be seen and what should be done, should raise the irritation of doubt in all of us. As the recipient of a model (in the Social Big BIM sense), I may thank you for being Social and Big, and yet still I am left with the question: what should I look at and what should I do? For those who may still think these doubts are unjustified I mention here my experience. I understand the ideas, often discussed, that legal structures must adapt, and collaboration must increase, and attitudes must change. I have worked in a design firm that understands and embraces integrated project delivery, embraces and actualizes the importance of process, and endeavors to achieve the highest possible level of collaborative integration across the design, construct, own and operate lifecycle, and understands the importance of doing so from the beginning and continuously. Still, irritatingly so, doubt insists that one make clear what it means, precisely, to share a model, and I mean “make clear” as Charles Peirce described in 1878 in, “How to Make Our Ideas Clear” . To understand a thing, look at the effect of a thing (or its conceivable effects)

What is the effect of your giving me a model, or I giving one to you? What am I (or you) supposed to look at, understand, and do? Yes, when receiving a model we should increase the intensity of our discourse and collaboration. While true, this should not be mistaken for a satisfactory answer to the question, what is the effect?

A model (of any kind) is an environment that is at once full of information, and at the same time over-full of undifferentiated information. One is, by the very definition of environment itself, overwhelmed with information, unable to pick out what one should look at, and what one should be expected to do. We come then to the issue – within an environment one must be able to draw attention to the things that another should see, understand, and do. This is authoring. On the other hand, as the viewer, reader and recipient of those authorings, one must within an environment have one’s attention drawn to those things that another has indicated that we should see, understand, and do. Do we need a reminder that all writing is for a reader, and all reading is of what another has authored?

As elementary as these things are, they remain utterly obscure in industry today. The environment that draws attention to one thing no more than any other thing, therefore drawing attention to nothing, is the very state of the art today. This could certainly appear to be a large part of the reason for the state of confusion. It is necessary to move beyond this state. Doing so is conceptually simple once the terms are understood properly. The operative terms are “drawing” and “model”, and we can no longer be satisfied with the state of either of them. Both of them are insufficient to the task of communicating what is to be seen and understood in the complex projects that we all work on.

Drawing attention to things in the environment will take many new forms in the future. But we have made an important start by drawing attention toward the primary authored directive visual statements of the design and construction industry, and transforming those through aligned contextualization into the environment. This allows people to see, within the environment, those things that have been communicated that they should see and do. Although that alone is a meaningful step forward, it is only the first step. The steps that follow it will be discovered by adhering to the idea that one wants to draw attention to things in the environment that one should see, understand, and do. Doing this will increase the value of our (modeled) environments. The increase will be apparent to everyone within the social sphere of collaboration of our projects, while at the same time increasing the effectiveness of our (Social Big BIM) societies’ communications about those things that should be seen, understood, and done.

The start of this is available already today, but many have not heard of it. There is more information here:

10 Comments Add yours

  1. Some will argue that models will replace drawings when buildings (or airplanes) are 3D printed whole, no assembly required.

    Airbus plans to 3D-print an entire airplane by 2050

    But notice this: such a model must approach perfection. In order to ensure suitability of the model, the need for effective ways of looking at the model to assure ourselves of suitability will be a need on the increase, not a need on its way to extinction.

    The need for “drawings”, that is to say, the need – within the model – for the drawing of attention toward things in (and about) the model that must be seen, understood, and done, and verified (!), will increase along with the increasing applicability of 3D printing.

  2. jaredbanks says:

    Rob, great post. I love the dichotomy of object/environment drawing/model. I’m going to have to do some thinking and writing on this topic too! My guess is that once we are conscious of the model as environment and therefor its inherent trouble with distinguishing foreground from background, we’ll find solutions to that. And in fact Bentley’s solution is a very cool one. I don’t know if we’ll ever get rid of drawings… perhaps first we need to get rid of construction workers. Robot builders could understand models without the need for drawings. But that does also lead to the need for perfect models. Which then suggests that as model authors we need to put some distance between idea generation and execution. No more modeling walls and floors, just defining relationships and letting the models self-generate… okay much to think about!

  3. Thank you Jared. I’ve been writing in other posts, like this one that the idea of “getting rid of drawings” is a nonsense idea, because we understand what it means to draw.

    To draw means “to draw one’s attention toward” something. The need for this of course will never diminish. In fact it will increase. That is not by any means to say that drawings will remain in their conventional form as they are known today though. It means that within complex environments, one will always need to draw attention, within the environment, toward those things that need to be seen, understood, and done. The methods of drawing attention toward those things will change, but the need for it will not.

    The future of models will be much clearer than the present. We’ll be in the models and we’ll know what we’re supposed to look at, and what we’re supposed to do. We’ll know because the environment will make that clear to us.

    1. jaredbanks says:

      Very interesting. So the next big question then, as we move towards better models becomes “what is the future of drawings?” We’ve already divorced drawings from the pencil. They are evolving, becoming smarter, have hyper-links, etc. What’s next? There are little steps like dynamic instead of static drawings, color vs black and white, etc. But those are all minor upgrades. What’s the next big change. What’s a 21st century drawing?

  4. The 21st century drawing is immersed within the modeled environment. It is a combination of a variety of visual media, aligned and transformed within a model (environment). The environment, yields within itself the communicative statements that tell us what to look at, and what to understand and do.

    That will happen through a variety of techniques and transformations. An important first step is simply to align today’s construction drawings in-place within the model. Bentley does this automatically now. The alignment is effectively a transformation of both the drawings and the models. It makes both of them better, makes drawing and model, both, more understandable. It does the same thing for drawing and model that the synchronization of sound into picture did for sound and silent film.

    Specifically what it does for each drawing is it removes each drawing from the abstraction that obscures its meaning. I think this IBM commercial does a lot to explain the principle at work:

  5. Pingback: cinema | dagsljus

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