ways of looking at things

click for larger size
click for larger size

A model is information. A drawing is “a way of looking” at information. That’s an essential difference. Models, or information environments of any kind, by themselves, suffer from an intelligibility problem that won’t go away.

The mind relies on (and develops) techniques of conceptualization and interpretation to make sense of information, any kind of information, including the real world for example. We don’t internalize everything in the environment. We internalize what we can understand. What we can understand follows what we can see (seeing is believing). What we can “see” depends on our “ways of looking”. “Ways of looking” are adaptive; the mind develops, on its own, “ways of looking”, because of its need to make sense of an otherwise unintelligible avalanche of environmental information. Should we lament the limits of our ability to understand intensively dense complex information in its entirety, or should we be glad for our ability to conceptualize and interpret?

Before you go marching off straight out to sea denouncing the mind’s limits and salting the ocean itself with tears of lamentation, consider reversing course and staying alive.

Here is a detailed 3D model I built. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hZqDp8e-QfA

In that (tedious) video (above), I remove pieces of the model one at a time only to show something simple: there’s a question about intelligibility. How would you look at that model to make sense of it? Either while building the model, or later when handing it over, is the model clear? Can we understand it?

Doubt, in models, is another issue, related, but different.

A set of drawings is “a narrowing down” from all possible locations that could be drawn, to only those locations that are drawn and included in the document set. The narrowing down is essential because it reduces the practically infinite to the well-defined finite, which then allows for a process of review, of the finite set of authorized visual statements (drawings) that then are issued with the confidence (and authority) that comes from review. That confidence matters, to author and viewer.

Is the narrowing down possible in a model? Without it, does confidence evaporate, replaced by doubt?

To say that the end of drawings is in sight, or that their end would be welcome, is probably to ignore both the significant deficiencies of models, and the essential characteristics of drawings that are 1) to differentiate “here” from “everywhere” and make clear precisely what is affirmed, and 2) to provide/be a “way of looking” that can make sense of otherwise unintelligible information environments.

By the way, because “LOD” is not location-specific, and doesn’t account for omission, it doesn’t differentiate “here” from “everywhere” and doesn’t clarify what is affirmed: https://dagsljus.wordpress.com/2013/03/06/goodbye-lod-hello-lod/

We can forget about these issues if we want, and remain stuck with models composed of equal parts information and doubt, and that otherwise, except in specialized circumstances, tend toward indecipherability, and we can continue using models to automate drawings that also remain only stuck, with the limitations of their conventional strictly abstract form.

Or we can look forward.

Bentley’s AECOsim (MicroStation) is the only software that automatically takes what drawings are (a way of looking at things) and puts that “way of looking” into the model (automatically). http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8xAfZEK7hrY This way you can deliver your model with clarity, and your drawings with context.


But why stop there? Models and drawings are essential, in different ways. Forward-looking software development recognizes the value of each and seeks combination of those values, and transformation. Something new is formed in combination. The strength of each (model and drawing) is amplified (context and clarity, respectively) while weakness is mitigated (unintelligibility, doubt, abstraction).

But why stop there?

Combine all of that again with what you see through your eyeballs in the real world, sort of like this: http://youtu.be/kANBWhbHaEU?t=29s


But why stop there either? That’s just a beginning too.

The  idea is that there are information environments, and “ways of looking” at information environments. Both are essential. Knowing this opens a door to a field of innovation: in combinant environments, and in new ways of looking at them.

I think we have a good start, at just the very beginning. The goal is to go beyond the limitations of both models alone and drawings alone and make new kinds of media/data environments that energize thought, communication, interpretation and action, better than we’ve known before.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s