Wednesday, November 7, 2012

What Keeps Us Interested?

Had a great discussion not too long ago to a group of students and great minds, where I was asked the question afterwards, "What keeps you interested in BIM and technology?"

[Insert long thoughtful pause here]

I answered, "I guess it would have to be the promise of technology. Not only to design and construction and BIM, but in what we haven't thought about yet."

While this was a very truthful (and somewhat esoteric answer), the reality is that I thought about this question for some time on the plane ride home. Wondering if I had answered in a meaningful way, or if I had just scarred and confused a promising young mind forever?

So what exactly is it about the promise of technology that keeps not just me, but a whole host of people engaged in meaningful dialogs across the world... plugged in and searching for an aha moment, a break through or an app that can read minds?

As I see it, I believe it is the challenge of technology and human connectivity that keeps us searching.

In open retrospect, we all seem to firmly believe that technology will provide us with the means of creating a better world. There have been great examples of how societies have changed for the better or where new advances in science and research have occurred because of technology....but was it technology or was it connectivity?

Some would argue connectivity, such as the stodgy old sales guy I'm sitting next to on this flight to Orlando. Others would argue technology, such as my generation Y brother, who when I last visited him, was playing xBox 360, whilst talking to Siri on his iPhone to find a "western buffet" and listening to his laptop that was streaming a Pandora playlist through Facebook. (Yes I bore witness to this)

It seems to me that the best answer of why we continue to connect, download and search is a blend of both. Simply connecting human to human alone isn't big or fast enough (for right or wrong). Yet technology without human context is a one way street. Then I had my aha moment... what we are building is why we connect.

The HUGE amounts of information that surrounds us in our daily lives is now able to be collected, sorted and displayed in various forms to other humans in increasingly meaningful ways. Whether you are building a historic archive of your life (Facebook, twitter, instagram) or creating a digital 3D model of Seattle that could someday allow a blind man on a bicycle to wear a headset to navigate his way through the city streets...we connect to what we build...and we continue to build information to connect to.

So maybe to the student who asked that question, I would say now, "Because I think buildings will one day be able to talk, people will understand and achieve homeostasis with one another and I'll finally be able to have my iPhone read my mind as I cruise through downtown Seattle blindfolded on my 'Back to the Futur(ish)' hoverboard.