AEC’s Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test

Kool-Aid1“You’re either on the bus or off the bus.”

Tom Wolfe, The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test

Tom Wolfe’s classic saga is about Ken Kesey’s Merry Pranksters as they test the boundaries of consciousness.

However his 1968 book is remembered today, it is arguably the most popular example of the then growing literary style called New Journalism.

Just as New Journalism marked a turning point in the writing of nonfiction, the use of data in the AECO industry today marks a turning point in our own time.

Just as New Journalism captured the events that took place in the 60’s, so too all things digital has captured ours.

First Who, Then What

Your practice is either digital, or it is toast.

“You’re either on the bus or off the bus.”

What about you?

You’re either using BIM, or you’re off the bus.

Kool-Aid2Jim Collins in Good to Great told us it is imperative to have the right people on the bus.

That great leaders start – not by announcing to the people on the bus where they’re going – but by getting the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus, and the right people in the right seats

In your office, those right people – irrespective of what seats they are working in – are immersed in digital technology.

They’re fearlessly using BIM, and the information therein, for higher and better purposes.

“Everybody, everybody everywhere, has his own movie going, his own scenario, and everybody is acting his movie out like mad, only most people don’t know that is what they’re trapped by, their little script.”

Tom Wolfe, The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test

Up until now, as an industry, we haven’t made the most of digital tools that are available to us.

For many digital natives – those interacting with digital technology from an early age – this is moot.

They’re wondering why we’re even discussing this, like flowers discussing the sun; or fish, water; birds air.

But some of us late-arrivals-to-the-industry-digital-tools party believe ourselves to be not just digital immigrants, but digital exotics, digital foreigners, or digital aliens.

Kool-Aid3These are our basic fears:

Digital renders what we do as free

Digital renders what we do a commodity

Digital renders what we do as untraceable

Digital renders what we do as risky

Digital renders what we do as legally untenable

Digital renders what we do as obsolete

Our Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test moment

“I’d rather be a lightning rod than a seismograph.”

Tom Wolfe, The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test

People love buildings.

Architects love designing them.

Engineers love analyzing them.

Contractors love building them.

And yet our future depends on our producing computer-generated models together that contain information – geometry and data – to support the design, construction and fabrication through which our buildings come into being.

The reason this – here, today, now – is The AEC’s Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test (or, if you prefer, our Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep moment) is because we have arrived at this point – and there is no turning back.

All the pining for freehand drafting and hand sketching, nice as they are, adds-up to just so much romantic longing.

All the arguing in favor of continuing with CAD falls on deaf ears.

Just as the Earth has in recent weeks reached the uncharted territory as atmospheric carbon dioxide has shot past the penultimate 400 ppm mark, so too our industry has reached its own 400 ppm mark.

Only in terms of BIM.

No longer on the periphery of our visual field, edge of our consciousness, or margins of our minds – just as carbon is diffused in our atmosphere – BIM is as part and parcel of our practices.

We’re soaking in it. It is the air we breathe.

As Lachmi Khemlani has said: BIM has not only arrived in the AEC industry but has literally taken it over.

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “AEC’s Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test

  1. randydeutsch

    Autodesk CEO Carl Bass: “As CEO you’re driving the bus. If you’re erratic while you’re driving everyone gets pretty nauseous.” http://nyti.ms/19WcGwR

  2. Alan Mossman

    Not just “the design, construction and fabrication” but also the maintenance, re-design and re-fabrication.

    I hope Lachmi is wrong [BIM has taken over the industry]. BIM is just a tool, an important one that helps to focus an important conversation that has been missing these many years, but it is still a tool.

    Thanks for reminding me of this wonderful book and the links you made to it. great post. Alan

    • randydeutsch

      “…but also the maintenance, re-design and re-fabrication”

      Thanks Alan for suggesting these for inclusion – and for your kind words. I appreciate it.

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