The Form of Engagement

The Form of Engagement

I am honored to speak at the BIM Coordinators Summit 2022 in September in Dublin. This post describes my talk: The Form of Engagement with digital models.

Update 6 JULY 2022:

Here’s a peak at the future form of visual engagement with digital models of all kinds, the future of attentive focus, and the future of technical drawing. A new TGN demo. Note the controlled visual interplay, the introspection at multiple levels (side to side, and between model and overlay). After the demo stops you can imagine the back and forth interplay continues… Use your imagination!

If you want TGN built into YOUR modeling application, contact rob snyder (me) or Sam Rice

I’ll have more to say about this shortly. An overview is here (this post, below). 

The idea is that these features (TGN) are for ALL apps, for every developer willing to deploy open source TGN in their modeling or drawing apps…

Summary:

About the form of engagement with models. 

TGN is a proposed form of engagement with digital models (of all kinds). It’s motivated by:

  • the imperative of visual interpretive technique for making sense of models, a human demand for clear intelligibility, through a coherent and recognizable form of engagement with very complex digital environments, and
  • the clear and present (and patently obvious!) path forward to the generation 2 fusion of articulate focus within digital worlds, leapfrogging the now 10 years old 1st gen drawing-model fusion automation that I invented.

TGN is intended as an open standard and common format of engagement with models, for development within YOUR favorite modeling apps and platforms. TGN is a triple fusion of:

  • modeled environments (of any kind)
  • technical “drawing” (attention-focusing rigs)
  • techniques of camera control from the history of film (who’s better at techniques of looking atthings?)

Regarding the latter (camera control), some intriguing examples are here on YouTube: https://youtu.be/yLHNBssyuE4 The narrator mentions at the end, “camera moves in film, combining informational control and emotional positioning; movement becomes the director’s editorial voice.” 

Well, this is applicable in technical domains like engineering, architecture, and construction, far more than you may at first imagine. 

TGN will make digital worlds more effective, useful, and engaging for architects, engineers, builders, and facility occupants and operators. 

At a minimum, TGN is aimed at making (all) models more engaging, more intelligible, more clarifying, and therefore easier to use and more useful to use, less tedious to use and more fun to use. More interesting AND more practical. More informative. Let’s put it this way: more a place where thinking happens and understanding grows. 

This will attract more people, to do more things, with more models. 

And guess what?

That’s gonna make models better.

To be clear, you develop TGN functions in your favorite software platform. 

TGN is NOT, yet another, software product. 

It just makes the software you love, better. 

Let’s do it!

Be the cat!

Evolution in the Form of Engagement.

TGN is a proposed industry standard, and open, form and format of engagement with digital spatial environments of all kinds, with a community-managed TGN standard core feature set (to enable cross-app/platform TGN rig portability with acceptable graphical fidelity after the share) plus a practically unlimited feature ceiling above the standard core for domain and app-unique graphical expression that can be developed by anyone using the TGN API while still having the reliable TGN standard core.

Download a software developer specification for TGN at my website: https://tangerinefocus.com   There, also find TGN demo and discussion videos.

I’ll show in Dublin in September: an improved TGN demo, the TGN feature set, ideas on how TGN development can be phased, a distinction between standardized core features (for TGN portability from one app to another), and the unlimited potential for tuning and additional features for anyone who wants to carry it further and do unique things in their TGN implementation in their target app.

There should be (many) dozens of different implementations of TGN catering to many specializations, in many apps and platforms, but all with a common minimum TGN standard core, for the primary must-have critical base features that make up the basic visual Form of Engagement with digital models, of all kinds.

Once it starts it won’t stop…

Engagement has Form

Think of engagement, and forms of engagement

In the engagement of sky and ground, the engagement is formed through trees and grasslands. How about people engaged with other people? Engagement can be through boxing, or debate, or many other forms. At a larger scale, where populations engage with nature, these engage through urban form, the form of the city.

Now picture this: a person engaged with a piece of luggage. They engage by way of a handle. Hauling a piece of luggage onto a train without a handle is an awkward form of engagement. So much so that soon enough we’ll find ourselves discarding contents, or abandoning the luggage altogether. The point is that without an effective form of engagement, engagement fails. No engagement is formed.

The form of engagement with digital models

Do we wander around in modeled environments noticing this or that randomly, and then call it a day? Of course we roam. But superficial understanding of technical models is not enough. Forms of engagement that give us the grasp needed for serious work are required.

We have those forms of engagement. Among them, drawing is primary. Technical drawing.

Drawing is not the only form of engagement with digital models. Other forms include (forms of interrogation) search, and count, which are essential. But they’re not replacements for attention-focusing acts of visual interpretation, i.e., drawing. 

For drawing, there is no substitute.

Why?

  1. Drawing sets up a structural dynamic of INTERPLAY, like a back and forth on a tennis court. On one side of the court is our perception of the model: WIDE, expansive, a whole thing like an environment. On the other side of the court is the set of clarifying acts of NARROWING interpretive focus. You look at a specific place in a modeled environment, and clarify something there, at numerous (and significant, illuminating) locations throughout a model.

    You can test this yourself, even in non-technical situations. See if you can understand your own acts of narrowed attentive focus, without considering the wider environment around you. Or, see if you can understand the wider environment, without attentive narrowing focus. The absence of mutual interplay between environment and focus goes straight to total unintelligibility. You can prove this to yourself in a few seconds.

    It’s in the dynamic, in the interplay, that you think, study, learn. Understanding grows there. It takes effort and has to be maintained energetically. Note of course, it’s a mental exercise that until recently was completely unassisted by digital media.
  2. Just above the foundational level, of structuring the basic observable dynamic of the development of thought and understanding — you agree it matters, right? — the interplay produces pragmatic effects right away. You use it to ask and answer important basic questions about the model: Is it done yet? Is it good enough? Where is it good enough Where is it not good enough?

    You use it also for assertion and affirmation: Look here. I looked, and reviewed here. And what should be shown here is shown here. Nothing that matters is missing here. I affirm it. Or: Look here, please. Something that matters is missing/wrong here. Fix it.
ATTENTION-FOCUSING RIG (CAT) IN AN ENVIRONMENT

Be the cat! 

On an AEC project, you are an attention-focusing rig in a garden. You’re building a mental model of the project, and in your mind’s eye (as a mental exercise) you’re positioning each drawing at its true orientation in-situ within the mental model.

This, drawing, drawing your attention, is the form of engagement targeted right at the core of interpreting and understanding models, aimed bullseye right at increasing model utility and utilization. 

But why have software companies left us dependent on a strictly mental exercise of visualization unassisted by digital media? Particularly when the digital model so obviously can assist with this, so powerfully, so effectively. Why can I not engage with incredibly complex technical models, with the engagement handles (the attention-focusing interpretive rigs, i.e., the drawings) right where they are in-situ WITHIN THE MODELS? 

The question occurred to me after years of building extremely detailed elaborate building models at architecture firms together with structural and mechanical engineers modeling their domain systems.

First Gen Fusion

Software should do this for you. Digital modeled environments should show you the drawings where they really are at true orientation within the models, automatically, supporting this wide<>narrow, environment<>focus dynamic, the interplay, and the pragmatics that follow immediately from it.

I was a user of MicroStation software and the Brics BIM module (TriForma) that ran on it, since 1996. In 2007 I wrote to Bentley Systems about this drawing-model fusion idea. Eventually this led to my employment there leading the team that designed and developed the drawing-model automated fusion features that were released in May 2012, then marketed as the so-called “hypermodel,” a term that hopefully by now has been forgotten. I never liked it.

But, you know, it was the beginning. The form of engagement was there, right in the model. The handles were screwed into the luggage. They didn’t fall off. The continuous mental exercise, of fusion, fusion of clarifying focus IN the modeled environment, was assisted, finally, to some extent anyway, by the software, by the digital modeled environment itself.

10 Years Gone, and 8 software companies since 2012, that I know of, do this drawing-model fusion automatically, now. I list them in the second paragraph here on my website with links to each: https://tangerinefocus.com/tangerine-2/earlier-media-innovations/ 

Good. But not good enough. That’s all first generation fusion stuff. This is a primary form of engagement with models and it’s going to continue to evolve. The form, that is, will evolve.

Second Gen Fusion: TGN

I’ve thought about this at length and I’ve proposed a second generation of this fusion as primary form of engagement with digital models. I call it “TGN.” This time it’s a triple fusion of:

  1. modeled environments (of any kind)
  2. technical “drawing” (attention-focusing rigs)
  3. techniques of camera control from the history of film (who’s better at techniques of looking atthings?)

Regarding the latter (camera control), some intriguing examples are here on YouTube: https://youtu.be/yLHNBssyuE4. The narrator mentions at the end, “camera moves in film, combining informational control and emotional positioning; movement becomes the director’s editorial voice.” 

Well, this is applicable in technical domains like engineering, architecture, and construction, far more than you may at first imagine. 

This 2nd generation fusion is not just additive. It’s not just a sticking together of different things, which was a fault of the 1st gen fusions. The 2nd gen has matured. This is about recognizing the essential qualities of each of the ingredients and combining them in ways that amplify each. Let’s say, TGN is like cooking, a kind of chemistry among the ingredients.

I wrote a software developer specification for TGN. You can download it at my website: https://tangerinefocus.com (there also find TGN demo and discussion videos).

TGN is a set of important enhancements to drawing-model fusion. The TGN developer spec is open and free for anyone to use. It’s intended for use by software companies to implement TGN features into their software products.

The proposed enhancements to drawing-model fusion (+ camera rig), TGN:

  • strengthen the perceptual interactive engagement with models
  • make richest possible use of available graphic expression for improving interpretive sense-making power and effectiveness.

And the TGN spec also suggests:

  • a framework for standardizable cross-platform portability of these fusions, both 1st gen and 2nd gen (TGN), and
  • important improvements also in terms of OPENNESS —> to many sources of input into the fusions, and output.

Let me assist you with your implementation. Message me: https://tangerinefocus.com/contact-us/

BIM Coordinators Summit 2022

I’m presenting TGN at the BIM Coordinators Summit 2022 in Dublin in September. In my talk I’ll illustrate details of the TGN spec. I’d like to emphasize, I am looking for software developers, or AE firms that do their own software projects, who want to develop the generation 2 version of this. It’s the future of technical drawing, THE form of engagement with models.

TGN will make digital worlds more effective, useful, and engaging for architects, engineers, builders, and facility occupants and operators. 

At a minimum, TGN is aimed at making (all) models more engaging, more intelligible, more clarifying, and therefore easier to use and more useful to use, less tedious to use and more fun to use. More interesting AND more practical. More informative. Let’s put it this way: more a place where thinking happens and understanding grows. This will attract more people, to do more things, with more models.

And guess what?

That’s gonna make models better.

To be clear, you develop TGN functions in your favorite software platform.

TGN is NOT, yet another, software product.

It just makes the software you love, better. 

Let’s do it!

Stay tuned for, as I’ll show in Dublin in September: an improved TGN demo, the TGN feature set, ideas on how TGN development can be phased, a distinction between standardized core features (for TGN portability from one app to another), and the unlimited potential for tuning and additional features for anyone who wants to carry it further and do unique things in their TGN implementation in their target app.

There should be (many) dozens of different implementations of TGN catering to many specializations, in many apps and platforms, but all with a common minimum TGN standard core, for the primary must-have critical base features that make up the basic visual Form of Engagement with digital models, of all kinds.

Once it starts it won’t stop…

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