A fundamental observational error

There is an oft-repeated observational error here that continues to retard the development and use of digital modeled environments of all kinds:

the metaverse is about transforming how we humans experience the digital world. Since the dawn of computing, digital content has been accessed primarily through flat media viewed in the third person. In the metaverse, our digital lives will increasingly involve immersive media that appears all around us and is experienced in the first person. It will impact everything, from how we work, shop and learn online to how we socialize and organize. It’s really that simple—the metaverse is the transition of the digital world from flat content to immersive experiences—and trust me, it’s not dead. 

If anything, the metaverse is inevitable. 

Born this way

Why is the metaverse inevitable? It’s in our DNA. The human organism evolved to understand our world through first-person experiences in spatial environments. It’s how we interact and explore. It’s how we store memories and build mental models. It’s how we generate wisdom and develop intuition. In other words, the metaverse is about using our natural human abilities for perception, interaction and exploration when we engage the creative power and flexibility of digital content.

https://venturebeat-com.cdn.ampproject.org/c/s/venturebeat.com/virtual/no-the-metaverse-is-not-dead-its-inevitable/amp/

The error is in what’s omitted.

It IS in our DNA. We DO understand the world through first person experiences. It IS how we interact and explore, …and so on with the rest of the paragraph above: correct, true, well stated.

The error is in the underdevelopment of observation, of the nature of those first person experiences. This is a failure both acute and chronic in the development of digital media serving industries that are more complex than ordinary daily life, like, for example, the architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) industry.

Let’s say something clear about this.

AEC is an industry reliant on something more than simple casual observation of one’s environmental surroundings. The AEC industry since long before software and digital media, and still currently, relies on highly articulated forms of focused attention about and within spatial visual environments both real (the real world) and imaginary (mental models of alterations of the real world) alike.

Likewise digital worlds. The mental models, now (for 30+ years) supplemented by digital models, are fuzzy. Or, our ability to grasp them adequately is fuzzy. Our comprehension/understanding is fuzzy, incomplete, inadequate.

For that reason our engagement with such environments requires a particular kind of articulation of our focused attention within them.

The point here is that reality (the real world, or the digitally modeled world) is at once NOT ENOUGH and TOO MUCH for our understanding. We need something more to deal with the world. That “something more” is our focused attention. Focused attention is a large part of our form of engagement with reality. And in technical and complex domains like AEC, that engagement, focused attention, has a particular FORM.

What does the FORM of articulated focused attention look like in domains like AEC?

It looks like technical drawing. It IS drawing.

By the way, what’s drawn in a drawing? Answer: your attention.

Articulate attentive focus in complex technical domains must be expressed in a clear form that’s tangible, durable, and shareable. Its purpose is to make answerable 4 fundamental kinds of questions about real or digital reality:

  1. How do I know when or if a mentally or digitally modeled environment is “good enough” or “done”, complete, adequate…?
  2. How do I or others understand our models? Do we understand superficially or in depth? If we understand thoroughly, how did we develop thorough understanding? What kind of process did we go through to reach that level of understanding?
    • The answer as always is a a kind of ping-ponging back and forth between
      • the fuzzily perceived entirety of a whole expansive environment, and
      • Our various acts and expressions of narrowed attentive focus
    • The back and forth between these it seems is at or near the root of cognition itself, or is at least its basic observable dynamic
  3. Are your models reliable, well built, complete, and correct more so in SOME areas than in others? WHERE are those areas? How can you or anyone else know where those areas are?
  4. Extending point 3, how can anyone AFFIRM to others that “HERE” (and here, and here, and there, and there…) the model meets a professional standard of care (reliable, well built, complete enough, correct, adequate)

So what’s the point?

The point is that while this is true,

Why is the metaverse inevitable? It’s in our DNA. The human organism evolved to understand our world through first-person experiences in spatial environments. It’s how we interact and explore. It’s how we store memories and build mental models. It’s how we generate wisdom and develop intuition. In other words, the metaverse is about using our natural human abilities for perception, interaction and exploration when we engage the creative power and flexibility of digital content.

it is also true that the 3 (plus time) dimensional reality of the real world is not enough alone to power our interpretive and actionable functional understanding of it.

Understanding requires application of faculties of attentive focus. In complex domains like AEC, the form and technique of articulate attentive focus is evolved and adapted to specific requirements demanded by the inherent complexity and risk of the domain.

This gets to the oft-repeated conceptual failure of those envisioning and developing digital media environments in such domains, and the software enabling those models:

techniques of articulate attentive focus within modeled environments remains underdeveloped. The intellectual energy invested in this so far has been insuffient.

Some correction to this problem has started:

Some further steps in the right direction are proposed:

There are other means/techniques of articulating attentive focus within digital and analog environments in the AEC industry and similar. But the techniques specified above, based on the legacy of technical drawing and its future evolution are fundamental, primary. The others are auxiliary, or at least, more specialized.

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