The purpose of media is to support the thought process, to help us understand things. Media will continue evolving for this purpose. Tangerine’s Spec will play an important part in making media a more energetic and able companion to thought and understanding, and will do so both for human, and machine, cognition.

Tangerine Media Innovation Spec 2018 — read it here on Apple Books for Mac and iOS devices, and here as PDF for Windows and Android — is dedicated to everyone who makes drawings or models of any kind in any field for any purpose. Modeling and drawing go together like Led Zeppelin and bell bottom jeans. Like desert roads and motorcycles. Like the earth and the sun. They’re inseparable. One hardly makes sense without the other. 

Software products over the last 30 years, though, have lead us adrift from our natural understanding of this inseparability. We’ve been seduced into believing that digital modeling, 3D modeling, is to replace drawing, that modeling makes drawing obsolete, that drawing will pass into history, forgotten except as artifact. This is fundamental error. It fails to recognize what drawing and modeling actually are, respectively. And because of this, it fails to recognize, both, their total mutual interdependence, and the possibility of their mutual evolution.

Drawing is an expression, and embodiment, of the narrowing act of taking a closer look. Modeling, on the other hand, represents the wider expansive whole, the environmental. Neither wide nor narrow, environment nor focus, makes sense without the other. Their fusion, one within the other (and a ping-ponging interplay between them) resides at the core of human cognition. 

This was well understood in former times. The model, the expansive (and fuzzy) environmental whole, was held in the mind, in imaginary space. A forthcoming design, nascent, developing, unfolding, unclear but carrying forward from some idea, driven toward fruition as if by some kind of “force”, does not arrive in the mind fully formed, and its clarification, resolution and fruition rely completely on what perhaps can best be described as something behavioral: the focusing and articulating act of taking a closer look. This behavior is carried out both systematically, and naturally, as if second nature, instinctive, or something like this. In any case, we’re on safe ground asserting that human thought, understanding, and communication, simply do not get underway at all, without this interplay, without this fusion, ever. 

A drawing means nothing, without the model it clarifies. And the reverse is true too; a model, unclarified by the act of taking a closer look within it — which of course is an act carried out through a medium otherwise known as “drawing” — simply never moves out of fuzziness and fog into clear light. 

The meaning of the terms “drawing” and “modeling” go to the most fundamental of things, to our ability to see and understand anything, from the most ordinary of things in daily life, to the complexity of architecture and engineering projects, to the most obscure aspects of observable reality. When we’re making models (mental or digital), and making drawings, we’re engaged in the act of thinking itself.

When creating a digital model, we need equipment, built right into the modeled environment, for taking a closer look, equipment with which we empower ourselves to better see and better understand, to better think about, what our model is and what it’s becoming, and to better communicate this to ourselves and to others..

Digital technology today presents the possibility, and the imperative, to re-envision this equipment. The act of articulate, clarifying, narrowing focus (aka, “drawing”), can, first of all, reside in-situ within digital models. This has begun to happen in a number of commercial software products since 2012, starting with the drawing-model fusion innovations that I led at Bentley Systems, and since then implemented by other companies too in unique ways, including by Graphisoft, Revizto, Dalux, and working together, Morpholio and Shapr3D. These are first generation implementations of drawing-model fusion. There is opportunity now, of course, for leapfrogging.

Drawing has arrived now within digital models. Inevitably, it’s going to evolve there. The Tangerine Media Innovation Spec 2018 describes that evolution, a second generation of the fusion of drawing and modeling. Chapter 3 gives instructions, for software developers, detailing what “taking a closer look“ can look and feel like (we re-envision it) within modeled environments of any kind. Software developers can read chapter 3 for step by step instructions for building powerful new equipment within models for expressing the essential function of drawing, while releasing us all from the non-essential constraints of drawing’s traditional form.

Better media for better understanding. That’s the purpose of this spec: to spur evolution in media itself, to make media a better, more energetic and able companion, to thought and understanding. 

Media, we can surely make the case, is where thinking happens and understanding grows. Media has evolved and will continue to evolve. As it was with sound and film, for example, 100 years ago, so it will be with drawing and modeling. Fusion drives media forward by amplifying interplay, the fuel of cognition one may say: interplay between the wider expanse of an environmental whole, and our articulating act(s) of narrowing focus within those environments, mirroring the innate fusion that has always been, innate within the mind.

Tangerine’s Media Innovation Spec 2018 will have a secondary effect, on cognitive computing.