At CONSTRUCT 2011, CSI’s Joy Davis opined that social media are converging. That’s not all the convergence that’s going on.
Convergence of TV and Internet: Google TV and Apple TV will soon turn TV and the Internet into one experience.
● Old way with separate media, and separate apparatus.
● Future, with access to both TV and Internet through TV sets. Apple and Google have both been working on this for years now, and it’s just a matter of time until one or both of them finds the right way to make it a hit with consumers.
Convergence of Spec Writing, Word Processing, and File Management: This has already happened. These tasks used to be performed by separate people. Now spec writers need all three abilities in their skill set.
● Old way, with spec writers doing the editorial work via hard copy markups, secretaries doing keyboarding and managing files.
● Current way, with spec writers responsible not only for editorial and technical content of specs, but also for word processing production and file management. For me, file management has been particularly challenging, what with multiple reviews, multiple bid packages, addenda, and issued-for-construction sets. In addition, most of us now are responsible for turning spec word processing documents into bookmarked combined PDFs for distribution on CDs and/or the Internet.
● Future: See below.
Convergence of Specs and Drawings: Specs and drawings will eventually converge into the BIM model. Since I haven’t yet had a chance to work on BIM-linked specs, I don’t have a clear picture of what’s possible or practical. I’ve got a lot to learn about here.
● Old way: Separate people produced drawings and specs, using separate production tools and separate production tracks. Users (builders, and then owners) have to refer to sets of drawings and volumes of project manuals to learn about the buildings they build and own.
● Present and near term future: Software interoperability used mainly (I think. Please correct me if I’m wrong) as a coordination aid in producing specs and drawings. Linking software (at least BSD’s Linkman-e) isn’t part of the deliverable construction documents. It doesn’t appear that there’s an industry consensus yet about how much specification data really belongs in the model.
● Future: Hard to say exactly how it will work out, but as a minimum, graphic files and data files will be linked for ease of use by builders in building, and later to aid owners in managing the buildings.
And if that’s not enough convergence for you, check out futurist Ray Kurzweil’s fascinating website Accelerating Intelligence and his book The Singularity is Near, in which he posits (I think) the eventual merging of humans and machines.
Hang on. Everybody in the AEC business is in for a wild ride the next few years. We will NOT be bored!