Paul at ExtranetEvolution AEC conferences, content and ‘unconferences’and Jodie at I have no opinion world architecture festival have commented recently on the low awareness and application of web technologies in the AEC and conference world. As one would expect following previous posts here, and as a founder to be2camp, I would share the same views, reinforced with recent observations.
I was amazed at the low awareness of web applications recently as I presented a session entitled from Facebook to BIMStorms. I knew I wasn’t going to complete the journey planned through the presentation when only 20% of the 70 people there used Facebook, and when asked if they used Facebook for anything other than social the response was nil, a couple on CAD, but then blanks on twitter, linkedin, BIM, etc. I couldn’t mention Second Life … And these were 70 of our next generation managers – being engaged in HNC or HND courses at the moment.
Hopefully it has led to working with colleges on raising awareness.
Another day, another course, a different set of organisations – 6 small contractors, discussion on use of IT on sites to enable access to knowledge, communication etc. Not one would allow laptops or computers on site, quoting a lack of trust of their staff to use responsibly and a security / theft issue.
A reminder that its 80% people management and 20% ICT ??? But maybe the 20% is taking the blindfold off?
Oh and has anyone tried to book a venue for an unconference with open wifi or good connectivity and power for people to use laptops? I find this frustratingly difficult as I seek a venue for a half day event next month. Conference organisers are way behind this need. And who feels awkward in using a laptop to make notes or blog, or to use the phone to tweet at a conventional conference?
For many conventional conference attendees, the idea of streaming presentations online will be a novel concept; laptops and mobile phones should remain switched off during sessions; and ‘social networking’ means wine and canapes – not blogs and tweets
And as I write this I see twitter messages from Mel and Paul on identifying who within the built environment sector are really embracing web2.0 technologies, as Mel says who is walking their talk? My reposnse would be:those who engaging with initaiatives such as be2camp, like the Constructing Excellence Collaborative Working Champions who are stepping forward to explore web2.0 in a days workshop in January led by Paul and myself. like the use of Twiiter by Constructing Excellence. Yes early days but ….
Unfortunately those who have never been introduced to the use of these technologies at a conference have difficulty understanding our frustration. It seems that not until you attend a Barcamp or other similar style conference, can you really understand what is missing from the conventional style.
I was impressed that the GreenBuild 2008 conference in Boston had free wifi all throughout the center. I used my iphone to tweet the conference, just turning off the ring. There were more people with laptops than I had seen at any other traditional conference. But I am thinking that most involved in green building would be the innovator type anyway so would be more open to using newer technologies like Web 2.0.
My (limited) USA experience suggests that free wifi is very much more widespread there than in the UK. Even in a major city like London, I struggle to find free wifi. Even where it is available (for the price of a drink in my local pub, for example, or to delegates attending an event – as I found last week at the Institute of Physics), you still have to enter a login and password.
I am lecturing at Loughborough University tomorrow and will poll my audience of MSc construction management students and staff and see how many of them are switched on to Web 2.0. I remain hopeful that upcoming professionals will be a powerful catalyst for change – just so long as their enthusiasm isn’t destroyed by the culture of most industry incumbents!
Great post Martin, yes I suppose it’s up to us, the very few to keep spreading the word and evangalising the use of IT in AEC industries. It looks like you are doing a great job getting in front of people at least! Like I said at Be2Camp, it was like a drop in the ocean, there may not have been huge numbers there, but the ripple effect will continue to expand and expand until the right people start hearing us.
Part of our adoption of Web 2.0 at CE has been an attempt to mainstream some of the available technologies within the construction sector; a sector which has traditionally been slow to adopt new IT tools and solutions.
We’ve had some successes (uniformly positive feedback on our use of Twitter) and some failures (why does nobody in our sector like to use discussion forums?).
Next steps – we’ve got a blog ready to go if we can find the time to start creating entries; we’re working on a user editable map showing Clubs, Demonstration projects, events etc for the front page; we’re restarting our construction wiki and have started uploading pictures to Flickr.
The key problems we have are time and resource. The upfront resource required to get some of these things set up in the first place is certainly significant!
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