interacting with information

“There’s a clear direction … away from people thinking, ‘This is my PC, this is my hard drive,’ to ‘This is how I interact with information, this is how I interact with the web.'”

Occasionally you come across a quote that reinforces up what you have been trying to communicate for ages, such is the comment above from Dave Armstrong, head of product and marketing for Google Enterprise, reported in the Observer article Google plans to make PC’s history .

This illustrates that the move towards a more web2.0 environment is no more about the technology but about people, trust and empowerment.

Over the last week or so I have seen many examples of the silo approach to information and knowledge, from projects to corporates to universities to industry champions, all concerned over loss of some kind of advantage (claims, profit, competitive edge, intellectual rights etc) in the face of sharing on web2.0 platforms or apps.

Maybe the built environment sector need to look at the mess the music industry has gotten itself into by trying to retain some degree of ownership for a solution.

There is also the generation thing here, as Paul commented at last weeks collaborative champions meeting, Y Gen and Google Gen people are unconscious collaborators , and yet the more influential generation (boomers) maybe stifling such collaboration by taking away and banning collaboration / sharing tools such as facebook and twitter and blogs and ….

There is also a parallel here to the anti-benchmarking school of thought, but history has shown that those who share, learn and benchmark mark with others have gained rather than lost advantage and made progress on many improvement fronts.

Time for us in the built environment to re-evaluate how we  interact with information and the internet…

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a smart eco house that daydreams?

Following recent communication with Adam Somlai-Fischer at Zuiprezi, who I hope can get to talk at the be2camp event in October, I took a look at the Reconfigurable House, a concept environment developed by Adam constructed from thousands of low tech components that can be “rewired” by visitors.

So far so good, but reconfigurations can be made endlessly as people change their minds, so that the House can take on completely new behaviours.

Smart homes actually aren’t very smart simply because they are pre-wired according to algorithms and decisions made by designers of the systems, rather than the people who occupy the houses.

so the user gets to configure the usability level, excellent, but:

if the House is left alone for too long, it gets bored, daydreams and reconfigures itself….

The Reconfigurable House is open source, registered through Creative Commons which seems to allow you to download the code and create your very own reconfigurable home, or upload your own configurable devices into the house suite.

Arguments as to who has control of the remote may take on a whole new dimension.

out breeam’d ?

The UK Green Building Council has promised an open source sustainability code, to help address the confusion arising from the myriad of different green building standards with a new Code for Sustainable Buildings, joining in the debate / tussle between LEED and BREEAM.

Paul King, Chief Executive of the UK-GBC,: “Industry needs a clear and practical route map and milestones that are aligned with Government policy to give it the confidence and knowledge to move forward on a trajectory to 2019.

UK-GBC Chairman Peter Rogers , “The UK-GBC wants to see very wide take-up of robust and customer-friendly tools, and we believe that the standards at the heart of a new Code for Sustainable Buildings should be ‘open source’, meaning that such a Code could potentially be incorporated into a range of different tools, from a range of providers who could then compete in terms of service provision, without confusing the industry with different standards.”

The concept of open source, is to be welcomed, allowing the code to be incorporated into regional, corporate and community developments, and also allowing other standard bodies, building firms and consultancies to use elements of the code in their own green building guidelines.  And it flies in the face of the more closed and commercial approaches from BREEAM and LEED

The final code, which is scheduled to be published in March next year, is expected to mirror the government’s Code for Sustainable Homes and as such, will feature wide-ranging rules and guidelines on the metrics and best practices builders should embrace to limit the environmental impact of offices, commercial properties and other non-domestic buildings.

Is there something else here,? Can codes, approaches, tools and technologies which in essence will improve environmental performance, carbon emissions, sustainability generally, and ‘save the planet’ morally be closed and commercial. The emerging models of wikinomics, freeconomics etc must be applied to sustainability, where the economic model is built upon giving away free ‘lead’ products.

I would love to see much more open approaches with the built environment sustainability agenda using for example the creative common model.

2008 KPI’s

Constructing Excellence issue 2008 KPI data

The latest UK Construction Industry KPI data is now available interactive and on-line at KPIzone (http://www.kpizone.com). Supported by the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR), KPIzone contains over 700 graphs and charts, together with industry standard KPI definitions and methods of measurement.

In the age of open source, and the fact that these KPI’s are a key measure behind the UK Sustainable Construction Strategy is it correct to charge for access to this data and KPI material? Surely if Constructing Excellence and the Government are serious about change in the sector then these should be open to all to encourage greater use. Of course the CE business model would be then around benchmarking and sharing, ie a support service rather than selling a product.

wikitecture wins international open source competition

A web2 collaborative project I have been following through second life and wiki architecture has been the open source architecture design competition via Open Architecture Network.

Delighted then to receive the following good news alert from Ryan at Wikitecture:


Wikitecture Wins International Competition: 3D-Wiki Used to Compose an Open-Source Entry

Chicago, IL, June 09, 2008 – Out of 566 registered entries from 57 countries, Studio Wikitecture won the overall ‘Founder’s Award’ for their open-source entry to a competition hosted by Architecture for Humanity on the Open Architecture Network. In keeping with the collaborative spirit of the Open Architecture Network, their entry for a tele-medicine facility in Western Nepal was chosen “for embracing a truly collaborative way of working using online crowdsourcing and Second Life as a way to create a highly participatory design approach.” Source


Having conducted a number of experiments over the last year into the feasibility of applying an open-source paradigm to the practice of architecture, the Studio Wikitecture group developed a 3D-Wiki plug-in on the virtual reality platform, Second Life, that they used to help build consensus among the numerous contributors in this open-source project.

The ‘Wiki-Tree’ as it was called, acted as a version tracking system that worked very much like a conventional Wiki, but instead of tracking text documents in a linear history as you see in Wikipedia, the ‘Wiki-Tree’ tracked versions of 3-dimensional models and saved them within a continually evolving 3-dimensional digital tree ‘canopy’. Similar to Wikipedia, this 3D-Wiki allowed this loose, self-organized group of contributors to share ideas, edit the contributions of others, and vote on which design iterations should be considered for further refinement.

Over and above the actual building design, Studio Wikitecture’s entry proposed that the wiki-tree and virtual model live on pass the competition and be used to help incorporate feedback from the Nepalese community and end-users into evolving design.

In addition, they proposed that the virtual platform would allow individuals from around the world to experience the local site and conditions as the project evolves over time, further expanding the outreach, awareness and support for this project to a global audience.

The winning entry was the result of Studio Wikitecture’s 3rd Wikitecture experiment to explore the procedures and protocols necessary to practice a more open and distributed approach to architectural design. Of those, the group explored prediction market voting procedures to assure consensus or ‘Crowd Wisdom’, as well as developed a contribution assessment system to divvy up fair ownership among all the contributors.

The Final Competition Boards: http://flickr.com/photos/studiowikitecture/sets/72157604038184909/show/

A time-lapse video of the evolving design:

http://youtube.com/watch?v=amCi90zH3VI

A video illustrating how the ‘Wiki-Tree’ works:

http://youtube.com/watch?v=Z3eWKIJxzyc

A journal article outlining, in detail, the three Wikitecture experiments:

http://crescendodesign.com/103_chase.pdf

The accompanying website:

http://studiowikitecture.com/ (click on ‘go’ twice to enter anonymously)

The Blog:
http://studiowikitecture.wordpress.com/

wanted … eco home builder

I have for a while now been exploring Second Life’s contribution to the built environment – on themes of collaboration, education and usability.

One of these ideas is to create a UK Level 6 Eco Home within second life to use as an educational device. A meeting a month or so ago with Pam Broviak (Public Works Director for the City of LaSalle, Illinois) has led to a collaborative project forming an International Eco-Code Park within Second Life. The Public Work island already contains a US Code House, demonstrating how such virtual builds can be used effectively.

Read more over on Pam’s Public Works blog

The island also contains a brilliant bridge tour built by TEEX enabling you to view all risks and hazards of concrete bridge construction. Read a review in the latest, hot of the press, copy of GridWorks

So a plot of land has been cleared, signs put in place, across the street from the US Code House to build a UK level 6 eco home. Perhaps a Dunster (level 7) home or Hanham Hall home? (Location on Public Works)

We are now seeking support from designers and SL builders to help on this exciting project. If you are a SL builder, educator or would like to fund and support this project please do get in touch. (or IM Brand Woodin or Pam Renoir from within Second Life)

When complete, or indeed even in construction, the international eco-code park will enable educational tours and visits from colleges and universities, on site workshops and discussions along with the show casing of real world eco solutions and material. It is even anticipated the homes could be used to give building code assessors more awareness and depth to training – as the existing TEEX bridge and Code house do already.

If you do not have a Second Life – join up through our dedicated Public Work registration site – you will arrive in Second Life at the Public Works Island and meet other built environment professionals there who will assist with any questions.  We look forward to seeing you there.

meeting tomorrows needs?

Alex Steffen over at Worldchanging posts an interesting comment on the future usability, flexibility and appropriateness of facilities designed by ego -starchitects.   Alex calls for : An open architecture, an architecture which asks a question of the future — how does our inspiration today serve your needs tomorrow?

(This question of inspirations today meeting the needs of tomorrow is being raised on many public PFI facilities at the moment, withing education and health for example. (Are we really building schools for the future)

A global, and virtual, open source architecture movement is gathering momentum within second life (wikitecture) and the open architecture network amongst other places.

And of course this all comes back to real integrated and collaborative working across the whole facilities and project players, stakeholders and end users. (see studio wikitecture concept for a nice approach to integration and collaboration)