As we planned a weekend away, many thoughts came to mind as we gathered our things that we need and prefer to have with us during even our short times away from home. Sure we took clothes and all of those other necessities, but we packed plenty of technology too. We took a three-hour trip which requires things to do for my wife and son. They are both avid readers, but also enjoy video games. So the DS, iPad and portable DVD player were packed. They watched a movie onboard our flight as I piloted our car to our destination. This gives me time to ponder, meditate and dream up more posts for the blog since I prefer to drive. With that list our two cell phones, digital camera and FlipCam struggle to compete as impressive.
As we closed in our own destination I pulled out our GPS to land us accurately at the first stop on our trek. In the old days, my wife navigated for me from a map. For those of you younger than 30, that’s a paper copy of what you see on your iPhone GPS app. Once you unfold it, no one can fold it back again. It still bothers me not to have a good sense of direction of where I am and where we’re going. So I check maps online ahead of time and I tend to use the map mode of the GPS and not that weird mode where it looks like you’re driving into the thing. How does that help? All it tells you is you’re going forward. I also remember the old days where we left an itinerary with the hotel phone number with our parents before we had cell phones.
So as I’m writing this I’m sitting in our hotel room Saturday night using my laptop which we bring along so we can check email on the hotel’s WiFi service. We won’t stay in a hotel unless it offers complimentary WiFi…and free breakfast too (preferably with “make-your-own” waffles). Classy places we choose huh? (Off topic…but did you ever notice that the more you pay for a hotel room the less complimentary services you get… go figure?). I don’t do work on these days off, but when you run your own business, it’s impossible to go for two days without at least checking email. My wife has her digital routines as well.
I say all of this to tie in my week of work…as an architect…where I am using technology to supposedly advance the higher causes of the profession of architecture. Despite using email, PDF files and the web to communicate with contractors and vendors during construction, I’ve been using a few recent projects to force teach myself to use a BIM workflow more (yes Randy, Tara, Enoch, et al). Give me time; it’s a love/hate relationship. I finally got on board with some aspect of “the Cloud” by signing up for a Dropbox account too. I was introduced to it in my role in teaching at CMU. Yet a frustrating trip to a popular cafe for lunch and a bit of work (where I forgot my flash drive) made me realize I needed a better solution for file management and backup. Wow, that’s a lot of technology in a single week for a guy who is most happy with his sketchbook and a wood office pencil.
The final thought as I drink in all of the radical changes occurring in my lifetime is what is it really improving? We supposedly work more productively and share information in split seconds. We can build complex structures that were nearly impossible before because of computational design and hopefully we’re saving the planet from the past bursts of technology. Yet as all of our information is floating around out there in cyber world, I have to wonder about it. I worry about it like we are all like Hansel and Gretel giddy about their find of a house made of gingerbread, candy and sweets while the witch is inside heating up the stove. These are my wonders…how about you?