Page 20



Primer on Example Knowledge Work Domains This section contains brief background descriptions of the three knowledge work domains used as examples throughout this book: architecture, clinical research, and financial trading. These example domains show the 100 envisioning ideas “in action” in specific contexts. By including three domains instead of one, each envisioning idea presents an opportunity to illustrate useful parallels and commonalities that can be drawn across very different types of work practice. The following background content is greatly simplified when compared to the complexity of real work in any one of these three fields. The same can be said for the related examples found throughout the 100 envisioning ideas themselves. Specialists in these professions will likely find this book’s descriptions of their vocations to be lacking in important specifics. They are. Please note that these omissions are intentional. This text is a fast access reference to key ideas that can improve application envisioning of knowledge work tools, not a comprehensive sourcebook for any one profession.


Architecture Architects and their firms, generally speaking, seek to profitably create well designed drawings for buildings that address complex criteria. These criteria can be set by diverse stakeholders such as clients, civil engineers, government regulators, and the general public. Architects also set many criteria themselves, based on their training and their personal perspectives on what constitutes good design. To reach these aims, architects frequently transition between synthetic creativity and highly analytical problem solving. The process of arriving at agreed upon building designs, and carrying them forward through construction, can involve many different types of activities and work processes. For this and other reasons, teams of architects and consultants, rather than a single individual, are often responsible for the design of any given project.

some of a firm’s applications are usually tailored specifically for architectural practices, architects also employ standard productivity tools and other general purpose products as part of their technological repertoires. The generations of architects working today have varying desires and expectations for their own use of interactive applications. Some of the more experienced, senior architects have remained reticent about using computing in tasks that the majority of architects now exclusively accomplish on screen. These experienced professionals often focus on how computing tools can limit the expressiveness and clarity of architectural outputs, while at the same time adding a high degree of learning, abstractness, and complexity to their own work practices. This reticence is in stark contrast to new practitioners in the field, who are expected to have a standard set of skills that includes effective operation of many of the latest computing tools. In between these two extremes are practitioners that are highly skilled at using “their” favored, proven products, and can make these chosen tools fit a wide variety of situations. At the time of writing, a subset of leading architecture studios has a strong interest in adopting new technologies to accomplish their aims. Some even consider their use of advanced computing applications as one of their key differentiators in the marketplace. Many of the expressive, curvilinear, and asymmetrical geometries found in contemporary architecture would be effectively impossible to resolve without the type of interactive explorations that are available within contemporary computing. Additionally, some cutting edge architects have become interested in how certain tools can programmatically generate novel forms and based on iteratively defined rules and constraints.

Visions of interactive applications in architectural practice began relatively early in the history of computing and continue to hold remarkable promise for future expansion (see the earlier mention of Douglas Englebart’s landmark application concept on page 16). These technological possibilities have been tempered by the established professional cultures in many architecture firms, which have historically been relatively slow to adopt available computing tools. At the time of writing, for an important range of reasons that are likely to persist for some time, a considerable amount of architectural practice is still being accomplished outside of computing environments. During the intervals of a project where architecture firms do frequently turn to interactive applications, they may use a variety of products, including computer aided drafting (CAD) and other tools for exploring, visualizing, simulating, presenting, revising, detailing, and communicating design possibilities. While

A key, recent development in the industry has been the introduction of Building Information Modeling (BIM), a term that encompasses an emerging class of computing applications that is beginning to drive radical changes in architectural practice. In BIM, the entire design of a building is stored as a collaborative virtual model that can be modified and referenced by different contributors to a project, purportedly improving communication and reducing representational misunderstandings. Since BIM inherently presents many of the challenges that can occur when attempting to support collaborative work with interactive applications, a hypothetical “building modeling application” appears throughout the architectural examples included in the 100 envisioning ideas.

The fictional architect in this book’s examples works at a medium sized, cutting edge studio with a robust computing infrastructure. She is still in the relatively early phases of her career, though she already has her eye set on becoming a partner some day or starting a similar practice elsewhere. At her level of seniority, she is a generalist, with responsibilities that range from client workshops to iteratively developing design and construction documents. She is part sketchbook dreamer, part diplomat, and part detail oriented workhorse. Her workplace goals include: Surpass, or at least meet, client expectations Create appealing, functional, high quality designs Incorporate compelling ideas and ”good design” into building drawings Collaborate effectively to meet project budgets and timelines Contribute to award winning work that impresses partners in her firm

Building Information Modeling | Application Concept

Working through Screens (Tabloid Size)  

Working through Screens: 100 Ideas for Envisioning Powerful, Engaging, and Productive User Experiences in Knowledge Work This heavily illus...