Take Ctrl Of Your (Digital) Life


I was recounting to a colleague recently about one of the signs of our digital interactions encroaching on our day to day (analogue?) interactions.  I had dropped my favourite mug and broken the handle and my immediate reaction was to type out in my head and with my hand <Ctrl> Z, the universal keystrokes for undo.  He looked at me strangely, as he clearly was not experiencing any such crossovers in his brain!

This got me thinking on a number of streams, and one of these was the day to day use of such “universal” keystrokes.  My work takes me into a number of different AEC businesses across Australia & New Zealand and I’m still struck with what I see people not doing as they interact with their digital interfaces.  Brief conversations along the lines of “Just <Ctrl> F it” followed by “What will that do?” or the retort “JFGI“* when someone has asked an innocuous question the 12th time…

Search… “try to find something by looking or otherwise seeking carefully and thoroughly.” (I googled that definition) has got to be the most important skill in any information based environment.  Our profession is grappling more and more with this as the emphasis moves away from geometry and more towards the “i” in BIM.  Lets look at some simple examples where our day to day working is made easier by a simple <Ctrl> F.

A lot of people create a bound PDF set of their project at various stages.  While DMS’s don’t like them, they are an invaluable “database” of a point in time.  <Ctrl> F will be your best friend in this environment when looking for some text based information on a drawing.  Use it to find a drawing no, a drawing reference, highlight all instances of a particular wall tag on a drawing, find that note that you know you added 2 months ago…

The help menu (“Nooooo!” cry all the men, “I don’t need help… I’m just not sure where to find it… Don’t tough F1“)  Utterly invaluable in this age of complex BIM software.  I once got a job with a practice that was 50/50 ArchiCAD/AutoCAD where I had little AutoCAD experience.  In the interview I was asked “how well do you know AutoCAD?”.  When I replied “Not enough to support an office”, the reaction was visibly negative.  However I followed up with “but I know where to go to find the solution” and all was well again and I got the job.

Search is not just an action but it’s also an attitude… one, I would hope, anyone who thinks themselves a designer should be very familiar with.  Take <Ctrl> and any number of keystrokes to take control.

*Googling JFGI may be considered NSFW in some circumstances

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