Three Ways a Content Standard is Like a Highway. Number TWO will Leave You FLOORED!

I’ve always rolled my eyes at the click-bait titles so many articles these days have, but I’ve never been able to fit one in to a blog post of my own, so there it is.

In all seriousness, this week I’ve been working on a particular content library, and I’m working on two different versions of it, which are being used in two different countries. Naturally, one of them is Imperial (United States) and one of them is Metric (the entire rest of the world). Certainly, the differences are more than just switching software units: With different units come different sized materials from suppliers, different standards and design guidelines, and inherently: Different dimensions in regulatory codes and requirements.

Yesterday, while I was spacing out because I went cross-eyed fighting with constraints, Federico Negro tweeted about an automobile intersection design I had personally never encountered before, although it seems to have been around longer than I have (in France): The Diverging Diamond Interchange.


The concept may look over complex on the surface, but it’s actually pretty basic: It stipulates that while we assume hazardous left turns (in the USA) or right turns (in Australia, or New Zealand, or elsewhere) are an inherent part of driving, it’s a problem brought about by the alignment we choose as the design for the intersection. If we are on the right side of the road for part of the intersection, and the left part of the road for the other half of the intersection, all four directions of traffic can merge on to all three of the remaining directions of traffic, without ever needing to cross oncoming traffic, except at a full Green Light.

While conversing about it on Twitter, I remembered one day in Studio (after almost getting T boned in my tiny 1997 Chevrolet Cavalier) doodling a hypothetical intersection, wondering how many over and underpasses it would take for all intersections to be “stopless and protected.” (As someone cleverly pointed out on twitter, other countries have managed to get around this somewhat, with Roundabouts. I would fear for my life if Texas drivers had to use roundabouts, but I concede they are a better design).

What does this have to do with Building Content? Just about everything. Our Site Plans are oriented backwards from countries that drive on the other side of the road, as we tend to show vehicular paths in directions that have them cross traffic the least (fast food drive-thru’s are backwards, for instance). This McDonalds in the UK seems to be okay with cars headed in that direction, but I tried it once in the USA: all you get is a nice conversation with a police man, and no happy meal. In my defense, only the passenger was eating. And I didn’t want to touch that stuff.  Nasty.


And lastly, I was recounting a lecture I gave at #RTCAUS 2014, in Melbourne. In that class (on Classical Jeffersonian Architecture in Revit) I was lamenting about a problem that exists, if you have to detail “Standard Sized Brick Masonry Units.”  What I forgot (while giving the lecture) is those are only standard brick sizes in AMERICA, and so the entire 3-minute long diatribe on the ridiculousness of the brick sizes (and in having to trick Revit in to dividing eight inches by three evenly) was somewhat lost on the audience. They were more amused at my confusion at why they didn’t understand the problem. =)

10-14-2013 2-28-21 PM-Brick Hatch

To be sure, it’s a computer/software issue… But at the core of it, it is dividing eight inches in to three equal parts makes Revit… unhappy. Obviously, we all have ways that we work around it, which you see here. But, what I’m getting at is it’s amusing to me that so many of us are working around problems that have already been solved before, even if they were solved in other parts of the world.

As I’ve mentioned on this blog before, one thing we WON’T do much of at the Building Content Summit, is talk about very specific actual standards, debating the merits or the pros and cons. But what we WILL do, is talk about value and how we align common goals for all of the parties represented, to start solving these problems. And heck, if some members of the #BCS50 in attendance are representing other parts of the world, where they have solved some of the seemingly senseless problems we face in the United States, I’m all for that. As Albert Einstein said: we cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them. One of my favorite things about BCS is hashing out the complexities of content and the Building Content Issues, with others who are approaching the same issues from a different perspective. Sometimes a different point of view is all you need to innovate yourself out of the current situation.

Will you be joining us at the Building Content Summit? If you haven’t checked out the schedule, it’s posted here on the BCS site. Two full days of Perspectives and Synapse Sessions, plus the Engine Room where I will be hanging out turning wrenches (or mice), given the chance….. =). And the Gala Dinner on Tuesday Night, where we will be introducing the #BCS50: 50 thought leaders and innovators who are doing great things for the Content Ecosystem.

If you aren’t registered, get in on this!!! Register here! Hope to see you there.




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