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Goings on at the Because We Cannery

The Pencil.

I talk to a lot of people about new technology. A lot of designers, that is. And there's one common thing that happens, over and over, and for some reason it's been happening a lot of late:
It's the Pencil Thing.
It's that whenever a designer is challenged by a new way of working, or feeling threatened by technology in general, and are unable for some reason to grasp that change, they hold up a pencil weakly as a shield against these threatening forces and proclaim 'this is the best tool for Architecture yet'.
I hate The Pencil Thing.
Every time someone does it, my heart sinks. It's like I can feel a vast wind-blown casum opening up, a giant hollow sucking space, and it just makes me want to leave, for it's obvious that no one's really trying to grow at that point, and instead wants to stay and rot and die. No one's thinking about how to do something great, they are just wanting things to not change. They want things their way, totally ignoring whether their way leads to a better Building or more value for the client, and they don't really want any changes, thank you very much.
It's even sadder when someone my age does it.
If I was a snarky man, I'd ask them if I could have that pencil, for obviously there must be something different about that pencil, it's a super-pencil, must have belong to Corbu or Frank or the Other Frank, damn that pencil could make me rich! Best tool ever! Builds whole buildings with one fell stroke!
If I was a geeky(er) man, I'd hold up my Wacom stylus, and tell them that it's my pencil, it's just that it writes on my laptop instead of paper.
If I was trying to prove a point, I'd say that I thought that our minds and hands and eyes were the best tools yet for Architecture, and everything else is secondary.
Sometimes they have a point.
I talk to a lot of people about new technology. A lot of designers, that is. And there's one common thing that happens, over and over, and for some reason it's been happening a lot of late:
It's the Pencil Thing.
It's that whenever a designer is challenged by a new way of working, or feeling threatened by technology in general, and are unable for some reason to grasp that change, they hold up a pencil weakly as a shield against these threatening forces and proclaim 'this is the best tool for Architecture yet'.
I hate The Pencil Thing.
Every time someone does it, my heart sinks. It's like I can feel a vast wind-blown casum opening up, a giant hollow sucking space, and it just makes me want to leave, for it's obvious that no one's really trying to grow at that point, and instead wants to stay and rot and die. No one's thinking about how to do something great, they are just wanting things to not change. They want things their way, totally ignoring whether their way leads to a better Building or more value for the client, and they don't really want any changes, thank you very much.
It's even sadder when someone my age does it.
If I was a snarky man, I'd ask them if I could have that pencil, for obviously there must be something different about that pencil, it's a super-pencil, must have belong to Corbu or Frank or the Other Frank, damn that pencil could make me rich! Best tool ever! Builds whole buildings with one fell stroke!
If I was a geeky(er) man, I'd hold up my Wacom stylus, and tell them that it's my pencil, it's just that it writes on my laptop instead of paper.
If I was trying to prove a point, I'd say that I thought that our minds and hands and eyes were the best tools yet for Architecture, and everything else is secondary.
Sometimes they have a point.
Like when a senior partner at a firm I used to work for talked about how they were more profitable when working on paper, prior to AutoCAD, so why would this new Revit thing be any better? That's a focus on Value, and that I can respect, for AutoCAD already made them less profitable, so they want proof that Revit is better than paper. I can see that, for that's a wise assessment of the situation.
But.
But once the pencil is in the air, they aren't listening anymore, for they are looking at your finger when you're trying to point at something, instead of looking at what you're really talking about in the distance.
And once the pencil is in the air, they are deaf to the sound of that huge train of progress that's about to render them obsolete by flattening them.
Once the pencil is in the air, they are no longer thinking about Architecture. No longer thinking about Building. No longer thinking about adding value to the whole Process. No longer trying to make great things.
That's why I hate the Pencil Thing.

Jeffrey McGrew