Social websites like MySpace, Facebook, and Twitter, photo sharing websites like Picasa, music sharing sites like LimeWire, the user written reference site Wikipedia, even the host of this blog Blogger, allow people from all over the world to keep-in-touch and share ideas and content. They also allow strangers to learn more about you and views (for better or worse.)
It seems that there is a whole group of people using the Internet for the free and unfettered sharing of information. I used to think that this group of people all fit into a specific generational constraint, however, this group is populated by folks of all ages and backgrounds (much to the chagrin of the recent college grads who finds their boss has a Facebook page and has invited them to be their friend.) One thing that they do seem to have in common is either a belief that there is no such thing as proprietary property (Hey Man, how can someone OWN an IDEA?) or they have a true desire to share what they know and produce (I think that it's more of the later.)
What does this have to do with BIM? Everything! Getting the right information to the right people at the right time is KEY to using BIM in integrated practice. And applications similar to the popular Web 2.o apps listed above will help get that information where it needs to be. As integrated practice matures we will see more and more web based authoring, sharing, markup and archiving of BIM. (I posted about Project Freewheel not long ago.) One that has been around awhile and at first glance has a WHOLE LOT to offer is Onuma Planning System (OPS.) I hope to write more about Onuma, their philosophy, and their products in a future post.
As the concepts of BIM, VDC and IPD mature and take hold in the AEC/O business a major stumbling block has been how to share information while retaining rights to intellectual property and all the while not increasing your liability. I know that the American Institute of Architects (AIA) has put language in some of their contracts to help with these concerns, but if they are like most AIA documents they probably favor the Architect when there are contractual issues. Admittedly, I haven't read them yet, but I have high hopes for C195™–2008 Standard Form of Single Purpose Entity Agreement for Integrated Project Delivery.
Currently a lot of mainstream folks are already sharing their BIM ideas, processes and content on Community Forums like AUGI, Revit City and Bim Forum. I know that they have been a huge help to ME in my BIM pursuits. But, I think that in the near future we will see some major changes in the way that information is shared in the AEC/O business. While their isn't one generation who has a monopoly on using the Internet, their IS a generation that hasn't known a world WITHOUT an Internet and their are even young people who have never cracked an encyclopedia to write a report. They are used to the idea that free information is all around them and all they have to do is filter out the garbage (Caveat Emptor when it comes to free Revit content that's for sure. But that would make a long post even longer.) As this generation matures and takes positions of responsibility in the AEC/O business, I foresee a time when ideas and information are FREELY shared across disciplines without thought for who will make money on the idea or who will claim full liability. I know this isn't the way that we function today. I know that current practices don't support this. But I also know that there will be a day when Owners EXPECT that everyone on their team will be working in their best interest to design, build, and maintain their properties. And in exchange for the team keeping this objective in mind the Owner will share risks AND rewards with whole team. That's BIM. That's Integrated Practice. That's Integrated Project Delivery. That's the future.