The Chat About Barbie and Style

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I get an all too familiar call this week from the principal of a civil and survey firm about our Production Solution products.

“We need a template for AutoCAD Civil 3D that supports National Standards. I don’t get what the difference is between your products?”

I ask if he has a young daughter. The search for some shared context is critical. He does. I explain that it’s really simple. You can get Barbie, the Barbie, Ken, and Friends Kit, or the entire Malibu Barbie House and accessary collection just in time for Christmas. He laughs of course. He’s probably a bit confused and annoyed by my answer. AutoCAD Civil 3D does that to people.

Everyone knows Barbie. She's a SYMBOL. What Barbie represents is something everyone has something to say about.

The manifold human social factors aside, Barbie is all about Style, Preference, and our shared Communication. This is powerful, emotional stuff. That means we’d better be a bit rational about what’s going on.

AutoCAD Civil 3D is Barbie

I must ask the dangerous question, “What does a point look like?
If you’re an old school CAD surveyor you expect a point to display exactly this way not that way. He knows and likes Barbie in her swinsuit – he doesn’t want a topless point. The very idea is somehow morally offensive.

Civil 3D forces us to understand and manage the important difference between FORM and STYLE with new PROCESSES.

We agree he needs to SEE what he’s getting. He trots off to get a Templates Only for AutoCAD Civil 3D 2015 from the website. That includes our infamous Corridors drawing featured in the videos here. I’m confident he’ll be happy and his firm will soon employ InstantOn and probably Jump Kit. You can’t really beat the value of the Civil 3D Templates and the depth of Civil 3D Style that’s built in.

A Way to Train the Brain

Barbie is a good Civil 3D Style and Set training metaphor. She can help communicate Styles and Sets methodology to almost anyone. The “Barbie” word makes the concept stick in people’s heads. I want my Profile View to look this way now, but I must print it that way tomorrow. Something like that happens all the time in our workdays, doesn’t it? The Barbie wardrobe metaphor works, even if employing Barbie in good fun may not be "politically correct" for reasons I'm not at a loss to explain.

Need Beach Barbie or Prom Night Barbie?

We wrap the doll in a different Style look. We get to determine the Look of the Look. Perhaps there's "no accounting for taste" except what your friends and coworkers think today. The trouble is that internal approach might be a tad myopic and a confining Standard in a model-based working world? We think consistent representations based on agreed on National Standards reduces plan set interpretation problems. Seems the powers that be mostly agree in principal.

There’s no rocket science required, but designed in engineering is necessary.

What you do put on your Barbie communicates partly what you know, partly what you can afford to do, and your design Sense and Sensibility. Please, don't get me wrong – We consider all of these factors to be important. Hence Why there are differences of quantity and purpose in our lineup of products.

Barbie is the Best Selling Toy of All Time for a lot of human reasons - first and foremost because the FORM doesn't care about the STYLE put on it. AutoCAD is where it’s at in the marketplace for similar reasons.

Style is a Form of Freedom

Our iconic AutoCAD Boy Toy will only be replaced by what can change both the STYLE and the FORM together. That's only possible via new and innovative tools and PROCESSES that people must learn how to employ. You know that chicken and egg problem. To do it, you have to know how to do it.

Rethink CAD Standards?

I talk about CAD Standards and sit in Standards meetings a bit. I spend lots of time in the AutoCAD Civil 3D nitty-gritty too - Way too much time. I know the intricate and interrelated details are important to a successful and productive execution.

People often talk about and focus only an old FORM of the Barbie. "This always looked like that." Often people won't ask, "Why does it look like that?" Silly me. I do. I work in a world with more viable choice.

They won't ask, "What are we communicating to whom and Why?" We're human. In the heat of the moment we forget that our immediate perspective and concept is not always the Most Important Thing.
You work in civil engineering. You do QAQC. You know it is easy to fall victim to our own contempt of the familiar.

Practical Matters of Style

Do you still want to construct new Barbie clothes by hand? Do you do that because you expect that's what everyone else is doing? Do you do that because that's what you always did before? Of course.

Our personal tradecraft, craftsmanship, and customization skills are important. These make us valuable, but you don't want be a buggy builder or a wheelwright in a new age of automobiles either.

Engineering and building stuff is about FORM, STYLE, and PROCESS all working together with real people in the real world all at once. From my humble perspective that is …

The Art of Work

Our Production Solution products make the potentials of Style in AutoCAD Civil 3D real.
You can too in more ways than one.