Today I was introduced to an expert on light steel construction. They are developing an European project about a method they have to calculate structures. The method is based on European Standards, which have been slowly adopted by the union’s countries.
Light steel construction houses: you can save materials, energy and use common standards for design with standardised components lowering costs and attaining scale economies
Compared to the equivalent American method, the European still needs a lot of dissemination. In the US the method is taught in engineering schools and widely used. In Europe there are still many things to be done, some member countries still have their own standards above the European norm. One example is France, that has a more restrictive norm. By 2010 all European countries will need to adapt their norms to the common one and, in case of collusion, the European one will prevail.
But, what is exactly “the method”? The method is a huge compilation of tables that, given a structure you want to build, let’s you find the right sizes and weights of the materials used without the need of an specific software for simulation.
That means pages and more pages of abacuses.
The right result is here… somewhere.
We were talking about disseminating the method using digital technology. First about an interactive cd, then considering the possibility of building a website to be able to manage all that.
But the more we talked about it, the more it was clear that a huge-book-based method did not have much sense in the digital era. Yes, some academics can still be interested in high resolution and highly decorative abacuses, but the straigtforward user will just want a straightforward result. Even flat screens are useless for a high resolution abacus, but a computer can look that up for you.
In the end, technology will change the way the method works. And different methods must be conceived for the different user profiles: newbies, experts, heavy users, audits… And the digital method will itself provide many insights on how it is used so it can be improved and evolve. There’s a lot to learn from the users.
There’s a chance to make community there. And to blog. And blogging content can be commented, shared, subscribed, searched and syndicated with other content in the light steel construction community.
There’s so much to be done! And a lot to learn too. Hope they count me in for this one. By the way they gave me a couple of steel chopsticks. I’ll try not to bite them.