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How do we price digital architecture?


Sana Paul, Nishtha Singh, Diksha Garg, Architects, Architecting, Architecture, Architectural, Design, Digital, Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence, AI, Tech, Technology, Algorithmic Thinking, Algorithms, Cybernetics, Computing, Embodiment, Digital Landscape, IOT, Generative Design, Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, AR, VR, Building Information Modelling, Analysis, BIM, Zeyka, Zeyka India

This question must be revisited since we are in the business of selling atoms. Digital sells and digital costs, too. Generating bits, storing them over cloud and transmitting them to each user –– these are some of those costs.


So far as I can see, the telecom provider has nothing to gain by sending fewer bits back and forth between their servers. Telecommunications companies currently charge users per second or per bit. The type of data, or who is accessing it, has no bearing on this charge.


Openness is the basis of the internet. Individuals can connect and exchange information freely. Of course, lawfulness is presupposed.


The internet is actually a network of networks. Each service provider relies on other networks to deliver data. Allowing one to charge differentially for data then, has the potential to harm the entire ‘architecture of the internet.’


Why?


The internet infrastructure is not entirely under the authority of a specific provider. It relies on several networks for this purpose. Charging unevenly for data that is not processed by a single provider will threaten the very structure of the internet. It will change the openness of the internet, as we know it.

Sana Paul, Nishtha Singh, Diksha Garg, Architects, Architecting, Architecture, Architectural, Design, Digital, Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence, AI, Tech, Technology, Algorithmic Thinking, Algorithms, Cybernetics, Computing, Embodiment, Digital Landscape, IOT, Generative Design, Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, AR, VR, Building Information Modelling, Analysis, BIM, Zeyka, Zeyka India

If providers across tiers offer varying prices for different materials on the web, it will be counterproductive to the fundamental principles that have driven the development of the internet.


A significant portion of this development is the concept of net neutrality. If you enjoy the way the internet works currently, you need to know about net neutrality. Hold my hand and let us go!

Sana Paul, Nishtha Singh, Diksha Garg, Architects, Architecting, Architecture, Architectural, Design, Digital, Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence, AI, Tech, Technology, Algorithmic Thinking, Algorithms, Cybernetics, Computing, Embodiment, Digital Landscape, IOT, Generative Design, Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, AR, VR, Building Information Modelling, Analysis, BIM, Zeyka, Zeyka India

Are some bits worth more than others?


As soon as we raise this question, the economics of bandwidth begins to take shape. Facebook's net neutrality campaign too, encourages us to raise this question. Even though Facebook's proposal was geared at establishing the company as the global hegemony of information, they were asking the right question.


What then is this net neutrality? It is the concept that internet service providers like as Airtel, Jio and others, should treat all data passing through their cables and towers equally. That is, they should not be able to put certain data in "fast lanes" while blocking or to discriminate against other data.


In other words, these carriers should not be allowed to prevent you from using Netflix just so you retain your cable package or switch to another video streaming service.


Even so, some bits are worth more than others. It is at this point that things get hazy.

Sana Paul, Nishtha Singh, Diksha Garg, Architects, Architecting, Architecture, Architectural, Design, Digital, Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence, AI, Tech, Technology, Algorithmic Thinking, Algorithms, Cybernetics, Computing, Embodiment, Digital Landscape, IOT, Generative Design, Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, AR, VR, Building Information Modelling, Analysis, BIM, Zeyka, Zeyka India

How do you determine a bit's value? What do we need to factor in? The content? The individuals who use it? The device that stages these bits? The locations where the bits are used? The time? Or step it up. Is there a way to ensure equity if one were to factor in socio-economic indicators?


Even a simple, well-intentioned inquiry like this opens the door to all sorts of ethical concerns around the trade of bits.


We have established that design bits used in AutoCAD are actually more prevalent in games like The Sims, Minecraft, or SimCity. They are essentially for entertainment and in the business of selling bits only and not atoms. The question of whether or not the bits that we create will matter differently to different people –– stares at us again. The answer is yes, again. To maintain equity, we, as a sector, must think outside the box and come up with new ideas for an egalitarian system — even though our industry is arguably the least fair of them all, perhaps, second only to agriculture.


Now, carving a good question is one thing, posing a good solution to it, another.

Sana Paul, Nishtha Singh, Diksha Garg, Architects, Architecting, Architecture, Architectural, Design, Digital, Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence, AI, Tech, Technology, Algorithmic Thinking, Algorithms, Cybernetics, Computing, Embodiment, Digital Landscape, IOT, Generative Design, Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, AR, VR, Building Information Modelling, Analysis, BIM, Zeyka, Zeyka India

In terms of bandwidth needs for real-time information, the medium of discourse is a constraint. The transmission rate should be as fast as feasible. For example, if I share my design with you for editing, it should reach you in a flash. This will incur more data even if the throughput is low. If I am co-creating the design of a house with you online, it is meaningless to be able to get my response faster to you than I can execute it on the screen. At the same time, a delay in transmission is unacceptable. Even a second’s delay can contort the output, throw the project off track, and frustrate people (think the ‘move an image by 1mm in MS Word’ meme, but for your entire design). Thus, the need for this hour would be a higher throughput.


We must first agree on certain functional aspects of the design process. The hierarchies and operational arrangements in which design and execution will take place are key points to consider. Are files passed along an assembly-line setup or does the team collaborate simultaneously? Remote work during the pandemic has shown us the significance of the latter. To determine the most important aspects and pricing of future design software, architectural design businesses must react and respond to these concerns.



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About the Writer

Sana Paul is an undergraduate architecture student and writer at the Jamia Millia Islamia, Delhi, hailing from the cozy streets of Punjab. She has experience working at the India Lost and Found (ILF) by Amit Pasricha, and Rethinking The Future (RTF).


About the Editor

Nishtha Singh is an editor, writer and researcher in the fields of Philosophy of Language, Ethics and Artificial Intelligence (AI). She has trained as an editor at the Seagull School of Publishing, Calcutta and is a graduate of the Department of Philosophy, and the Hansraj College, University of Delhi (DU), India.


About the Illustrator

Diksha Garg is an undergraduate architecture student at the School of Planning and Architecture Bhopal, hailing from Chandigarh. She is an illustrator, graphic designer and writer. She has received a citation for G-Sen Trophy and a Juror's Choice Award for Journalism Trophy by the National Association of Students of Architecture (NASA), India.

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