We confess that we haven't read Sutherland Lyall's column for many a year so maybe we shouldn't have been surprised, on reading his review of the National Green Specification (NGS) website - www. greenspec. co. uk (AJ 24.6.04) - by his metamorphosis into a grumpy old man.
Grumpy old men suffer from a number of ailments as they approach their twilight years.
One such ailment is the 'Unmovable Certainties Syndrome'. This condition is characterised by views originating in youth that pass unreformed into the foundations of the sufferer's worldview in later life. In his critique of the GreenSpec site, Lyall betrays more than just one of these views (not untypical of the 'me' generation) which need challenging:
l'Green = 'alternative'.'
Despite the evidence of the Green ethos now embedded in mainstream government policy, Lyall wants to continue believing that the Green movement remains the province of sanctimonious, sandal-wearing, yogurt-knitting hippies living in tepee estates in North Wales. All very funny 30 years ago, but maybe a bit tired and inappropriate now.
l'We must never be bored.'
There can't be many of us who've experienced an adrenalin rush while writing a specification.We recognise that people might have something more 'fun' to do with their lives and so we've designed GreenSpec for users to get in and out of as quickly as possible - hence the simplicity. We could, of course, provide links to the more exciting areas of the Internet, but I think most of us know where they are anyway, don't we?
l'Every problem can be solved by technology and experts.'
Try as we might to make GreenSpec easily accessible and useful, we still haven't managed to persuade a search engine to distinguish between an 'idea' and a 'thing', and somehow I don't think even a 'rocket scientist' would be useful in this respect. Maybe sometimes we have to understand that computers and humans aren't the same. Nonetheless, we have included a familiar Googletype search that produces Google-type results if the content is on the site; which brings us on to:
l'I want everything and I want it now.'
In the grown-ups' world, economics invariably get in the way of instant wish fulfillment.
Like most large projects, this is also true of GreenSpec.
Despite the founders pouring huge amounts of their own funds and time into the project, it isn't going to be finished anytime now.
Maybe if grumpy old men can stop throwing their toys out of their prams, pluck their heads from the sand, wake up to the importance of driving the construction industry towards sustainability and lend a hand, (or even an article on bamboo) we might - just might - be able to leave the world in a livable state. That surely is a belief worth hanging on to.
Sandy Patience and Brian Murphy, NGS