At Z Shift we spend quite a bit of time thinking about (and working on) the future of simulation. We have what we hope are some interesting insights in this domain that we’ll roll out in some form (and forum) over the coming months and years. In the meantime, I’ll write openly here about pieces of what is a much larger puzzle.
One of those pieces is the question of tools versus content. I strongly believe that we — in concert with our machines — will be spending much more time simulating in the future. This implies radically greater access to simulations, and it’s difficult for me to imagine such access being possible without making it far easier for users to create their own simulations. And this raises the question of tools versus content.
If we want to make simulations much easier to create, is the key in having better tools or is it in having more ready-made content? In other words, are the tools that we have today — primitive as they may be — good enough to enable highly motivated content creators to build a critical mass of content that less-technical users can weave into their simulations? Alternately, must we make it possible for those less-technical users to not only incorporate and adapt existing content but to create their own? If the former, then the focus should be on standards, on interchange, and on simpler assembly-style applications. If the latter, then the focus should be on creating simulation tools that bring the power of complex simulations to virtually anyone.
If we want to make simulations much easier to create, is the key in having better tools or is it in having more ready-made content?
As I sit here today, my hunch is that the answer lies somewhere between the two, and this seems an unsatisfyingly indecisive way of looking at things. The task of bringing the benefits of simulation to humanity is going to be large in scope no matter what; saying that we have to do twice as much just makes it that much more difficult and pushes the goal even farther into the future.