For most of the 20th century, the time from idea to reality was excruciatingly slow. Innovation proceeded at a snail's pace in every field from pharmaceuticals to automobiles and telecommunications. It took eight to 10 years for a new medicinal, five for a new car model, and decades for telecom innovations to move from brainchild to lab to field. Then came dynamic modeling, CAD-CAM systems, virtual trials, photopolymer and thermoplastic casting systems, and the time from blue print to bench to field-test of every imaginable product changed dramatically, asymptotically and forever. The age of rapid prototyping, of creating and testing workable models at lightning speed, was born.
For the last half-decade, the seductively contemporary language of this new technology has insinuated itself into the training lexicon. Convention sessions and seminars are thoroughly imbued with the language of software and technology. Terms like concurrent development, learning objects, screens, extreme programming, bandwidth, templates, time boxes and system architecture pepper almost every presentation.
Is the appropriation of software and computer technology-sounding language simply that, cosmetic word acquisition for affectation and secondary creditability, or is there an actual technology—a set of unique methods and techniques—behind the word play? Yes. No. And maybe.
Case In Point:
Rapid Prototyping (RP)