I am a Bad Monkey. So is Julien. And Andreas. And Konrad, Dimitar, Adam, Brian and Marcello. Even Huyn is one although it’s hard to tell. We have a webpage. It’s at badmonkeys.net and is as volatile as we are.
I like being a Bad Monkey. I like having other Bad Monkeys watching my back. They do, you know. Every time I try to fuck up something in Dynamo, they pull me out of the failure and guide me on the right track. Every time I n00b around in Grasshopper, Konrad stretches his long arms over The Atlantic and points me in the right direction. Every time I challenge my geometry skills in Dynamo, Dimitar reaches out from his tree in Singapore and rains his magic on me. And every goddamn week when I try to do any type of generic computation or list manipulation, The Machine Himself Dynamo Grand Master Bad Monkey Andreas Dieckmann descends from the skies with his cape and shy smile to rescue me from certain doom.
One dark and slow morning a while ago Aleksandra came over to my desk and asked about the best way to number more than 600 rooms in the project we were working on. The coffee was still warm, and I already sensed it was going to be a good day. The way room numbering sequencing worked in France, where our project was located, related to both Level, Department and Grid location. That meant a room on Level 3, with Department ID 9 and located as the second room of that department between Grids 3 and 4 (read left-right, top-bottom) would receive the Room Number 3903-02. After some thinking I told Aleksandra that this could be automated with Dynamo and I could do it. My coffee hadn’t started cooling before I began worrying about my response. Even though all the data I needed was available in the Revit database, I had no clue how to do it. My first two tests were promising, but by the time I got around to iteration three and four I started thinking that I had to write each piece of data to temporary parameters, and then pull the temporary data from Revit and combine them in Dynamo to write one Room Number parameter.
Just after the morning with Aleksandra, I flew to Budapest to meet Monkeys Julien and Andreas. First thing they said when I laid my stress upon them was “Hell no, do this in a smart way by sorting all that data automatically”. “Okay….” I responded, nervously scratching hair that started to fall off.
The following week, less than 3 days before deadline, I woke up to a message that brought the biggest smile to my face and all my hair back. “Check your email. Andreas.” I rushed to work, grabbed a new coffee, opened his Dynamo script, copied the parts I was missing, ran the definition and watched in confused disbelief as all the hundreds of rooms got perfectly numbered according to all possible French rules. By that time Aleksandra had been putting her impressive Revit skills to better use on important design tasks, and I had all day to work on the facade, where I used Konrad’s free software for Grasshopper data linking and Julien’s free software for cutting thousands of Nested Families.
Download Andreas’ script if you want to try for yourself: RoomNumberingByLevelGridAndYPosition
The Bad Monkeys made a Snøhetta design much better. They made an owner’s building more complete. And they helped Snøhetta employees, including me, sleep at night. For free, during their spare time.
I think the Bad Monkeys are so awesome that I am embarrassed to say it. I’m thinking “Am I exaggerating how awesome what we are doing is?” I don’t think so.
Last spring Konrad sent me a book. He wanted me to read Adam Grant’s ‘Give and Take – Why Helping Others Drives Our Success’ after he saw a blog post I wrote about my former boss Christine on how we shared knowledge and content when we worked together. The book explains with astonishing examples and scientific evidence how people throughout history has benefited from helping others, with no or little regard for their own success or personal gain. After finishing the book, I felt more confident than ever that the future of the world holds great promise for all the beautiful people who help each other every day. The world will be shaped by the givers, not the takers.
I read another book last year, The Martian by Andy Weir. (Thanks Ian Keough and Matt Jezyk!) Hopefully without spoiling the story for anyone who has not read it or seen Matt Damon on screen, here’s a beautiful excerpt for the final pages:
“If a hiker gets lost in the mountains, people will coordinate a search. If a train crashes, people will line up to give blood. If an earthquake levels a city, people all over the world will send emergency supplies. This is so fundamentally human that it’s found in every culture without exception. Yes, there are assholes who just don’t care, but they’re massively outnumbered by the people who do.”
It’s pompous, I know. But it gave me goosebumps. Our group of monkeys grew from a community of people who enjoy helping others. I feel that we are a small part of a new connected world where people help each other regardless of business, discipline, department, company, country, culture or continent. Maybe we will realize that the old way of thinking about company knowledge as a secret asset that has to be safe guarded, hidden and protected will give way to an idea that every company, employee and client will prosper if we all help each other a little more.
Here’s a huge THANK YOU to the Bad Monkeys for being awesome. You guys rock.