It is with increasing amusement that I peruse the subject lines of emails containing the acronym BIM. Many years ago I coined the acronym bimrocks (block-in-matrix rocks). The bim bit has prompted gleeful scribbles over the years, what with bimbo and bimba. The word “bimrocks” is my attempt to avoid writing a lot of odd, scary geology words- well, odd and scary to engineers. But in the meantime Civil Engineers were also using a once little-known acronym: BIM – “Building Information Modelling” which is likely a scary term to geologists. Actually, it is a bit scary to engineers too, since the term envelopes a sophisticated, software-intensive field of building design. Although the BIM acronym has been around for over 30 years, I don’t know if folk in the BIM field calls themselves bimbos. But they seem to enjoy bim and rocks: there is a blog called Bim on the Rocks.
It so happens that technical terms are often independently coined but still folk get irate when they discover other people using them. For example, a few years ago the GIS (Geographic Information Systems) community started to use the word “geotechnology”. That word is also used in my professional community of geotechnical engineering. There was a bit of huffing and puffing about that apparent buccaneering. Except it most likely was not theft – just independent and creative acronyming.
We geotechnical engineers are less sensitive now because many of us have started to call ourselves “geoengineers”. Indeed, there are websites and consulting groups and University Departments calling themselves Geoengineers.
But just as we geotechnical engineers start to get used to the idea that we are practicising geoengineering, we have the opportunity to huff some more. “Geoengineering” is now increasingly being used in the context of engineered interventions to climate change. I bet that Geoengineering in the context of sexy BIG ideas becomes better known by layfolk than our soils engineering type of Geoengineering.
I shall not huff. I now use a new word: I am a geopractitioner. See my new website of the same name…