Even after having lived in NYC for over 8 years now, I am still struggling with the outdated measurement system on this side of the atlantic. Thank god I don’t work here as an architect, I wonder what those buildings would look like. I am sure I’d be able to build a floor as high as the half floor in the “Being John Malchovic” movie. Ha! Core77 shows a “Not Metric Map” of the world. I am stunned that the US is not the last one standing on this one.
What’s outdated about it? It works. It works well. Yes, it’s not the international standard, and there is a lot that should be said with regards to that, but outdated is the wrong assessment: it’s just different.
Jun 22nd, 2007 / 10:13 am
It is not outdated. I have seen no problems with it at all. Just because it is not the international standard, does not make it any less. I agree, choose a different word.
Jun 22nd, 2007 / 3:03 pm
I hate the US Metric! it is very difficult to learn for beginners.
Jun 22nd, 2007 / 5:35 pm
There’s a lot said about the death of different languages, but nothing about the death of ways of measuring things. Why is it so bad that some people should measure things in different ways. Why do people want to kill it off? Does it offend their sense of tidyness?
I am depressed by the flat, featureless plains of counting in tens. It is unpoetic and unimaginative.
Far from killing off traditional measures, I hope they are revived and new ways of counting and measuring are created.
Perhaps it could lead to new and more inventive and imaginative ways of thinking. I hope one day we are freed from the tyranny of the ten.
Jun 22nd, 2007 / 8:07 pm
Metric units are far more elegant and certainly easier to learn and use. It isn’t more modern but it may well be better.
Jun 22nd, 2007 / 10:13 pm
How exactly are metric units “far more elegant”? Personally, I think metric units are harder to learn and use.
It is all subjective and depends on what you grew up with.
Jun 23rd, 2007 / 2:44 am
The metric system really is the way to go. It’s not about killing diversity or even the relativity of easyness. It’s about Standards (with a capitol S). A language is not a stardard! A mesurement system is. Imagine a world without an agreed upon timescale. Why not have a 30-hour cyclus instead of a 24-houe in some countries where the sun shines longer hours each day?
Imagine the web without a default set of standards – and I’m not refering to browser compatibilty. Imagine a www without ip-addresses or http.
It’s simply easier to agree on a wolrd wide standard. I’m not saying the metric system is the best ever – but it’s superior to the foot/mile-system by simple mathematical simplification. It’s notable that the medical world’s adopted a the metric system for that same reason.
Jun 23rd, 2007 / 10:25 am
Sorry, but doesn’t england use the imperial system as well?
Jun 23rd, 2007 / 3:27 pm
The ISO metric system isn’t a ‘standard’. It’s simply a way of measuring a standard.
A CD is a standard. A marathon is a standard. But a CD is 12cm wide, *or* 4 1/2″ inches, while a marathon is 26 miles, 385 yards *or* 42.194988 kilometres.
It’s interesting that Tina’s post has created a chain of replies. That’s because little is spoken or discussed elsewhere about measurements. What’s needed is a blog about this issue. I might just start one!
I’m a fan of ‘imperial’ measures, mainly for poetic, cultural and philosophical reasons. I’m not a fan on conformity, which I don’t think helps free thought.
Incidentally, while the UK still uses ‘Imperial measures’ extensively (including on road signs and almost everywhere in non-business life), the US does NOT use them – it uses the ‘Customary’ system.
The two systems are quite similar, but not identical (e.g. a US pint is 16oz, an Imperial pint is 20oz)
But ultimately, you’ll find in me a hatred of the dullness and unimaginative unpoetic character of ISO metric.
It’s ironic, isn’t it, that the USA is accused of cultural imperialism and world government, but it’s now almost the only country keeping alive historical weights and measures that stretch back to history, and not succumbing to the ‘world sport’ of soccer.
Good for the USA! The last refuge from world government.
Jun 23rd, 2007 / 5:19 pm
You can obtain integral fractions better in the customary system: for example, a foot can be divided by 2, 3, 4, or 6 and the result is still an integral number of inches. ISO units can only be divided by 2 or 5 to yield an integer result. Anybody for a 333.3333… mL can of soda?
I find it interesting that boosters of the imposed ISO system don’t follow through on their multiple-of-ten conviction. Since the second is the standard unit of time, why don’t we see advocates for a “more rational” system of timekeeping based on dekaseconds, hectoseconds, and kiloseconds?
Those antiquated minutes and hours have got to go! Who cares if they are divisible by 3 or 4, and they actually match up to the earth’s rotation?
Jun 24th, 2007 / 1:13 am
As an Englishman of the old school – not the ‘tally-ho’ school but ‘the pre-decimalisation’ school – I can tell you I miss feet and inches and yards and bushels and quarts and pecks and furlongs.
They had history – I cared about them.
And ’12’ can be divided by 1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and 6 and 12
Whereas ’10’ can be divided by 1 and 5 and 10 – and that is it. And who likes 5 anyway – it doesn’t go anywhere.
So I vote for a change the ‘other’ way – to base 12 for everything. All we need is a couple of squiggles to represent 10 and 11 and we are home and dry. Then we can really get motoring with numbers.
Jun 25th, 2007 / 1:55 am
Er, we still use non-metric here in England. A court case has recently been won by retailers who wanted to display in Kilos AND Pounds and ounces.
When my daughter was born a few months ago, her weight was given as 7lb15oz. I think it was 3.6Kg for all you ‘metrophiles’ out there. I’m glad I understand both – some people seem to struggle having read these comments!
Jun 28th, 2007 / 12:24 pm
i have a question why is sod a sold in the liters and milk sold in gallons? if u have the anwser please blog ty
Sep 5th, 2007 / 8:09 pm
I’m a US architect that does work both in the US and also overseas. Let me tell you: Metric is SO much better than Imperial. Simple, straightforward, decimal-based system. Forget adding mixed fractions and converting between inches and feet. Which math problem would you rather do: 12′ 6-3/16″ + 9′ 7-1/4″ = x, OR 4.506m + 3.689m = x No contest in my book! :)
Metric is not just easier for measurements related to length, area, etc., but for measuring food, too! Grams and liters. Not tsp, Tbsp, 1/8 cup, 1/4 cup, 1/3 cup, quarts, gallons. Grams or liters. Or even just grams. One measurement. By weight so you know how much you’re actually getting. (How much is “one cup” of spinach leaves, anyway? How tightly packed?) When I measure food I almost always try to use grams if available.
As the token architect, I heartily agree that we should go to metric.
Aug 20th, 2008 / 7:22 pm
“Why do people want to kill it off? Does it offend their sense of tidyness?”
It offends my wallet, having to buy a set of Metric AND Imperial tools.
Feb 5th, 2009 / 7:19 pm