Be Careful What You Wish For

When I finally made up my mind to pursue making a documentary on the history of the metric system in the United States, I had a sense there was an underlying current of interest. After all, the subject of using the metric system in this country pretty much died when we disbanded the U.S. Metric Board way back in 1982, but I also knew there were other baby boomers who were told it was coming (and became familiar with it in school) but were never quite sure what happened after that.

This 30 years of neglect has meant that there was been no crystallization point for this interest so it’s been left to individuals who feel strongly about it to do what they can in ways that make sense to them. I don’t know that I can become the rallying point for a pro-metric movement, but I sure as heck want to try to raise awareness of this issue within a wider audience and try to move it forward with what skills I have.

Since I started researching, tweeting and blogging, I’ve also become more aware of some of these 21st-century metric pioneers. One person who has been a source of information and inspiration is the Metric Maven ( Even though we don’t always see eye-to-eye, at least we’re moving in the same direction. I’ll list some of the other folks in upcoming posts but, right now, I want to turn my attention to something that happened this week before I bore you to death. (Too late?)

I was in the process of updating someone on the project via email when I saw that I gotten 77 hits THAT DAY. (I had previously gotten 84 for the week, and I thought THAT was real progress.) By the time I went to bed the number was 150 and when I woke up the next morning, it was 250. The activity was centered on a post I had written a couple of weeks ago on “Why I like the metric system.” There was also a comment where someone had taken exception to something I had written. I went ahead and approved the comment for posting before I went to work for the day. (You can look at the comments on that page if you are interested in this exchange.)

Apparently, someone under the moniker Metrication  ( had posted the above-mentioned blog on Reddit (, and it was driving people to this site. By the time the blog reset itself to zero that evening, I had received 463 hits. I received another 50 or so the next day. (Totally skewed the scale for my stats, I can tell you [see below]. Everything else looks puny now, not that I’m complaining.)

Current statistics by week

What this tells me is that people are interested in this subject or my blog wouldn’t have gotten all that attention. And that was for a fairly bland essay. Just imagine what this subject might attract with something that’s actually interesting! It is my sincere hope that over time, and through the documentary, that I’ll have some more interesting things to say. I hope you’ll stay tuned.

So, thanks Metrication for helping confirm that people are interested in my subject matter so the next time a hit a stumbling block, I’ll know I need to power through it to tell what I consider a profoundly interesting and important story.

In related news, I have a meeting on Friday with the person who I hope will be doing my animation. It’s critical to the piece but expensive. How else can I adequately convey that a meter was designed to be 1/10,000,000 of the distance between the North Pole and the equator? A “talking head”? My mantra has always been: “Talking heads are boring.” After more than a couple of seconds, people need to see something else even as the interviewees continue to speak. In some cases, it’s going to be animation to visually illustrate the point they’re verbally making.

They’re really are times when you get what you pay for.


One thought on “Be Careful What You Wish For

  1. The International System of Units (SI) transcends human-scale measurement limits by way of prefixes to base units, allowing very small and very large measurements using more convenient numbers so we no longer have to talk about billions, trillions, quadrillions and so on, for example, ten trillion kilometers (10 000 000 000 000 km) = 10 petameters (10 Pm). Another problem arises when using numbers like trillion, because the long scales and short scales are two of several different large-number naming systems used throughout the world for integer powers of ten. Many countries, including most in continental Europe, use the long scale whereas most English-speaking countries and Arabic-speaking countries use the short scale, so trillion means different things in different countries. Using proper metric units eliminates potential errors. For example: one light year [traditional] equals a little less than nine and a half petameters (9.454 254 955 5 Pm to be exact). I love and

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s