When I was a kid I remember in grade school we used to get this slick monthly newsletter about all the cool futuristic stuff that was going to happen. I remember reading about how the United States was going to adopt the Metric System for measurement (which made me a little more attentive when we studied metric measurement). Adopting a new way of measurement was going to be so important that it just had to happen. At least that was the way the article presented it. One thing the article didn’t discuss: how we would learn to actually estimate things in metric terms, which weren’t as familiar to us as the inches/feet/yards system that was already in place. But, hey, that was a small matter. I was sure that someone had taken this into consideration before pronouncing that we would adopt the new system.
Turns out that the ‘human-factor’ wasn’t a small matter, and maybe no one took that into consideration. And it looks like the United States is not going to adopt the Metric system, at least not anytime soon. Looks like making lots of people adopt a whole new system of measurement (even if it is a fantastic idea) is just too hard.
It’s not hard for one person to do it, though. When I moved to Panama I suddenly found myself among people who spoke in Metric terms and so I learned to make my estimates in meters and kilometers. Anyway, like I said, this works for one or two people, but it won’t work for the country as a whole.
Now, having said that, I’d like to propose that the government (through whatever ‘standards body’ they’d appoint) decree that numeric keyboards (the ones that have the first 9 numerals grouped in rows of 3) all be the same. Why is it that some numeric keypads have the 1-2-3 at the top of the row, and others have the 7-8-9 grouped together at the top? Let’s at least be consistent. Clearly, it would be desirable for people to be able to use any numeric keypad without first having to figure out the layout (can you imagine if the arrangement of the alphabet on keyboards was non-standard?).
If we can’t even impose standards to make the commonly used numeric keypad conform to a consistent design, then what chance do we have to adopt the Metric system? Zero, none, nada, bupkis…