I enjoy doing things with my hands because, besides the satisfaction of producing something tangible, I usually enter a sort of a Zen meditative state while doing so. And my observations about the process many times transcend the task at hand.
It occurred to me while measuring and cutting pieces of molding. In a way, measurement devices could have been one of the first virtual reality or telepresence devices. I was doing the measuring and then the cutting a mere few yards (or meters, for the metric folks) away, but -given some communication means- there is no limitation on how far this process could have been done. In essence, if a “public” measurement device is shared, one individual can measure something at one site, and this same length can be reproduced on the other side of the globe. Exactly.
Anyone could have done this utilizing their own system. They could come up with their own measuring tape with lines on it, ship an exact copy from, let’s say, Mexico City to New York, and someone in Mexico can measure something, communicate the measurement to someone in New York who can then, in turn, cut something and ship it. The part will fit exactly once it arrives in Mexico. Pretty neat.
Things become even better when the measurement system turns into a standard, and we don’t even have to ship the measurement device. We can even work with two, or many other people together.
This is how it all starts. Come up with a “language” for communicating ideas, share it, use it, standardize it.