The New York Times

The Joy of Standards

LIFE IS A LOT EASIER WHEN YOU CAN PLUG IN TO ANY SOCKET.

Our modern existence depends on things we can take for granted. Cars run on gas from any gas station, the plugs for electrical devices fit into any socket, and smartphones connect to anything equipped with Bluetooth. All of these conveniences depend on technical standards, the silent and often forgotten foundations of technological societies.

The objects that surround us were designed to comply with standards. Consider the humble 8-by-16-inch concrete block, the specifications of which are defined in the Masonry Society’s “Building Code Requirements and Specification for Masonry Structures.”

This book distills centuries of knowledge about the size and thickness of blocks, seismic design requirements and the use of materials like concrete, glass

This article originally appeared in .

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