[e2e] the evolution of deployability

Fred Baker fred at cisco.com
Tue Dec 17 10:33:41 PST 2002

At 11:09 AM 12/4/2002 -0500, Adrian Lahanas wrote:
>In US it was impossible to change inches and yards, once they were deployed,
>into centimeters and meters.
>In US it was impossible to change ounces or pounds into grams and kilograms.
>In US it was impossible to change from Fahrenheight to Celsius

In the US, in certain industries and systems, we *are* metric. Automotive 
systems are a mixture of the two, sometimes mixed on the same vehicle. It 
is the rustbelt and the cookbooks that are English.

I lived in Toronto during its switchover. The switchover took five years. 
Every month, they picked a set of things to change and changed them, 
sometimes (distance signs on highways for example) with a preparatory 
period in which both systems were displayed. There was no problem that I 
could see; we actually didn't notice it was going on until my wife went one 
day to buy Heath Bars for a Heath Bar Cake, and found that they had *just* 
sold the last bar measured with English units - she called me at work to 
determine what the conversion from ounces to grams was.

It takes a certain amount of will-power, a greater amount of will-power 
than the wont-power built into the system. Getting the US to do something 
decisive is a little like asking the IETF to be decisive.

It can still be done in the US, if the wimps will kindly get out of the 
way, but folks need to show a return on the investment, and that hasn't 
been demonstrated. So the wimps continue to win.

>In US it was impossible to change from 120 Volt to 220 Volt.

Did anyone try? The argument for upping the volts and downing the amps is 
essentially one of distribution. If you have a distribution system that 
works, it doesn't particularly matter what gets piped into houses.

>In US it was impossible to change big cars into small cars.

That is principally a market question. During the 1980's we did in fact 
nearly put Detroit six feet under by buying small cars, which came from 
Japan and Europe. Detroit finally figured out that this is what was 
selling, and wrote contracts with Japanese manufacturers to co-produce them 
(for example, the Toyolet, made in Japan and assembled in California). 
People have the money to buy larger cars, the space to park them, and the 
desire to do so. It now makes big cars and medium sized cars, and has made 
a market of SUVs.

>In US it was impossible to change steam engines into fast electric trains.

Again, did anyone try? The cost of putting in a railroad where you don't 
have one is huge, and it barely exists for passenger use anywhere except 
the eastern seaboard, where the rail systems in New Jersey majorly get in 
the way of its effectiveness. We had a reasonable system once, but it was 
bought up and ripped out by oil companies in the 1920-1940's, and has 
largely been economically superceded by air travel.

But, as has been noted, we stopped using steam engines a *long* time ago. 
What we don't have is MagLev etc.

>It's true that US pioneered in building the Internet without a previous 
>experience and new lessons were learned while building it. But should the 
>rest of the world, if there is a will, be restricted till US decides to 
>change it's already deployed cables, routers and software?

No. It should go ahead and switch, and it is doing so. The US will discover 
that it has to catch up, and that will be OK.

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