Technology

At The Smallest Scale

Engineers in general spend a lot of time modeling and organizing reality in design. Looking only at structural engineers, a large difference between those who design new buildings and those of us who work with existing buildings is the starting point of the models. New-building analysis and design typically starts with an architectural concept, and …

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And On The Fourth Hand…

I like unposed old pictures, because they give you a window into people’s thinking in the past. They also, if you let them, can give you a window into your thinking now. We don’t make fewer assumptions than people in the past did, just different ones. That’s the Monday (the title has the day) washing …

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Against Standardization

I’ve spent almost a week arguing in favor of standardization, and I want to end by arguing against it. All of the arguments I’ve made in favor still hold, it’s just that there are times when they’re not valid. Those times all share a specific trait: things are unsettled. What things? It depends on what …

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Standardization, Part 5

Various shifts in society – arguably the development of technical counterparts to the modern bureaucratic state – started around 1900 and had huge effects on the world of engineering and construction. One of those changes was the licensing of engineers to create a standard (there’s that word again) for judging minimum competence. In 1907, Wyoming …

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Standardization, Part 3

Industrial process are inherently standardized. Once you start producing anything on a large scale and with some degree of mechanization, you’re producing it repetitively and therefore in a standard form. But there’s standardization and standardization. It’s worth comparing the first two purely-industrial building materials to be used in the US: cast and wrought iron. Repetition …

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