We talk with James Vincent about his book Beyond Measure: The Hidden History Of Measurement From Cubits To Quantum Constants.
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Humans have been measuring things since time immemorial, from the earliest hashmarks on bone—possibly to count hunting kills—to the advanced algorithms of today. Measurement is a way of bringing order and control to our world. A good thing, right?
But it also has been used to impose domination on people and on the natural world. Or to exclude some considerations in favor of others: think of how GDP measures economic growth but not the devastation untrammeled growth is wreaking upon our planet.
James Vincent examines the history and the consequences of measurement in his fascinating book, Beyond Measure. He is a journalist and writer who has written for numerous publications, including the Independent, the Financial Times and Wired. He is currently a senior reporter for the Verge. Beyond Measure is his first book.
We interviewed Simon Winchester in 2021 about his book, Land. We play an excerpt on this episode, but you can hear the entire conversation here.
Next week on Writer’s Voice: We talk with disability rights activist Elsa Sjunneson about her book, Being Seen. Also, we start dreaming about gardening, as we talk with garden columnist and author Jeff Lowenfels about the fourth in his series on regenerative gardening, Teaming With Bacteria.