Performance Rating LO17540

Dale Emery (
Wed, 25 Mar 1998 00:20:18 -0800

Replying to LO17525 --


I'm going to take your example in a direction different than you

> For example, to measure length you have to observe length.

Measuring length seems simple enough. But in many situations, it is more
complicated than it seems.

For example, how long is the coast of Maine? If you draw a straight line
from one end of the coast to the other and measure the length of the line,
it's about 220 miles. That's one measurement.

Now measure a different way. Take a string that's ten miles long. Hold
one end of it at the southern end of the coast. Stretch the string
straight, and find where the other end of the string touches the coast.
Continue measuring these ten-mile lengths, and add them up. The length of
the coast is maybe 400 miles.

Next, use a one-mile string, then 1000 feet, then 100 feet. The shorter
the string, the longer the coast.

If you use a very short string, say 1 foot, it gets harder to even figure
out where the coast is, or even if "coast" means anything at such short
lengths. At such a small scale, the coast is moving as you measure it,
and it is hard to tell where land stops and ocean begins.

As you measure at still smaller scales, say the width of an oxygen
molecule, "coast" becomes even less meaningful. At a small enough scale,
the "coast" is discontinuous. At that point, even if "coast" meant
something, the notion of "length" may no longer apply.

The length of the coast of Maine depends almost entirely on how you
measure it.

Why would measuring people be any different?



Dale H. Emery -- Collaborative Consultant High Performance for Software Development Projects E-mail: Web:

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