Why standards matter

There’s a lot of debate that always goes on about standards and whether they matter, and whether anyone gives a rip. Especially with the whole Jerry Springer Debate of the Internet — and by that I mean the whole messy debate about RSS vs. ATOM vs. giant mega egos vs. old emo hippies vs. users vs. developers vs. etc. etc.

But most people couldn’t give a rip, because well, RSS is good enough. Works fine in my aggregator.

Well standards do matter, and nowhere is that more apparent than the NCSU Gym. Yes, that’s right – the NCSU Gym.

For the last two weeks, I’ve been making use of the Gym’s elliptical machines — the ones that give you the “ski effect” of sorts.

I really like them, it’s more interesting than the bikes, and it hurts to run for 25 minutes, so it’s a good workout for me to use them.

Unfortunately I’ve used two different models. And between the two models, the way they measure distance and speed seems to be completely different. On one, I get 2.5 miles in 25 minutes — pretty consistently. On the other I get 3.0 miles in 25 minutes. Largely the same pace. And resistance level 10 means two different things on each different model. And the calories burned are different.

The workout is fine on both — and it works but just on that one machine. I cannot accurately guage the progress on one versus the other. And that’s disappointing to go from 2.5 miles to thinking you are progressing to 3.0 miles, but really aren’t because the machine just measures differently.

And that’s why standards matter. You can’t rightly compare and exchange data if the two machines don’t agree on the inputs and outputs.