Indeed! . .A typical example: Note how arbitrary and simple the binary system is, yet it yields the sophistication and computation of digits in a different way with some extraordinary results – It even allows access to Graham’s web page. And yet, like politics, it’s a local phenomenon, subject to change where some folks might call it a form of negotiating a “standard of measurement” to suit specific goals – electronic computing goals – or in the case of this web page and forum - commentary.
Systems of measure do seem to be tailored to the conditions of the time they’re used, after catastrophes, and for purposes that the users might use that system. They need to be useful and easily applied or are likely to be tossed aside – It’s not a given that they be rejected, but time has more patience with being stubborn than people have with enduring difficulties of supporting a useless sequence of events that no longer serves them adequately toward their goals.
Architects, engineers, and stone masons usually find themselves agreeing on some kind of system they can utilize together in order to accomplish some construction task. Given what has stood the test of time and exposure it seems something of this cooperation took place long ago. Looking around, it’s safe to assert that that ‘something of cooperation’ is in use today.
Symbols and representations are useful, but often lack the fluidity of spoken language, yet, they take on a new interpretation for each witness to them. Agreeing on the rules for interpreting those symbols is the tricky part as that very action requires something of a negotiation process and an acceptance from all users of those abstract constructs. With variations in parameters it is similar to what can be seen today. The key to any arbitrary response of a group of measurers seems to be their individual acceptance of those rules or conditions associated with that system of measure.