Happy World Standards Day! The International Organization for Standardization has declared today, October 14, to be a celebration of the hundreds of engineering and scientific standards from which we all benefit—everything from the length of a meter to the two-letter country code system.
It is a day, in other words, to commemorate cross-national conformance, connection, and collaboration.
But the U.S. will not be observing World Standards Day today, on World Standards Day. Instead, the U.S. will observe World Standards Day next week, on October 23.
This fact first attracted my notice on Twitter, and I had to investigate more. Did the U.S. really honor scientific sameness this, well, sloppily?
The answer is yes—and no.
“Everybody celebrates [World Standards Day] differently,” said Michael Morrell, the executive director of the Society for Standards Professionals. “It doesn’t always happen on the day that ISO declares. But it always happens around the same time in the month.” Canada, for example, is celebrating the holiday a day after the event itself.
Morrell told me that the American observance of World Standards Day in fact follows an entire week of standards-themed activity. Award ceremonies and meetings in Washington, D.C., will precede the big reception and dinner on October 23, which marks the official U.S. observance of World Standards Day.