Calibration is a process of aligning a measuring instrument with a standard: eg placing markings along a length of a wooden ruler that correspond to the markings on a standard length of steel. Scientific instruments, thermometers, electrical measuring devices, and touch screens require calibration. “Calibration” has currency as a term in many contexts. For example, judging panels in the assessment of UK university research are required to “undertake initial calibration exercises” to confirm that they are marking to the same scale and that they agree on standards. This is presumably a social process where committee members develop a sense of each other’s value systems.
The calibration of musical instruments is generally referred to as “tuning,” a term also familiar in architecture. The architect Peter Eisenman wrote about “fine tuning” in the context of a park design made up of overlayed site plans. Design involves so many tweaks and tunings to bring building elements, grids and patterns into alignment, or to adjust them to the site or the particularities of the context.
Tuning might well be the metaphor of our age. Perhaps smart phones are incredibly sophisticated technologies for tuning human interactions, and our relationship with our environment.