# How big is a million really?

The revered number 1,000,000. It seems so huge, sometimes unapproachable – whether counting to a million, driving a million miles, or a million dollars. But is it?

If you “1 Mississippi, 2 Mississippi, 3 Mississippi,…” your way along, it will take about 11.5 days to count to a million. Not the most fun way to spend one’s time, sure. I suppose one would also need some breaks for food, water, sleep… so it may take a bit longer. And, there is the dreaded, “Darn it! I lost count!” Still, it’s actually possible in a relatively short amount of time.

How about driving a million miles? Peter Gilbert, a Wisconsin insurance salesman, racked up 1,001,385 miles in approximately 17 years in a single car! That averages out to about 160 miles per day or 58,000 miles per year. Then, there’s truckers. On average, the over-the-road trucker will drive 100,000 miles per year, racking up a million miles in a decade.

And, how about “OMG! If only I had a million dollars?!” For a lot of people there is a sense that with 1,000,000 dollars they’d be set for life. (They could be if the money is handled properly, but we’ve all heard that many who “come into money” end up broke.) In reality, the average American spends about 2 – 3 million dollars USD in his or her life. Maybe it’s the having \$1,000,000 all at the same time that’s important; to earn that coveted “millionaire” label!

Becoming a millionaire though – even with the recession –is more common than ever. Certainly, it is partly due to \$1,000,000 “just not being what it used to be”. Thanks inflation! According to Wikipedia and one manner of calculation, there are almost 11 million U.S.-dollar millionaires around the globe with 3.1 million of those millionaires in the U.S.

If you have looked into the Square Inches of Love project, you’ve noticed that the exhibition space totals 1,000,000 Square Inches. Why 1 million? Partly, because of the number’s appeal that results from the perception that “1,000,000” is so huge. Moreover, the project, beyond its ability to raise a lot of money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital – beyond its ability to provide a unique means of exposure for participants – and beyond its ability to be enjoyable and educational to both online and offline explorers, seeks to exemplify the power of collective effort and creativity to overcome what may seem at first to be an overwhelming task. Great things can be accomplished “inch by inch” – so to speak.

Let’s visualize one million square inches. A million is just a thousand 1,000’s. The fabric quilt base for the project will be 1000 inches x 1000 inches – just a bit bigger than 84 feet by 84 feet. You can see scaled renderings of the project here. Below is a representation of a 1000” x 1000” square overlaying a pair of tennis courts:

Regarding the research and sources of inspiration for the Square Inches of Love project, you can learn more at the OPeX studios website. Here though, I want to mention two of the sources of inspiration in particular:

Firstly, part of the inspiration certainly came from the great charity quilt initiatives. The focal point of the exhibition will be a custom, digitally printed fabric base referred to as a “quilt” due to the digital “stitching” together of all submissions. In this way, submissions can be sent digitally from almost anyone, anywhere who wants to participate – quilting skills or not. (We learned during our research, by the way, that the infamous AIDS quilt is made up of over 46,000 3’ x 6’ panels totaling over 120 million square inches and weighs about 54 tons!)

Secondly, we took some direction from the 2005 story of the young English lad, Alex Tew, who in need of money for his university education, raised a million dollars with “The Million Dollar Homepage”. He arranged a 1000 x 1000 grid of pixels on a webpage and sold them for \$1 per pixel in minimum blocks of 100 and linked blocks to advertisers’ and linked the blocks to their websites. Though it was the novelty and the “million dollar” angle which contributed to its ability to succeed in its form, we liked the simplicity of its system for monitoring progress on the Square Inches of Love Progress Grid.

The quilting aspect then provides a cool way to transform the online collection of submissions into an actual physical space where family and friends can come explore the exhibition, maybe find their own or a friend’s submission amongst the million square inches of contributions collected “inch by inch”…

<a title=”How big is a million really?” href=”http://squareinchesoflove.com/2011/how-big-is-a-million-really/” target=”_blank”>How big is a million really? from Square Inches of Love</a>

### 6 Responses

1. SquareInchesOfLove says:

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3. SquareInchesOfLove says:

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6. SquareInchesOfLove says:

See “About Us” – It won’t mention that we both went to IU in Bloomington, but we did…shhhh…