Fun Depot





Information Measurement Humour
by Milky

In the earliest times, it is said, life was hard and there was little information measurement humour. Later on, however, humanity came out of the dark ages, built the TRS-80, and rocketed into the information age without ever looking back.

Of course, now that there was information, humanity needed a method of measuring exactly HOW MUCH information there was. Old units like pinches, hunks and handfuls just didn't seem to apply, and so all agreed it was time for the scientists to retreat to their secret underground laboratories, deep below the earth's core. After 10 long years (and six short ones), the scientific team proclaimed its discovery of the two smallest units of information: the Binary digIT, or BIT, and a collection of eight bits the (now-blind) scientists cleverly termed a BYTE.

The world was amused, and the golden age of information measurement humour arrived. It was an era dubbed "the most glorious and humyre-fill'd tyme man or beast hath ever known"1, in which manufacturers of bumper stickers, wacky t-shirt makers and pundits everywhere revelled in all the mirth-making opportunities presented by the byte.

Of course, all good things must come to an end, and as computers grew larger, faster, and louder, bits and bytes were rendered obsolete. Information began to be measured using a strange new unit called the kilobyte, or K, launching a devastating worldwide recession of information measurement humour. Standup comedians tried to make jokes involving computers and Special K cereal, but such routines were likely to conclude with desperate sobbing rather than a punchline. The struggles of computer manual authors to make puns linking kilobytes with the Kelvin temperature scale incited more pity than laughter. Bumper sticker manufacturers made attempts to draw some vague connection between information storage and the element potassium, but these never really caught on outside of chemistry circles.

The world cried out for a change, but when the change came, it wasn't much of an improvement. The best new units scientists could offer the information measurement humour community were the megabyte, or MEG, and the gigabyte, or GIG. The information measurement humour community was shocked and devastated - they couldn't work with this! "Meg" and "gig" weren't even real words, let alone pun-friendly homonyms! Many of those who had become accustomed to living the high life back in the days of bits and bytes now found themselves friendless and destitute. Hunger drove many comics to concocting extremely awkward jokes about bands doing gigs or even telling lies about falsified friends named Meg. Drug abuse, suicide, and recreational cannibalism rates soared.

In the late 1990s, however, a faint glimmer of hope appeared on the information measurement humour horizon with the announcement of the new unit, the terabyte, or TERA. Writers of headlines for fear-mongering tabloid TV newsmagazines have expressed confidence that they will have no trouble working with the new unit, which, they note, sounds delightfully similar to the word "terror". Several comedy troupes are now preparing cutting-edge skits based on the similarity between the new unit and the word "Terra," which is Latin for Earth. Some comic strip artists are planning strips in which a computer user feels the urge to "tear a" hair out due to frustrations related to insufficient information storage space - one such artist (who spoke on condition of anonymity) thinks the new pun may even be desktop calendar material.

"It's no byte, but it's good - damn good," said some guy, who, unfortunately, was eaten by an escaped horse at a rodeo before anyone found out who he was.

1. I just made that up.