Quote of the Month: A Nerd Joke

I saw an old software joke the other day:

“There are 10 kinds of people in this world: those who understand binary and those who don’t.”

You only get that joke if you were forced to learn byte codes in a computer science curriculum of some sort.  If you went through that, like I did, then you’d know that using binary numbers, the symbol “10” means “2”.

The reason I used it here is that it assumes you have a certain context and if you don’t the joke is completely meaningless to you.  To assume a similar context when making a presentation to a senior executive or a marketing expert about your very technically oriented topic is every bit the same mistake except that it can help get you fired instead of just not getting a laugh.  

It illustrates why I write the things I do here, reinforcing the notion that those of us who are technically savvy can lose a whole bunch of folks who don’t understand the same context we do and that can be really bad for your career.

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4 Responses to “Quote of the Month: A Nerd Joke”

  1. L.J.T. Says:

    They have a thinkgeek.com t-shirt with that quote on it. Its a good conversation starter with people who get it on planes.

  2. David Brown Says:

    Hello Pete, I have to admit the joke is unique and very funny. But, as noted I would be hard pressed to tell (or wear) this joke to anyone except for my nerdy 16-year-old. Not to be a joke spoiler but in keeping with nerdiness the joke is only valid for the 2’s complement system!

    :-)) David.

  3. petecj2 Says:

    Thanks for reinforcing the point, Dave, and I’ll try to mind my 2’s complement 8)

    —Pete

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