I’m in the middle of writing a networking primer (for the 3rd time. sigh.) and I’m in the middle of the “teaching binary” section, and it’s got me thinking about an old joke…
There are 10 kinds of people in the world.
Those who understand binary, and those who don’t.
Yes, hahaha, very amusing. You can even buy it on a shirt. But here’s what I just realized…it doesn’t work as a spoken joke at all.
While writing about binary and decimal, I’ve had to be very careful to pay attention in my sentences to whether I’m writing the word for a value or I’m writing a number. The number 10 is very different than the value ten. The joke works with “There are 10 types….”, but you can’t say “There are ten types…”, because 10 isn’t ten in binary. In binary, 10 is two.
I may be the slowest horse here, but the clear distinction just occurred to me that a written word indicates a value. I am now retroactively aggravated at everyone I’ve ever talked to that pronounced “10” as “ten” when they meant anything except the decimal number 10.
Am I wrong?