The Island of Null

You remember how [Pooh] discovered the North Pole; well, he was so proud of this that he asked Christopher Robin if there were any other Poles that a Bear of Little Brain might discover.

"There's a South Pole," said Christopher Robin, "and I expect there's an East Pole and a West Pole, though people don't like talking about them."

Winnie the Pooh, A.A. Milne

There's a special appeal to a fictional place
In a parallel world, or on earth, or in space
Like Lilliput, Middle-earth, Wonderland, Oz,
Utopias, Narnias, and Shangri-Las.
And increasingly people are starting to mull
The mysterious tropical Island of Null.

At latitude, longitude zero degrees,
Alone in the midst of immeasurable seas
The fame of the island has spread far and wide
It's in lists and on maps as a place bona fide.
As a consequence, many a credulous gull
Believes there is really an Island of Null.

The origin myth of the Island of Null,
I'm obliged to admit, is unspeakably dull.
A database missing the true information
May choose zero-zero as default location.
Alternatively, and perhaps even dumber,
It comes from converting a blank to a number.

Produced by a misunderstanding of naught!
I can't hazard what Carroll or More would have thought.
I think Swift would have made a contemptuous shrug
At this island produced by a database bug.
The whole story may serve as informative gauge
Of how errors diffuse in the Internet Age.


This is part of the collection Verses for the Information Age by Ernest Davis