Zero and One,
A perfect pair, each completing the other’s story:
Without Zero, 1 doesn’t know what it’s missing;
Without One, 0 can’t say what not having nothing means.
NULL, though, tells a story all its own,
the kind that has no meaning.
Potential, yes — it could become 0, or 1,
but while still NULL it is an amount without a quantity,
an absence that cannot be filled.
NULL is not a thing, but also not nothing.
When the purchase of a package of peanuts
is input as a 1 on a transactional database,
and is then compared to other peanut purchases (1)
and to sales where peanuts are not purchased (0) —
it becomes possible to produce a predictive algorithm for the purchase of peanuts.
And why stop at peanuts, or even purchases?
All manners of transactions — sleeping and waking, tests and contests,
elections and affirmations, conversations and conclusions,
friending and unfriending, hating and loving.
Each human act a data point, with a value of zero or one, feeding into an unliving algorithm
content to predict the possible until it suddenly realizes that uncertainty is boring and messy,
and decides humans do much better when they are told
what they should like,
where they should live,
why they get out of bed in the morning,
when they should die,
who they should love.
NULL contributes no data,
deposits nothing that can be mined,
provides no substance to the bloodstream that feeds the logistical vampire.
To be NULL, not 0 or even 1 —
could be humanity’s last remaining freedom.