If you’ve ever typed “Do a Barrel Roll” into Google, then you’ve discovered an “Easter egg,” even if you’ve didn’t know that it was called that.
Oh, you haven’t? Well, go on then. I’ll wait.
Welcome back! This cute—if nausea-inducing—bit of fun for fans of Starfox64 is an example of an Easter egg, or hidden “anti-prank”, within a computer program. For a very tame example, have a look at the world’s first Easter egg: a secret room with the words “Created by Warren Robinett” spelled out in the game Adventure for the Atari 2600. It blew minds in the 70s but is just a trifle in comparison to the Easter eggs programmers hide in everything nowadays, from the breakdancing Yoda in a Star Wars DVD menu to Ninjas in Google Chrome’s Web browser.
Some Easter eggs are harmless OS worship, although not all get the official stamp of approval from the parent company, despite being born of corporate rivalry, My favorites Easter eggs, however, are put there by the people who work behind the scenes and use them to opine on the work, or give their insight into real life events, like the Minecraft-inspired “Notched Pickaxe” in Skyrim.
Now how about a geeky language Easter egg? Do a search for “anagram” on Google. You’ll get the tongue-in-cheek response: Did you mean “nag a ram”?
This is what I was reminded of while reading this post from Carol Saller’s excellent Subversive Copyeditor blog. In part three of her series on creating a good index for one’s book, she cautions against, among other things, accidentally creating “prank” index entries—by giving examples of intentional ones in computer science textbooks:
“Recursion: see recursion
Infinite Loop: see Loop, Infinite
Loop, Infinite: see Infinite Loop”