Think of how easy it would be to learn something if you make a joke every 5 minutes while learning it (about the subject). In your mind, you turned this abstract concept into something else, something funny, something with pathways and connections that weren't expected. You manipulated it, changed it, saw it in a new light. When you were trying to find humor, you created pathways to other things that you thought were similar. You already connected the object in your brain before you knew where it fit, just by trying to find humor in it.
The really, really good ideas are the ones that almost sound like jokes, but there's an ever so slight hint of severity to them.
Edit: I think I missed the point I was trying to make. Give this to a freshman computer science student. They get to read a fun story. Instead of an intense debate about which language is the best for thing X, or being forced to learn language Y, they get an overview of the entire history, with some cheeky humor that they can remember when they find a bit of truth, or a bit of false, in this story. I will bet they remember this thing better than a 300 page book dedicated to all of the subtle differences between the languages. Plus, they might laugh and enjoy what they're doing.
One way of trying to generate creative ideas is to take something that exists, and imagine changing some aspect of it, and think about how that might work out in the world (See http://www.amazon.com/dp/B000RQLZRO/?tag=dedasys-20 )
Often, humor relies on something being backwards, twisted around, or out of context, too.
I'd disagree with old interpretations like RAW and to some extent ESR in that the neophiles tend to now be regarded more as some kind of court jester figure for those (businessmen?) who exploit their vulnerability WRT linear history vs circular history rather than being regarded as heretics and all that other RAW language.
"1964 - John Kemeny and Thomas Kurtz create BASIC, an unstructured programming language for non-computer scientists.
1965 - Kemeny and Kurtz go to 1964."
Any well-versed programmer will instantly recognize the turtle joke.
I feel like this went over my head... is this a .NET joke? Is there more to it than just that just that Visual Basic is the antithesis of ML?
A famous Haskell developer that went to Microsoft to work on Visual Basic team and started there the LINQ project?
Nope, you've got it. This is the joke.
And I write PHP daily!
Lol, PG was born in 1964! He invented Lisp even before he was born :P I'd credit PG for "re-inventing" Lisp though.
and this is a good book on programming languages in general: