Devils Data Dictionary – Big Data Humor

In this modern homage to Ambrose Bierce, Sterne tucks his tongue firmly in cheek and lets loose on an industry only Dilbert could love.

What do Data Science and humor have in common?

In both there is a pleasure of surprise discovery - a new (hopefully, funny) connection you see in a joke, or a new (hopefully, not funny) connection a data scientist finds in data. Sometimes it is the reverse, although finding a funny connection in your company last quarter sales can get you in trouble.

Here is an enjoyable book by Jim Sterne, the Founding President and current Chairman of the Digital Analytics Association, that Big Data Professionals and Data Scientists will especially appreciate.

Devil's Data DictionaryDevil's Data Dictionary

With a mix of wry humor and outlandish sarcasm Sterne hits the datarati upside the head with a well-worn humerus bone and puts the pun in pundit.

Lavishly illustrated by award-winning illustrator, Yevgenia Nayberg.

This book is an homage to Ambrose Bierce's Devil's Dictionary from 1906 and includes such entries as:


The part that's always wrong.


Obscuring the interesting or valuable through homogenization.

Big Data Humor Big Data

Giga, tera, peta, exa, zetta, yotta, yadda, yadda.

Business Requirements:

A negotiated settlement between what the business needs and what the system will ever be able do.

Business Rules:

A negotiated settlement between what the business needs and what the system can do after Business Requirements are ignored.


Coincidence confidently mistaken for cause.

Data Diving:

Stirring a significantly large enough bowl of alphabet soup until actionable insights are written out on the surface. For example: "Cutting prices by 15% will increase volume by 300%" or "Surrender Dorothy."

Data Flow Diagram

A graphical depiction of how everything goes to Hell in a handbasket.

Data Normalization

Turning apples and oranges into peanut butter.

Normal Distribution

Sitting as far from each other as possible in an uncrowded auditorium.

Get the book at

or at Amazon.