Devil’s Dictionary for High Tech – Part 1

The Devil’s dictionary is a book created in the early 20th century by American Ambrose Bierce containing sarcastic, ironic and witty re-definitions of words. e.g

PAINTING, n. The art of protecting flat surfaces from the weather and exposing them to the critic.

I’ve recently started creating a set of technology related Devil’s definitions on Twitter.

Here are a number of them, slightly modified as a result of editorial freedom (on my part) as there is no 140 character limit on this blog :-).

Agile: n. A philosophy of project management where long term planning is replaced by short term thinking.

Bug Scrub: n. A meeting aimed at deciding which product issues can be swept under the carpet without too many people noticing.

CRM system: n. A database full of opinion and incomplete info used as a key source of input for decisions and sales projections.

Competitive Analysis: v. The act of simultaneously underestimating your competitors weaknesses and overestimating your own strengths.

Customer Council: n. A small # of Strategic Accounts whose influence on product futures is proportional to their budgets.

Easter Egg: n. Hidden code invoked by secret means that pays tribute to the awesomeness of the application’s developers

First Customer Ship: n. The phase in which a small set of eager customers, unbeknownst to them, join the QA team.

Heroics: n. The Sales Methodology most often cited by salespeople as their reason for winning big deals.

Lead generation: v. The art of finding people interested enough in a product to give their names, but not interested enough to actually buy it.

Marketing: v. The art of getting others to believe exaggerations about you that you likely don’t believe about  yourself.

Market Sensing: v. The fine art of talking to others to understand how your bosses perceive the market.

Nightly Build: n. The overnight compilation of all new bugs introduced the prior day.

Post-mortem: n. A post-release process improvement meeting whose findings are usually ignored until the subsequent post-mortem.

Product Issues: n. The reason given by the sales team for a lost deal when the competitor’s aggressive price-cutting was not the issue.

Product Roadmap: n. A highly-speculative document of little substance but much value, especially during negotiations with Strategic Accounts.

Product Vision: n. An idealistic future view of a product typically derived while in a state of Utopia Myopia.

Refactoringv. The act of completely rewriting working code to enable hypothetical improvements to be made to it sometime in the future. A favourite task of most software developers.

Release Candidate: n. Like a political candidate, far from perfect, but likely to annoy the least number of people.

Release Date: n. The day before the first installation or licensing bug is reported by a customer.

Requirement: n. A statement of need by a Product Manager, seen as a loose suggestion by Development, and as a firm commitment by Sales.

Research Firms: n. Companies that provide CYA services to buyers via simple diagrams and expensive reports. Also applies to Management Consultants.

More to come in my next post.

Feel free to add your own in the comments or let me know which ones you particularly liked or disliked.


See also: Devil’s Dictionary for High Tech pt 2


10 responses to “Devil’s Dictionary for High Tech – Part 1

  1. Outsourcing: v. the process of giving responsibility for coding to somebody who knows nothing about the application nor the business and hoping for a happy outcome.

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  3. I love it ..

    yet, it’s so scary because I’m sure everybody will relate to these definitions, which means that they are true all over the place … so in essence, the system is screwed, everybody knows it, but nobody does a damn thing about it! ;o(

  4. Yes, unfortunately these are universal… a fantastic read though. 10x

  5. Barthox, Bogdan,

    Thanks for the comments. Any specific ones that are particularly relevent? Any definitions of your own you’d like to share?

  6. I particularly liked ‘Market Sensing’ and ‘requirement’

    I don’t have any personal ones, though …

  7. Funny!

    Let us remember though that this is humour. There is sufficient truth in the definitions to render the statements funny, which does not mean that they are accurate, only that the terms can be subverted.

    One of my favourites:

    Passion: n. Having a belief in your product based on insufficient knowledge of the market needs and the competition.

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