New Book: Big Data, Big Dupe

I’ve written a new book, titled Big Data, Big Dupe, which will be published on February 1, 2018.

As the title suggests, it is an exposé on Big Data—one that is long overdue. To give you an idea of the content, here’s the text that will appear on the book’s back cover:

Big Data, Big Dupe is a little book about a big bunch of nonsense. The story of David and Goliath inspires us to hope that something little, when armed with truth, can topple something big that is a lie. This is the author’s hope. While others have written about the dangers of Big Data, Stephen Few reveals the deceit that belies its illusory nature. If “data is the new oil,” Big Data is the new snake oil. It isn’t real. It’s a marketing campaign that has distracted us for years from the real and important work of deriving value from data.

Here’s the table of contents:

As you can see, unlike my four other books, this is not about data visualization, but it is definitely relevant to all of us who are involved in data sensemaking. If the nonsense of Big Data is making your work difficult and hurting your organization, this is a book that you might want to leave on the desks of your CEO and CIO. It’s short enough that they might actually read it.

Big Data, Big Dupe is now available for pre-order.

Take care,

15 Comments on “New Book: Big Data, Big Dupe”

By Tracey Lauriault. December 6th, 2017 at 5:48 pm

I look forward to reading it! Looks great.

By Jim Linnehan. December 6th, 2017 at 8:00 pm

I hope that this book gets a wide audience. For what it’s worth, I think a stronger word than ‘dupe’ is necessary. Like ‘lie’.

By Roby. December 8th, 2017 at 4:26 am

I think Chapter 4 title says it all, and we could guess you are the author of the book just by this sentence. Cant wait to read that.

By Roby. December 8th, 2017 at 4:27 am

I hope the book cover will be a bit more sober though ;)

By Stephen Few. December 8th, 2017 at 9:10 am


The message of the book’s cover is very sober. The concept for the cover art was mine and it was beautifully rendered by Nigel Holmes. It illustrates, in an attention-catching manner, the truth about Big Data: it is modern snake-oil. While people rally around it in praise, they become mired in its nonsense.

By Roby. December 9th, 2017 at 2:30 am

Hi Stephen, “sober” was probably not the good word, pardon my english. I love cartoons and i understood the message ;) My opinion, and the debate i was awkwardly trying to bring was about conveying a message and reaching readers through a book cover. It was a way to close the loop with this ‘new topic’ and the usual one.

For some reason I have problems with jokes, and catch-phrases and funny drawings when talking about ‘serious’ topics.

All my respect to the underlying work + Nigel’s work.

By Terry Hayden. December 11th, 2017 at 8:32 am

I look forward to reading it!

By Daniel Rubiolo. December 11th, 2017 at 10:26 am

Love it!!

By Joe. December 11th, 2017 at 12:08 pm

Awesome Steve! Can’t wait to read it.

By Joseph Minnow. December 27th, 2017 at 1:32 am

In short big data is making use of data effectively and efficiently.

By Stephen Few. December 27th, 2017 at 5:53 am


You’ve just added a new definition of “Big Data” to the list. In so doing, you’ve illustrated a fundamental problem with the term: Big Data means whatever anyone wants it to mean. As such, it means nothing in particular. “Making use of data effectively and efficiently” doesn’t require a term, it requires skill. Rather than introducing new terms for data and its use every few years, we would do better to develop the skills to use data effectively. The basic skills for doing this have existed for a very long time.

By Adam Briggs. January 12th, 2018 at 12:52 pm

Agreed. IF, for example, an organization is collecting the RIGHT data about its business environment (deemed right because these data sets align with the key performance indicators and customer requirements of their industry), and IF these mission-critical data are analyzed intelligently by capable minds, then these data will drive performance excellence (and alert us in advance when a decline is on the horizon). Larger amounts of data do not necessarily mean better ANALYSIS. In fact, I maintain that by trying to count every grain of sand on the beach–because we don’t understand the COMPARATIVE value of key factors or “drivers,” we view every element as equal–we typically produce WORSE (because less actionable) business intelligence in most instances.

By Ron Dunn. February 17th, 2018 at 4:50 am

Please publish the book in Kindle format. My aging eyes don’t work very well with paper-sized fonts, and I’m looking forward to reading this book.

By Stephen Few. February 17th, 2018 at 9:07 am


If you purchase the printed book and find that it is difficult for your eyes, please contact me at and I’ll take care of you. I’m not a fan of electronic books for various reasons, but I do want the book to be accessible to you.


By Anthony Newell. February 17th, 2018 at 12:21 pm

Wow, cannot believe I’m reading this

From a known authority in the data world this really validates the suspicions I’ve held for a number of years

The sad part is I’ve seen the Pied Piper lead many over the cliff edge with their sums invested

‘Big data, machine learning, data scientists’ – a cleverly construed fear campaign

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