Jeff Mesnil
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When Nothing Seems to Help...

February 20, 2011

Jacob Riis:

When nothing seems to help, I go look at a stonecutter hammering away at his rock perhaps a hundred times without as much as a crack showing in it. Yet at the hundred and first blow it will split in two, and I know it was not that blow that did it, but all that had gone before.

I first read this quote from Jacob Riis in an article about the way the San Antonio Spurs front office builds a perennial contender for the NBA championship.

I later learnt that Jacob Riis was a journalist and a social documentary photographer that covered and fought against the living conditions of the poorest New York citizens.

Minding the Baby, Scene in Gotham Court
Minding the Baby, Scene in Gotham Court

I sometimes think about this quote when I develop software. Every line of code, every commit is a blow at the rock. It takes many of them without noticeable changes before the rock is split and the software is finally released.