Steven Levy published a great article for Wired in which he gives us a behind-the-scenes look at Apple through quotes by a few key people at high ranks in the organisation.
There is a lot of good stuff in the article, but what stood out to me as I read it were the following quotes; in a section about life at Apple after Steve Jobs took over as CEO:
Chris Espinosa: One of the first things Steve did was to put giant “Think Different” banners in the huge atrium in IL1, which seemed a little propaganda-ish, but they were a hit with everybody.
Cheryl Thomas: The “Think Different” campaign was a huge, huge deal for us because it was this redefinition of who we were and how we thought.
The campaign has won a lot of critical acclaim, is widely known among consumers and certainly helped positioning the Apple brand as something special. Reading this, though, I can't help but conclude that it was as much targeted towards the people inside Apple in an attempt to reinject some of that old, magical culture that gave us the original Macintosh.
And it worked. That same company, freed from it's corporate chains, ended up creating many more great products. One of them, of course, the iPod:
Cheryl Thomas: The first time I ever saw someone outside a lab carrying an iPod was Steve, right after the announcement. He was walking, iPod in hand, be-bopping across the quad. He had the hugest smile on his face.
What a beautiful scene that must have been to see for the people that worked so hard on it.
From the excellent Farnam Street blog:
The famous Nobel winning physicist Richard Feynman understood the difference between knowing something and knowing the name of something and it’s one of the most important reasons for his success. In fact, he created a formula for learning that ensured he understood something better than everyone else.
The formula is simple. First you write down what you know about a subject as if you are teaching it to a child. You'll inevitably find gaps in your knowledge, at which point you'll have to go back to the source material until you can explain the whole subject.
To really internalize the knowledge, you then rewrite your notes into a naturally flowing story. Your ability to do that is an indicator of your mastery of the subject.
An interesting profile of Pinterest in The New York Times, detailing the ways in which the company is different from other tech companies.
This (paraphrased) quote by Ben Silbermann, their CEO, stood out to me:
If Pinterest addresses the needs and desires of its users, he said, “the business will take care of itself.”
I believe that to be a stance that is required for creating great products.
At Picnic, we often use JSON or YAML files to manage the configuration of parts of our services. This approach enables employees with a non-engineering background to configure the essential properties for how our systems work. However, mistakes in such files are easily made.
I explain how to overcome these mistakes over on the Picnic Tech Blog.