So, this amazing video has been going around for the last day (and I have probably watched it a dozen times!), but it has also prompted some thoughts... 1/
This is a recreation of the construction of the Charles Bridge in Prague. Here is the original (from 2016): 2/
Note that the original video is three minutes; the one that's been passed around recently has been sped up to be only a minute. (!) 3/
As for the bridge itself, it was started in 1357 -- and was completed in 1402. That's 45 years. It's 2020 -- this is as if a project that was started in 1975 just finished! 4/
Seeing this gives me the same feeling as seeing the Taj Mahal in person when visiting my mom in India last year: 5/
And all of this prompts one of my favorite poems from Danish mathematician and poet Piet Hein: 6/
THINGS TAKE TIME. We lionize big projects, but we too often speed them up when we think of them, losing appreciation for the persistence and resilience it takes to actually pull these projects off. 7/
For example, many investors say they want to fund "moonshots" and "Apollo programs" -- but the Apollo program took 11 years and cost $158 billion dollars! 8/
Beyond the time and cost, anyone who wants to be a part of an "Apollo program" must be braced for their equivalent of Apollo 1: 9/
nasa.gov/mission_pages/…
Apollo 1 was gutting for the program; the most memorable speech I have ever seen in person was at Surge 2013 when Gene Kranz described -- with tears in his eyes -- how the Apollo 1 fire caused them to question absolutely everything: 10/
He described how Apollo 1 showed them how little they understood their own systems -- how many of them were working by accident. In the aftermath, everything was reexamined and much was redesigned; it would be 20 months before a crewed mission would again be attempted. 11/
Huge, ambitious projects are at once deeply frustrating and uniquely gratifying. Let us be inspired by the construction of the Charles Bridge (and Apollo!) -- not to just dream of taking on big problems, but to remain undaunted when they inevitably pose setbacks. 12/
Speaking personally (and on a much smaller scale!), I look forward to one day having a video where we speed up the development of the Oxide rack: where the difficulty and the toil can be distilled down to a viral minute -- may it take less than 45 years to get there! ;) 13/13

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More from @bcantrill

25 Feb
Donnie raises a good question here, and I want to answer it by way of a quick story... 1/
Recently, the Head of People at a large company (one you've heard of) asked to meet with me to understand some of my more idiosyncratic organizational beliefs 2/
We met at a local watering hole one evening after work, and (as one might expect) the conversation quickly turned to values 3/
Read 16 tweets
12 Jan
So, my thoughts on engineering performance management have always been a bit idiosyncratic, but Matt's tweets today have me reflecting, so... storytime. 1/
An an engineer in a large corporate environment, I had found that performance management never actually improved my own performance. (!) 2/
The things that resulted in my own high performance were the basics: being motivated by the problem; being drawn to the mission; being a part of an incredible team. 3/
Read 19 tweets
3 Jun 19
@jessfraz Upon joining Sun in 1996, my first project in kernel development was to allow the operating system clock interrupt rate to be made more fine-grained. 1/
@jessfraz Historically in Unix, this rate ("hz") was set to 100, yielding a 10ms timeout resolution. My work would allow it to be tuned to 1000, yielding a 1ms timeout resolution. 2/
@jessfraz (Later, I would develop a subsystem that allowed for arbitrary resolution timers -- but that was still in the future in 1996.) 3/
Read 23 tweets
13 Apr 19
This photo of Dr. Katie Bouman seeing the first image of a black hole upon reconstruction is perhaps the most evocative photo of intellectual breakthrough that I have seen -- of anyone, ever. 1/
It captures the moment of breakthrough just perfectly: the delighted grin; the eyes that show equal part elation and relief; the clasped hands that still reflect the intense anxiety of just seconds prior. 2/
It is a look that says, in short: "IT WORKED!" 3/
Read 8 tweets

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