More interviews with Steve Jobs are popping up, somewhat surprisingly. I mean, Jobs would become a guy that seemed pretty pressed for time, but this interviewer? From AppleInsider: "Many [of the tapes] I had never replayed--a couple hadn't even been transcribed before now," Schlender wrote. Sure, these were mostly during the NeXT & Pixar years, but don't you have a duty to your interviewee to at least replay the tapes?


Here's my favorite quote block so far:

"In most businesses, the difference between average and good is at best 2 to 1, right? Like, if you go to New York and you get the best cab driver in the city, you might get there 30% faster than with an average taxicab driver. A 2 to 1 gain would be pretty big.

"The difference between the best worker on computer hard-ware and the average may be 2 to 1, if you're lucky. With automobiles, maybe 2 to 1. But in software, it's at least 25 to 1. The difference between the average programmer and a great one is at least that.

"The secret of my success is that we have gone to exceptional lengths to hire the best people in the world. And when you're in a field where the dynamic range is 25 to 1, boy, does it pay off."

This feels intuitively and experientially true, but why? Is it because great programmers have better ideas of how to get things done? Or is it that the code they write is more modular and easier to maintain and change over time? Or is it simply that good programmers can actually write things that work, even if the internals still break from perfect programming paradigms now and again?

What exactly makes a great programmer's marginal utility over an average schmoe so much greater than a great taxi driver's? I'm not asking so that we can teach it or can it so much as know when we're looking at it.

Basically, though, I think comes back to a phrase I saw Neal Stephenson's Zula think in REAMDE: "A's hire A's; B's hire C's." It doesn't take more than one bad programmer on a team to sink that magic multiplier, and bring 25 to 1 right back down to 1 to 1. Part of the magic Jobs saw might very well be the result of putting together a great team of great programmers, and that's where the gestalt really happens.