My notes and ramblings

Distributed computing is a pain

To ship and to deliver

The origin

As I flipped pages after pages of the late Steve Jobs’ biography, indulged as I was while my subconscious mind kept resonating with the words from the previous chapters: real artists ship. “These words are very familiar,” my mind spoke to itself while it was rummaging through bits and pieces of my memory trying to recall such words from the past.

It was Mark Zuckerberg. It was his quote of “Stay focused and keep shipping”, a picture he posted with the quote printed on paper placed right beside his workplace on his desk. A single picture Zuckerberg posted on Facebook hit the news, which made me feel the desperation of news outlets trying to find every single microscopic detail of public figures to report on. I remember reading such powerful and motivational quote. I wonder if Zuckerberg took from the same inspiration that Jobs did or Jobs was the inspiration itself.

We will never know where or whom Jobs stole these words from, or maybe he was the person who stringed up the sentence and made it a quote among fellow creators - artists, programmers and designers alike. Nevertheless, I remember how inspiring and true to heart these words were. It resonated with people who create; people who invent.

Real artists ship.

Real artists ship

To the people who have always pursued perfection and ignored results, these can come as an insult; a revelation to the ones who have always put features before anything else which always delays the delivery of results. These words remind us what really matters most in the end. And these words can never be more true.

Because an artist can never call himself an artist without having finished an art.

Most of us share a common attribute: perfectionism. The idealistic perfectionist inside of us keeps on telling us that what we do is not good enough. It rings in our ears every time we try to complete our arts. Our hearts crumble on its weakened knees, helpless in the chanting of the perfectionist angel’s persuasion.

We drag the deadline. Every time when we are supposed to ship, we tell ourselves that this is not its final form. It can be better. We can make it better. Or so that’s what we think.

Every time we lie to ourselves saying that we can ship it in time once the feature is implemented. And it is a lie. A big fat lie.

Words and lies

A result-oriented person tends to ignore the journey. But I believe most of us enjoy the journey so much more than the end result for we learn and we gain from within.

As a creator myself, I tend to enjoy the journey much more. My creations are virtual conceptions that transcend beyond the virtual boundaries imposed by my mind which have materialised to come to exist in this world. Information which was in a form of an elusive state of matter now taking a form of virtual bits and bytes in yet another virtual world; a virtual world which is tightly linked to the physical one which we live in.

We’ve always lied to ourselves. A lie, as clearly its definition we come to understand, is untrue. We lie to ourselves saying that we will ship but it’s just not now. Now is not the right moment. We lie to ourselves saying we will ship once the product is perfect.

And we never deliver. We never ship.

These lies that we tell to ourselves and to other people - the books that we have yet to finish, articles that we have yet to write, features that we have yet to implement and the arts that we have yet to draw - that it’s not time to deliver. These lies have become excuses. Excuses we tell ourselves to make us feel better for not shipping in time. Excuses for us to avoid shipping unfinished perfection to avoid embarrassment.


We need other people to tell us to ship and deliver. We need other people to tell us that it’s time. We need other people to tell us that it doesn’t matter that it’s not perfect.

And here we need Jobs who is just stating the obvious.

We will never know what people think of our pieces of art if we never deliver. What is art if it cannot be shared with other people? What is art if all you can do is to enjoy it all by yourself?


So, just ship the god damn thing! Push it out to the world and let them see what you have created. Let them criticise and stampede on your creation. Let them spit on whatever you do and let them tell you that what you’ve created is not good enough. Let them tell you whatever that you’re working on is a piece of shit.

Because this is the only way we can learn.

We need to know that we are shit. We need to know where we can improve. Heed their advice and listen to those who really know.

Make changes, fail fast and make it better.

Just deliver.

William Heng