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Linus’s three days of coding effort was probably preceded by months/years of thinking abut the essence of version control for a large distributed development project (a la the Linux kernel). It’s difficult to just stumble on what became the internal structure of git in just a few days if you just started thinking about version control systems.

So, for me the distinction between the two approaches (prototyping -vs- hammock driven) is lately about whether you are solving a largely known/understood problem (equivalent to having domain expertise, in an absolute sense) -vs- solving problems to which you don’t know the answers. In the latter case, there is no shortcut getting around thinking time.

Or, as they say: “A month in the laboratory could save an hour in the library”

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