I should have known the magic here would be completely missed by much of the Hacker News audience - same thing happened with the comments on my blog. The whole point was that it WASN'T about the technology - it was that he's so in touch with his audience that within 4 hours of it coming to his attention, he was able to do two iterations, get feedback on both, and fix a bug. It took 4 hours because we were communicating asynchronously on a message board, but I'm pretty sure he could have done it live if I had him on the phone. Simply put, I was more impressed that he gave a crap than that he could push a code change.
I am at one of those "average" shops, as are most people (by definition, although maybe not in the HN community). I know this stuff is possible but we can't do it here, and neither can most sites.
To put it in perspective, if you found a bug in your bank's website and told them about it, how long would it take for them to fix it? Even worse, what if you suggested a way to make the site work better? Would anyone with decision making power ever even see the suggestion? Just try telling someone WHO'S NOT A GEEK this story and see what they say. I wrote the article because when I told my wife what happened, her jaw hit the floor.