Software & Whiskey

Stephen Colbert’s remarks on his job remind me of the process of developing Photoshop:


"We often discuss satire — the sort of thing he does and to a certain extent I do — as distillery," Mr. Colbert continued. "You have an enormous amount of material, and you have to distill it to a syrup by the end of the day. So much of it is a hewing process, chipping away at things that aren’t the point or aren’t the story or aren’t the intention. Really it’s that last couple of drops you’re distilling that makes all the difference. It isn’t that hard to get a ton of corn into a gallon of sour mash, but to get that gallon of sour mash down to that one shot of pure whiskey takes patience" as well as "discipline and focus."


We’ll never, ever lack good suggestions on what to do next, nor is it terribly hard to grab a wad and go work on them.  Given the vast number of customers and workflows Photoshop serves, however, it’s critical that the enhancements we make each serve a wide range of needs.  Finding the really transformative stuff–the fundamental architectural changes that’ll enable numerous other enhancements while standing the test of time–is the fun, aggravating, and ultimately rewarding part.

0 thoughts on “Software & Whiskey

  1. That’s an interesting comparison, considering I feel much of my job is about comedy.
    We (by “we” I mean Photoshop users in general, and by “in general”, I mean me) can be a fickle bunch, too. We want a paintbrush that will fix all the flaws in our image, but then will argue that the program takes a lot of the creativity away.
    [Yes, or when making something easy “cheapens the coin.” Drop shadows were cool back when only Real Men(TM) would sweat through 30 steps to create each one. –J.]
    I worked with an art director who used to look at images and ask “can you just make this look better…?”
    One day, maybe Photoshop will be a big button that says “Make This Look Better”. I can click it, turn off the lights, and go home. 😉
    [Sure, as long as you can still bill the client just as you used to. 😉 –J.]

  2. Excellent insight. You should expense a bottle of Lagavulin.
    [Yeah, what the world needs now is me combining blogging and drinking. 😉 –J.]

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