Hackers & Painters: Big Ideas from the Computer Age Hardcover – May 28 2004
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About the Author
Paul Graham , designer of the new Arc language, was the creator of Yahoo Store, the first web-based application. His technique for spam filtering inspired most current filters. He has a PhD in Computer Science from Harvard and studied painting at RISD and the Accademia in Florence.
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Top Customer Reviews
each in its own way exhibiting our favorite species as a very different critter from the one we gawk at in the mirror.
I got a similar feeling reading the first third of "Hackers and Painters", reading about the prisons we call schools.and the nursuries we call suburbia.
The discussion of economics contains fewer original ideas, but explains clearly some things that every educated person needs to understand, but maybe nobody ever told you. The first half of the book will make fun reading for your active mind.
You have to be a hacker yourself to want to read the second half. At this point the purpose of the book is revealed - subtle ad copy for a new computer language called "arc". The first half are the apologia ( well, prologia ) justifying the audacity of saying out loud that for some purposes, lisp might be a better language than cobol, and forefending the dreaded charge of hate speech.
This is not, however, the endless Holy War between the acolytes of vi and emacs, which was once quashed with "editors, what editors, when I program I just type into the standard input of the compiler".
There's some tantalizing evidence that he's right.
I once got into a discussion with a very bright logician about the nature of mathematics. He was arguing that mathematics is the same thing as set theory, I was arguing that mathematics is the study of interesting axiomatic systems. In some sense it's a stupid argument - one of definitions. In another it's a tribal war over intellectual territory.Read more ›
But what is it? Is it a business book, or a technical book? A bit of both actually, with a pinch of social criticism thrown in. There are essays on business --- particularly startups --- and essays on programming languages and how to combat spam, and one delightful one on the difficulty being a nerd in American public schools.
My favorite essay of the 15 --- and picking a favorite is itself a challenge --- is called "What you can't say". It is about heresy, not historical Middle Ages burned-at-the-stake heresy, but heresy today in 2004. And if you believe nothing is heretical today, that no idea today is so beyond the pale that it would provoke a purely emotional reaction to its very utterance, then read some of the other reviews. Graham's idea is not that all heresies are worth challenging publicly, or even that all heresies are wrong, but merely that there is value is being aware of what is heretical, so one can notice where the blind spots are.
The book is chockful of ideas and hints for getting out the nightmare, that a lot of dev groups are/have turned into. Start your own company , he says ! Why ? Because only in startups do measurability and leverage both ensure that you get what you are worth. In the typical corporate dev environment judging a person's worth or something more tangible like, contributions to specific projects is next to impossible for the typical IT manager. It doesn't matter how hard you work, since the average middle manager cannot measure your contribution. Forget leverage in large groups - you can do very little to alter the course of events in your dept. A few quotes from "How to make wealth" :
*'To get rich you need to get yourself in a situation with two things, measurement and leverage.You need to be in a position where your performance can be measured, or there is no way to get paid more by doing more. And you have to have leverage, in the sense that decisions you make have a big effect'
*'Smallness = Measurement'
* 'Technology = Leverage'
* 'Economically you can think of a startup as a way to compress your whole working life into a few years.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
This book open my mind about everything and changed my perspective.
However, I would recommend it only to people who know a programming language.
Provides an interesting point of view on the world of computer programming and the requirements for success in general. Read morePublished 11 months ago by Brendan
Fantastic book, even a good book for eduction... can be considered as a good parent bookPublished 13 months ago by Amazon Customer
I got it today and it is 100% new with good quality. Can't help reading it all the night! Really great stuff!Published 21 months ago by Andy Cao
A friend of mine introduced me to this book and I am glad that he did. While I am not a programmer and, as a result, got lost a couple of times in the essays, "Beating the... Read morePublished on July 19 2004 by Gina Bianchini
I read your essays "Hackers and Painters" and "Taste for
Makers", and I find them GREAT, even if many months later
the first... Read more
Paul Graham is a real genius who will only receive full recognition for his work very late, like the (now) famous people he talks of in his book. Read morePublished on June 25 2004
Nerds will like the book, even if they feel defensive or irritated by Graham's comments that hit too close to home. Read morePublished on June 20 2004 by Putnam
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