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
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 ›
*Hackers and Painters* is an anthology of some of Paul Graham's more provocative essays and lectures. The essays range from exploring the anthropology/sociology of hacking -- nerds (who as an earlier reviewer pointed out are unpopular) and the select of group of computer enthusiasts known as 'hackers.' The book also has his essays advocating the use of Lisp and Bayesian spam-filtering. The book also contains essays that can be considered social commentary (about academics, etc.).
I do NOT agree with all of what Paul Graham has to say. I do not think that Lisp is as useful a language as Paul Graham claims it to be. I don't appreciate his disparaging of concepts (and people) contrary to his own (e.g., bashing Perl, uncharitable remarks about computer scientists and mathematicians, etc.) Some of his social commentary seem ill informed or naive.
BUT -- in spite of all of that -- Paul Graham's essays are well worth reading. Where I do AGREE with him, I really appreciate his insights. I'm a big fan of his essay "Why nerds are unpopular" (contained in this book). With some reservations, I also admire his essays "Hackers and Painters" and essays on Bayesian spam-filtering.
Paul Graham is a great writer. If he wasn't so successful with programming in Lisp, he could have become just as successful with writing in the English language.Read more ›
There are also essays about "ways to create your own wealth," and not from a standpoint of hot to get rich necessarily, but if that happens along the way, all the better. And related to that are Graham's thoughts on creating a succesful startup company, a "foolproof way" of getting rid of spam, what programming languages will be like in 100 years (and it makes one wonder if there will even be programming languages around then as we know them today), even a couple essays on how web based software could be the next "killer ap" and how Microsoft may get eclisped as the dominant company of today, just as they eclipsed IBM way back when.
Graham clearly offers some interesting ideas and comments in his essays, ones that you might not always agree with, but ones you have to at least consider and respect.
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 16 months ago by Brendan
Fantastic book, even a good book for eduction... can be considered as a good parent bookPublished 19 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 on April 23 2014 by Andy Cao
The book is a interesting read but the title doesn't represent what the book is about. There is only a small chapter on painting and hacking, the rest is just essays on spam,... Read morePublished on Oct. 2 2004 by David Baron
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
Every so often a book comes along that blows the cobwebs out of some dark corner of my mind. "The Naked Ape", "Sperm Wars", "Guns, Germs, and Steel",... Read morePublished on July 9 2004 by Andrew Winkler
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
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