Hackers and Painters: Big Ideas from the Computer Age

by Paul Graham

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This was not what I expected, but then again I wasn’t really sure what I expected. But I liked it, the first chapter kind of caught me off guard, but some of the analogies and comparisons make a lot of sense. You can tell that Mr. Paul Graham sure is a thinker!

Here are a few excerpts from the book that I found enjoyable:

“Big companies win by sucking less than other big companies.”

“You learn to paint mostly by doing it. Ditto for hacking. Most hackers don’t learn to hack by taking college courses in programming. They learn by writing programs of their own at age thirteen. Even in college classes, you learn to hack mostly by hacking.”

“Maybe it would be good for hackers to act more like painters, and regularly start over from scratch, instead of continuing to work for years on one project, and trying to incorporate all their later ideas as revisions.”

“If I could get people to remember just one quote about programming, it would be the one at the beginning of Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs.

Programs should be written for people to read, and only incidentally for machines to execute.”

“When you catch bugs early, you also get fewer compound bugs. Compound bugs are two separate bugs that interact: you trip going downstairs, and when you reach for the handrail it comes off in your hand.”

“Mistakes are natural. Instead of treating them as disasters, make them easy to acknowledge and easy to fix. Leonardo more or less invented the sketch, as a way to make drawing bear a greater weight of exploration. Open source software has fewer bugs because it admits the possibility of bugs.”

“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. - C.S. Lewis”

“One of my first drawing teachers told me: if you’re bored when you’re drawing something, the drawing will look boring.”

“Indeed, there is even a saying among painters: ‘A painting is never finished. You just stop working on it.’”

There is so much great content in this book that just provokes thought. I highly encourage you to go check it out, it’s definitely worth reading and re-reading.

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