Hackers and Painters: Big Ideas from the Computer Age

Hackers and Painters: Big Ideas from the Computer Age

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by Paul Graham
     
 

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"The computer world is like an intellectual Wild West, inwhich you can shoot anyone you wish with your ideas, if you're willing to risk the consequences. " —from Hackers & Painters: Big Ideas from the Computer Age, by Paul Graham

We are living in the computer age, in a world increasingly designed and engineered by computer programmers and software

Overview

"The computer world is like an intellectual Wild West, inwhich you can shoot anyone you wish with your ideas, if you're willing to risk the consequences. " —from Hackers & Painters: Big Ideas from the Computer Age, by Paul Graham

We are living in the computer age, in a world increasingly designed and engineered by computer programmers and software designers, by people who call themselves hackers. Who are these people, what motivates them, and why should you care?

Consider these facts: Everything around us is turning into computers. Your typewriter is gone, replaced by a computer. Your phone has turned into a computer. So has your camera. Soon your TV will. Your car was not only designed on computers, but has more processing power in it than a room-sized mainframe did in 1970. Letters, encyclopedias, newspapers, and even your local store are being replaced by the Internet.

Hackers & Painters: Big Ideas from the Computer Age, by Paul Graham, explains this world and the motivations of the people who occupy it. In clear, thoughtful prose that draws on illuminating historical examples, Graham takes readers on an unflinching exploration into what he calls "an intellectual Wild West."

The ideas discussed in this book will have a powerful and lasting impact on how we think, how we work, how we develop technology, and how we live. Topics include the importance of beauty in software design, how to make wealth, heresy and free speech, the programming language renaissance, the open-source movement, digital design, Internet startups, and more.

And here's a taste of what you'll find in Hackers & Painters:

"In most fields the great work is done early on. The paintings made between 1430 and 1500 are still unsurpassed. Shakespeare appeared just as professional theater was being born, and pushed the medium so far that every playwright since has had to live in his shadow. Albrecht Durer did the same thing with engraving, and Jane Austen with the novel.

Over and over we see the same pattern. A new medium appears, and people are so excited about it that they explore most of its possibilities in the first couple generations. Hacking seems to be in this phase now.

Painting was not, in Leonardo's time, as cool as his work helped make it. How cool hacking turns out to be will depend on what we can do with this new medium."

Andy Hertzfeld, co-creator of the Macintosh computer, says about Hackers & Painters: "Paul Graham is a hacker, painter and a terrific writer. His lucid, humorous prose is brimming with contrarian insight and practical wisdom on writing great code at the intersection of art, science and commerce."

Paul Graham, designer of the new Arc language, was the creator of Yahoo Store, the first web-based application. In addition to his PhD in Computer Science from Harvard, Graham also studied painting at the Rhode Island School of Design and the Accademia di Belle Arti in Florence.

Editorial Reviews

bn.com
The Barnes & Noble Review
The programmer worldview has spread through the broader culture, touching millions of people in ways they don’t begin to realize. In Hackers and Painters, Paul Graham looks at that worldview straight on: a worldview of people who make new things, and want to make them as great as possible.

Along the way, Graham muses about everything from the reasons pro basketball players aren’t overpaid to the reasons teenage nerds are so unpopular (it’s a full-time job being popular, and they’re otherwise occupied). There are trenchant observations on how good design happens; on the value of searching out heretical ideas; on what programming languages might look like in 100 years. You won’t agree with everything, but you’ll be challenged and fascinated throughout. Even the footnotes are worth reading. Bill Camarda

Bill Camarda is a consultant, writer, and web/multimedia content developer. His 15 books include Special Edition Using Word 2003 and Upgrading & Fixing Networks for Dummies, Second Edition.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780596006624
Publisher:
O'Reilly Media, Incorporated
Publication date:
05/28/2004
Pages:
272
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.94(d)

Meet 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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Hackers and Painters: Big Ideas from the Computer Age 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
If you've never heard of Paul Graham, this book provides an excellent introduction. Paul is a hacker (in the original sense of the word), a technology innovator and a philosopher for the computer age. This book of essays runs the gamut from 'why nerds are unpopular' to fixing the spam problem to what makes a 'dream language'. As Paul says in the intro, each chapter is independent of the others and you can skip around as you like. You'll get the general feel for Paul's ideas in all of the essays and some overlap is evident. I read the book straight through and enjoyed every chapter. Paul is a master of the Lisp language and describes how some modern languages are heading in the direction of Lisp. To solve really tough problems in a less powerful language, you tend to end up writing a Lisp interpreter in that language. He also describes why everyone isn't using Lisp for every program they write. If you are a hacker or hacker wannabe, this book offers excellent insight into the mind of a master. If you are a 'pointy-haired' manager, you'll get a better understanding of how truly talented programmers think. If you are involved in a startup company, this book describes several topics that might help give you a competitive edge. Most of all, this is a really fun book that will earn a permanent space on your bookshelf.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Graham presents 15 essays revolving around computer programming. From his own background, he extols the virtues of breaking out on your own and forming a startup. If you are very capable as a programmer and you can find a few others (