Painting / Hacking


Lisper extraordinaire, Paul Graham, just posted his essay Hackers and Painters -- apparently originally a speech at Harvard.

The essay explains his choice to follow up CS grad school by studying painting. In so doing he talks about different approaches to programming:

For example, I was taught in college that one ought to figure out a program completely on paper before even going near a computer. I found that I did not program this way. I found that I liked to program sitting in front of a computer, not a piece of paper. Worse still, instead of patiently writing out a complete program and assuring myself it was correct, I tended to just spew out code that was hopelessly broken, and gradually beat it into shape. Debugging, I was taught, was a kind of final pass where you caught typos and oversights. The way I worked, it seemed like programming consisted of debugging.

the dearth of great programming gigs:

All makers face this problem. Prices are determined by supply and demand, and there is just not as much demand for things that are fun to work on as there is for things that solve the mundane problems of individual customers. ... When I say that the answer is for hackers to have day jobs, and work on beautiful software on the side, I'm not proposing this as a new idea. This is what open-source hacking is all about.

and some hopeful thoughts about the novelty of programming as a medium of expression:

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.

I could quote the entire essay in pieces here. But I won't because you should read the whole thing

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