Hackers painters essay

The detailed flower - just under 6in high- is one of only 80 surviving pieces in the world. The owner will try — and fail — to look nonchalant. The crowd will crane a little closer, then closer still, until finally the expert reveals the fascinating provenance of the item and announces its astonishingly high value.

Hackers painters essay

Dabblers And Blowhards I actually worry a lot that as I get "popular" I'll be able to get away with saying stupider stuff than I would have dared say before.

When this essay came out, I was working as a computer programmer, and since I had also spent a few years as a full-time oil paintereverybody who read the article and knew me sent along the hyperlink.

Hackers painters essay

Just another programmer writing about what made him tick. But the emailed links continued, and over the next two years Paul Graham steadily ramped up his output while moving definitively away from subjects he had expertise in like Lisp to topics like education, essay writing, history, and of course painting.

Sometime last year I noticed he had started making bank from an actual print book of collected essays, titled of course "Hackers and Painters". I felt it was time for me to step up. So let me say it simply - hackers are nothing like painters. It's surprisingly hard to pin Paul Graham down on the nature of the special bond he thinks hobbyist programmers and painters share.

In his essays he tends to flit from metaphor to metaphor like a butterfly, never pausing long enough to for a suspicious reader to catch up with his chloroform jar. The closest he comes to a clear thesis statement is at the beginning "Hackers and Painters": What hackers and painters have in common is that they're both makers.

The fatuousness of the parallel becomes obvious if you think for five seconds about what computer programmers and painters actually do. Computer programmers cause a machine to perform a sequence of transformations on electronically stored data.

Painters apply colored goo to cloth using animal hairs tied to a stick. It is true that both painters and programmers make things, just like a pastry chef makes a wedding cake, or a chicken makes an egg.

But nothing about what they make, the purposes it serves, or how they go about doing it is in any way similar.

With the exception of art software projects which I don't believe Graham has in mind here all computer programs are designed to accomplish some kind of task.

Even the most elegant of computer programs, in order to be considered a program, has to compile and run [ 1 ]. So just like mechanical engineers and architects, computer programmers create artifacts that have to stand up to an objective reality.

No one cares how pretty the code is if the program won't work. The only objective constraint a painter has is making sure the paint physically stays on the canvas something that has proven surprisingly challenging.

Hackers painters essay

Everything beyond that is aesthetics - arranging colored blobs in a way that best tickles the mind of the viewer. This difference is what makes programming so similar to engineering, which also tries to create beautiful things in the face of objective constraints, but it's a parallel that really rankles Graham.

He interprets it as implying that there should be limits on the creative control programmers exercise over their work: In what ways do you think to program is more like painting than it is like some of our more common metaphors such as engineering?

Architects decide what the building is going to look like basically and then they say to an engineer, "Can I do this?

So architects figure out "what," engineers figure out "how. Painters decide what to paint and then have to paint it. And hackers in the best case also do both[ 3 ].


You can safely replace "painters" in this response with "poets", "composers", "pastry chefs" or "auto mechanics" with no loss of meaning or insight. There's nothing whatsoever distinctive about the analogy to painters, except that Paul Graham likes to paint, and would like to feel that his programming allows him a similar level of self-expression.

The reason Graham's essay isn't entitled "Hackers and Pastry Chefs" is not because there is something that unites painters and programmers into a secret brotherhood, but because Paul Graham likes to cultivate the arty aura that comes from working in the visual arts. Having been both a painter and a programmer, I can certainly sympathize with him.

Great paintings, for example, get you laid in a way that great computer programs never do. Even not-so-great paintings - in fact, any slapdash attempt at splashing paint onto a surface - will get you laid more than writing software, especially if you have the slightest hint of being a tortured, brooding soul about you.

Also remark that in painting, many of the women whose pants you are trying to get into aren't even wearing pants to begin with. Your job as a painter consists of staring at naked women, for as long as you wish, and this day in and day out through the course of a many-decades-long career.

Not even rock musicians have been as successful in reducing the process to its fundamental, exhilirating essence.Hackers & Painters: Big Ideas from the Computer Age is a collection of essays from Paul Graham discussing hacking, programming languages, start-up companies, and many other technological issues.

"Hackers & Painters" is also the title of one of those essays. This is the moment a £1 million flower set pulses racing on the Antiques Roadshow.

Frequently bought together

The Faberge flower, set to feature on the next instalment of the BBC One show, will be the most expensive item. Cody Choi, visual artist and cultural theorist was born in Seoul in He attended Korea University Sociology major, Korea and Art Center College of Design, Pasadena, California, USA.

The Essay Store. Daar Steven Bratman, A good years after essay life friend of mine has suffered from anorexia 2 years ago. He had a surgeon explore the area, and the diagnosis. help i . Dabblers And Blowhards. About two years ago, the Lisp programmer and dot-com millionaire Paul Graham wrote an essay entitled Hackers and Painters, in which he argues that his approach to computer programming is better described by analogies to the visual arts than by the phrase "computer science".

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Hackers and Painters