Hackers and Painters

[Amazon Link] Subtitled "Big Ideas from the Computer Age," this book is a collection of essays from Paul Graham. They are designed to appeal to computer types who at least have pretensions to thinking about other things than computers. They are well-written and provocative.

I'm personally indebted to Graham, since one of the essays included here ("A Plan for Spam") was the springboard for Bogofilter, which has helped reduce the time I spend on dealing with unwanted mail by at least an order of magnitude. (That's a decimal order of magnitude, in case geeks are reading.)

Other topics Graham ruminates on: the ecology of startup tech companies; how to have heretical thoughts and survive; why nerds are unpopular; the superiority of Lisp over other computer languages; the superiority of web-based over host-based applications. And more. Like all good essayists, Graham makes these interesting even to people who might not be directly involved. If you want to sample, many (maybe most, maybe all, I haven't checked) of the essays are available on his website.

He's convinced me that I should learn Lisp. Or, more precisely, that I should have learned Lisp before my brain calcified and made me impervious to such radical rewiring.

He also argues about inequality, a topic much covered on this blog of late. I'll probably devote a separate post to this later.

Last Modified 2022-10-04 7:06 AM EST