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This is Ian Ozsvald's blog (@IanOzsvald), I'm an entrepreneurial geek, a Data Science/ML/NLP/AI consultant, author of O'Reilly's High Performance Python book, co-organiser of PyDataLondon, a Pythonista, co-founder of ShowMeDo and also a Londoner. Here's a little more about me.

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17 August 2005 - 23:33Review: Hackers and Painters (Paul Graham)


Hackers and Painters: Big Ideas from the Computer Age


Paul Graham has been writing online since before 2000, today he has 45 articles published for free online. New articles now make Slashdot‘s frontpage, quite a big event in geek circles. He published this book last year and it contains 15 chapters, 10 of which are online and 5 of which are new (and probably won’t go online I guess). The 5 new chapters are:

  • Good Bad Attitude
  • How to Make Wealth
  • Mind the Gap
  • Programming Languages Explained
  • The Dream Language
  • Update Jan 2005: How to Make Wealth is now online.

    Good Bad Attitudes discusses the nerds instinct to step outside of the rules. Hurrah for us thinking outside of the box. How to Make Wealth explains that start-ups are a great way to make new wealth, and as a part of that start-up you can share in that wealth (so get on with it!). Mind the Gap discusses unequal income distributions, Graham think it is less of a problem than is popularly perceived and I tend to agree with his arguments. The last two new essays discuss aspects of programming language design.

    Having read all of the online essays over the years, it felt sensible just to buy this book and give Graham a little cash back. I’d definitely rate this book to new readers who are interested in what makes a geek a geek and the world of high-tech entrepreneurship.

    If you’ve read the online essays, you’ll still get 5 new chapters and How to Make Wealth alone is probably worth the entire price of the book, I quote:

    “At Viaweb one of our rules of thumb was ‘run upstairs’. Suppose you are a big, fat, bully. You open a door and find yourself in a staircase. Do you go up or down? I say up. The bully can probably run downstairs as fast as you can. Going upstairs his will be more of a disadvantage. Running upstairs is hard for you but even harder for him.”

    The online essays appear to be word-for-word reproduced in the book, but illustrations have been added. If you’ve never read Paul Graham, I’d suggest starting with his online essay Hackers and Painters (which is also one of the chapters in the book, and obviously the book’s title too). Overall: thumbs up.

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