Hackers and Painters

Via Tim Bray, via Tim Bray, via, well, you know: Go and read Hackers and Painters, an essay by Paul Graham. This is a must-read for anyone who considers themselves a hacker, especially those like me who make a living at it. A few choice quotes:

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.

For a long time I felt bad about this, just as I once felt bad that I didn’t hold my pencil the way they taught me to in elementary school. If I had only looked over at the other makers, the painters or the architects, I would have realized that there was a name for what I was doing: sketching. As far as I can tell, the way they taught me to program in college was all wrong. You should figure out programs as you’re writing them, just as writers and painters and architects do.

And also:

In hacking, like painting, work comes in cycles. Sometimes you get excited about some new project and you want to work sixteen hours a day on it. Other times nothing seems interesting.

Amen, Brother.

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One Response to “Hackers and Painters”

  1. chornbe Says:

    “In hacking, like painting, work comes in cycles. Sometimes you get excited about some new project and you want to work sixteen hours a day on it. Other times nothing seems interesting.”

    That counts for the day job, too! Sometimes I get excited about dodging meetings. Other times I don’t seem interested enough to bother going. Yep, the formula works there, too.