Great article on what makes real programmers tick
Status: Site Admin
Joined: 26 Sep 2003
Posts: 4126
Location: East Coast, West Coast? I know it's one of them.
Reply Quote
I came across an article by Paul Graham. Give Great Hackers a read, you won't regret it if you're into this stuff. Of course he's not talking about stupid teenager script kiddies, he's using the term in the correct sense of a serious programmer.

I quote some of my favorite selections, but read the whole thing, it's very good. Of course the one thing that Paul Graham misses is that what he is describing is in fact an artist. All real artists share these qualities, so the logical conclusion is that, while most programming and programmers are mediocre, there is a tiny group who approaches their work exactly the same way an artist does.

:: Quote ::
A programming language is a medium of expression.....

... The mere prospect of being interrupted is enough to prevent hackers from working on hard problems.

... Along with good tools, hackers want interesting projects.

... Hackers like to work for people with high standards. But it's not enough just to be exacting. You have to insist on the right things. Which usually means that you have to be a hacker yourself.

... Really good hackers are practically self-managing. The problem is, if you're not a hacker, you can't tell who the good hackers are.

And, in one of my favorite parts:
:: Quote ::
It's pretty easy to say what kinds of problems are not interesting: those where instead of solving a few big, clear, problems, you have to solve a lot of nasty little ones. One of the worst kinds of projects is writing an interface to a piece of software that's full of bugs. Another is when you have to customize something for an individual client's complex and ill-defined needs. To hackers these kinds of projects are the death of a thousand cuts....

So it's not just fastidiousness that makes good hackers avoid nasty little problems. It's more a question of self-preservation. Working on nasty little problems makes you stupid.

and last but not least:

:: Quote ::
The people I've met who do great work rarely think that they're doing great work. They generally feel that they're stupid and lazy, that their brain only works properly one day out of ten, and that it's only a matter of time until they're found out.

Truer words have rarely been spoken.
Back to top
Status: Contributor
Joined: 20 Jul 2004
Posts: 122
Location: Central Illinois, typically glued to a computer screen
Reply Quote
Interesting thoughts, especially that last quote. Given my personality, I'll be the kind of "hacker" he's talking about, assuming I can ever learn a programming language or two! ;)
Back to top
Display posts from previous:   

All times are GMT - 8 Hours