“The computer world is like an intellectual Wild West, in which you can shoot anyone you wish with your ideas, if you’re willing to risk the consequences.” –from “Hackers & Painters: Big Ideas from the Computer Age,” by Paul Graham We are living in the computer age, in a world increasingly designed and engineered by computer programmers and software designers, by people who call themselves hackers. Who are these people, what motivates them, and why should you care? Consider these facts: Everything around us is turning into computers. Your typewriter is gone, replaced by a computer. Your phone has turned into a computer. So has your camera. Soon your TV will. Your car was not only designed on computers, but has more processing power in it than a room-sized mainframe did in 1970. Letters, encyclopedias, newspapers, and even your local store are being replaced by the Internet. “Hackers & Painters: Big Ideas from the Computer Age,” by Paul Graham, explains this world and the motivations of the people who occupy it. In clear, thoughtful prose that draws on illuminating historical examples, Graham takes readers on an unflinching exploration into what he calls “an intellectual Wild West.” The ideas discussed in this book will have a powerful and lasting impact on how we think, how we work, how we develop technology, and how we live. Topics include the importance of beauty in software design, how to make wealth, heresy and free speech, the programming language renaissance, the open-source movement, digital design, internet startups, and more. And here’s a taste of what you’ll find in “Hackers & Painters”: “In most fields the great work is done early on. The paintings made between 1430 and1500 are still unsurpassed. Shakespeare appeared just as professional theater was being born, and pushed the medium so far that every playwright since has had to live in his shadow. Albrecht Durer did the same thing with engraving, and Jane Austen with the novel. Over and over we see the same pattern. A new medium appears, and people are so excited about it that they explore most of its possibilities in the first couple generations. Hacking seems to be in this phase now. Painting was not, in Leonardo’s time, as cool as his work helped make it. How cool hacking turns out to be will depend on what we can do with this new medium.” Andy Hertzfeld, co-creator of the Macintosh computer, says about “Hackers & Painters”: “Paul Graham is a hacker, painter and a terrific writer. His lucid, humorous prose is brimming with contrarian insight and practical wisdom on writing great code at the intersection of art, science and commerce.” Paul Graham, designer of the new Arc language, was the creator of Yahoo Store, the first web-based application. In addition to his PhD in Computer Science from Harvard, Graham also studied painting at the Rhode Island School of Design and the Accademia di Belle Arti in Florence.
I want to have a personal business card. All the cool kids have one. The thing is, as you know from reading my blog, I am a bit eccentric. Just a plain ol’ boring business card won’t do.
I ventured forth into the depth of Interweb to find out about fancy business cards. One of the more useful articles was found on Robert Scoble’s blog, of all places. He has some good pointers.
Unfortunately I can’t do a card that will say “go and type in Michael into google and click 47234524th page of results”. It’s because I hope that you all will link to my blog and my pagerank will improve some day.
Another famous type of a cool business card was popularized (or even probably invented) by JWZ: his cards often had a neat title – they varied from “Scientist” to “Hacker” to “Hacker Emeritus” to “Benevolent Dictator”. I am not cool enough to pull something like that off.
The next though that came into my mind – titanium! There are companies that make metal business cards, and you can special order titanium.
The problem with cards like that is that they are prohibitively expensive, and since I am not
“King of All Pimps”, I simply can’t afford them.
“Michael Krakovskiy – Pimp Programmer.” Hmm, that’s won’t work either. By the way, Jonny Walker Blue Lable sucks. Any decent single malt is much, much better.
CD Rom business cards, while cool looking, are not that useful. Their unusual shape and thickness make them hard to keep, and nobody ever puts them in a cd rom. Ever. Well, almost.
There’s another side effect of cards like this: they don’t work in and may break slot-loading cd rom drives, like those on some macs. I know this firsthand as one certain magazine ran a promotion with a small cd in one of the issues. I hear that it broke a few car cd players.
The funniest type of cards that I could find is the chocolate one.
These are wildly impractical, expensive and probably don’t taste good. And unlike cd rom and metal cards can’t even be used as deadly weapons.
I even did some digging on Wikipedia. This Victorian card made me smile. I love the caption under the engraving.
I also found amusing the entry screen for Boris Akunin’s works. It shows calling cards (similar but not the same thing as a business card) of two of his book characters separated by 100 years. You can clearly see the decline of the art of typography today :)
Let me know if you have any ideas, as I seem to be stuck.
Right now am pretty much obsessed with books about rise and fall of tech companies.
These are the most memorable books I’ve read this past year:
“Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution“
“Insanely Great: The Life and Times of Macintosh, the Computer That Changed Everything“
“Dealers of Lightning: Xerox Parc and the Dawn of the Computer Age“
“Show-Stopper!: The Breakneck Race to Create Windows Nt and the Next Generation at Microsoft“
“The Difference Between God and Larry Ellison: Inside Oracle Corporation: God Doesn’t Think He’s Larry Ellison“
“High Stakes, No Prisoners : A Winner’s Tale of Greed and Glory in the Internet Wars“
“The Soul of a New Machine“
“The Supermen: The Story of Seymour Cray and the Technical Wizards Behind the Supercomputer“
Awesome, awesome stuff. I should find time to write some reviews.
I purchased all of these books used (except “Soul of a New Machine” which I just _had_ to have at the time). Some were cheap, others surprisingly expensive. For instance my copy of “Hackers” set me back $30 or $40 because it was out of print at the time. A new edition came out very soon thereafter. Interestingly enough the same thing happened with “Alan Turing: The Enigma“. “The Supermen” was the most expensive at $50. I am still hunting for acceptably priced “The Legend of Amdahl“.
I just finished reading “Defying Gravity: The Making of Newton“. It was very good.
Right now I am reading “Skunk Works: A Personal Memoir of My Years at Lockheed“, which is orgasmically [spellchecker suggested “orgasmic ally” heh heh] good.
I really want to buy one of those highlighter scanners made by C-Pen so that I can keep notes for my livejournal as I read.
C-Pen’s slogan is “Stroke of Genius”. Beavis and Butthead would have a field day with them :)