“Nothing brings people closer than a common enemy”

Zərifə Rəsullu
3 min readDec 29, 2020


The title is a note from the the book I read this week, called “Hackers and Painters” written by Paul Graham. Although it didn’t meet my expectations, I took some notes from and will be sharing them here. According to Wikipedia:

Hackers & Painters: Big Ideas from the Computer Age is a collection of essays from Paul Graham discussing hacking, programming languages, start-up companies, and many other technological issues. “Hackers & Painters” is also the title of one of those essays.”

hackers and painters

If you’re expecting to read something about technology or how to paint, it isn’t the right choice. Here some notes:

“Adults can’t avoid seeing that teenage kids are tormented. So why don’t they do something about it? Because they blame it on puberty. The reason kids are so unhappy, adults tell themselves, is that monstrous new chemicals, hormones , are now coursing through their bloodstream and messing up everything. There’s nothing wrong with the system; it’s just inevitable that kids will be miserable at that age. This idea is so pervasive that even the kids believe it, which probably doesn’t help. Someone who thinks his feet naturally hurt is not going to stop to consider the possibility that he is wearing the wrong size shoes.”

“Teenagers seem to have respected adults more then, because the adults were the visible experts in the skills they were trying to learn. Now most kids have little idea what their parents do in their distant offices, and see no connection (indeed, there is precious little) between schoolwork and the work they’ll do as adults”

“We have a phrase to describe what happens when rankings have to be created without any meaningful criteria. We say that the situation degenerates into a popularity contest . And that’s exactly what happens in most American schools. Instead of depending on some real test, one’s rank depends mostly on one’s ability to increase one’s rank. It’s like the court of Louis XIV. There is no external opponent, so the kids become one another’s opponents. When there is some real external test of skill, it isn’t painful to be at the bottom of the hierarchy. A rookie on a football team doesn’t resent the skill of the veteran; he hopes to be like him one day and is happy to have the chance to learn from him. The veteran may in turn feel a sense of noblesse oblige . And most importantly, their status depends on how well they do against opponents, not on whether they can push the other down”

“What hackers and painters have in common is that they’re both makers. Along with composers, architects, and writers, what hackers and painters are trying to do is make good things.”

“The way to create something beautiful is often to make subtle tweaks to
something that already exists, or to combine existing ideas in a slightly new way”

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

“After all, you only get one life. You might as well spend it working on something great.”

“ No one gets in trouble for saying that 2 + 2 is 5, or that people in Pittsburgh are ten feet tall. Such obviously false statements might be treated as jokes, or at worst as evidence of insanity, but they are not likely to make anyone mad. The statements that make people mad are the ones they worry might be believed. I suspect the statements that make people maddest are those they worry might be true.”

You can also look to that The Hackers & Painters book — Rastin Mehr.

#whatzarifareads #hackersandpainters



Zərifə Rəsullu