Paul Graham is a Lisp programmer, a hacker, and he writes about various things.

It is hard not to relate to him, if you have programming background yourself. One of the articles that I’ve read recently is about intellectual curiosity and disobedience: The word “hacker”.

I agree with most of what he says, although “hacking” culture is not confined to USA. Hackers are the same regardless of the culture or nationality. After all, Linus is the most evident example.

“[…] there is a deeper reason that hackers are alarmed by measures like copyrights and patents. They see increasingly aggressive measures to protect “intellectual property” as a threat to the intellectual freedom they need to do their job. And they are right.”

“The latest intellectual property laws impose unprecedented restrictions on the sort of poking around that leads to new ideas. In the past, a competitor might use patents to prevent you from selling a copy of something they made, but they couldn’t prevent you from taking one apart to see how it worked. The latest laws make this a crime. How are we to develop new technology if we can’t study current technology to figure out how to improve it?”

“The government spying on people doesn’t literally make programmers write worse code. It just leads eventually to a world in which bad ideas win. And because this is so important to hackers, they’re especially sensitive to it. They can sense totalitarianism approaching from a distance, as animals can sense an approaching thunderstorm.”

Paul is also a successful entrepreneur and he writes about his experiences: some ideas for startups. And this one is a bit long, but worth a read.

“In a technology startup, which most startups are, the founders should
include technical people. During the Internet Bubble there were a number
of startups founded by business people who then went looking for hackers
to create their product for them. This doesn’t work well. Business
people are bad at deciding what to do with technology, because they
don’t know what the options are, or which kinds of problems are hard and
which are easy. And when business people try to hire hackers, they can’t
tell which ones are good.”

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