Maciej on Dabblers and Blowhards

by Charles Miller on April 8, 2005

Maciej Ceglowski, who for a while has been a member of my list of bloggers I desperately wish I could write as well as, has poked a well-aimed skewer into Paul Graham's essay, "Hackers and Painters". It's one of those articles where, in trying to find an excerpt to quote here, I had trouble finding any paragraph that wasn't a gem.

It's surprisingly hard to pin Paul Graham down on the nature of the special bond he thinks hobbyist programmers and painters share. In his essays he tends to flit from metaphor to metaphor like a butterfly, never pausing long enough to for a suspicious reader to catch up with his chloroform jar.


Great paintings, for example, get you laid in a way that great computer programs never do. Even not-so-great paintings - in fact, any slapdash attempt at slapping paint onto a surface - will get you laid more than writing software, especially if you have the slightest hint of being a tortured, brooding soul about you.


I blame Eric Raymond and to a lesser extent Dave Winer for bringing this kind of shlock writing onto the Internet. Raymond is the original perpetrator of the "what is a hacker?" essay, in which you quickly begin to understand that a hacker is someone who resembles Eric Raymond.

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