In May 2004, Paul Graham published “Hackers And Painters,” arguably one of the most important modern books focused on the intersection of technology and entrepreneurship. I was catching up on reading tonight and saw a post which referenced some passages from the book. I clicked through and was curious, “How old is the book?” Well, it’s just over 10 years old. A decade ago. I cut and pasted the Table of Contents from the book below — the title of each chapter and most of the subtitles are truly prescient, now with a decade of hindsight. I do not agree with 20% of what Graham blogs and tweets about today, but it is hard to argue he didn’t perfectly nail this thesis. Reading through each title, it’s remarkable to see the level of foresight he held, as if he saw the next decade unfolding in his mind.
A few nights ago, I was at a dinner and happened to sit next to a founder who had gone through YC twice. We talked a lot about entrepreneurship, the program, his experiences, and much more. This guest realized I had a lot of thoughts about the topic, so he asked me, “Well, what do you think motivates PG?” My answer: “I believe he wants to empower the people he believes are creators.”
- Why Nerds Are Unpopular
Their minds are not on the game.
- Hackers and Painters
Hackers are makers, like painters or architects or writers.
- What You Can’t Say
How to think heretical thoughts and what to do with them.
- Good Bad Attitude
Like Americans, hackers win by breaking rules.
- The Other Road Ahead
Web-based software offers the biggest opportunity since the arrival of the microcomputer.
- How to Make Wealth
The best way to get rich is to create wealth. And startups are the best way to do that.
- Mind the Gap
Could “unequal income distribution” be less of a problem than we think?
- A Plan for Spam
Till recently most experts thought spam filtering wouldn’t work. This proposal changed their minds.
- Taste for Makers
How do you make great things?
- Programming Languages Explained
What a programming language is and why they are a hot topic now.
- The Hundred-Year Language
How will we program in a hundred years? Why not start now?
- Beating the Averages
For web-based applications you can use whatever language you want. So can your competitors.
- Revenge of the Nerds
In technology, “industry best practice” is a recipe for losing.
- The Dream Language
A good programming language is one that lets hackers have their way with it.
- Design and Research
Research has to be original. Design has to be good.