Hackers and Painters

Wow, what a great article - Hackers and Painters by Paul Graham.

Paul says a lot of things that I strongly believe in. Some of the comments on forgetting the theory of computation 3 weeks after the final hit home rather directly - of course looking at my grades, you'd think that I forgot the theory 3 weeks before the final...

I work for Sun Microsystems, and if we're not a big company, I don't know what is... Even so, I still follow the belief that I only hire folks that do work on the side. Hiring programmers that LOVE to hack is critical. I strongly also believe that separating design from implementation leads to IT systems - it works according to spec, but if you need a minor change, you're screwed. Not saying all IT is bad, just there are processes and bureaucracy in place that pretty much prevents the elegant designs we all strive for. I do hope that we all strive for elegant design (even though I'm frequently proven wrong on this).

Paul also has another article on taste that talks about this aspect... One thing I like about working on the web is that it is completely acceptable to hack things on the web - it's the land of eternal beta test. If it doesn't work today, change it tomorrow. People that don't understand this quality should work on financial systems or manufacturing ERP systems or something other than the web. If you're not regularly changing the web systems, you'll quickly lose pace with the rest of the industry. The way people interract with websites is continuing to change, and there is much that can be done to improve the experience. I like being part of that change.

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I run the engineering group responsible for Sun.com and the high volume websites at Sun.

Will Snow
Sr. Engineering Director

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