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Hackers & Painters: Big Ideas from the Computer Age

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Author/s    : Paul Graham
Publisher   : O'Reilly Media
Category   : Other
Review by : Deepak Bala
Rating        : 7 horseshoes

I have mixed feelings about this book. For one it gets many points right.

* Enabling entrepreneurs to get rich will harbor innovation. The Indian government for example could tax businesses at 98% of income earned back in the 70s. No entrepreneur would stand that.
* Nerds are unpopular
* Customer experiences with technology will change with time (Installation / Upgrades / Touch screen / etc)
* Programming languages have varying power.

On the other hand I found myself disagreeing with other points.

* There is no unlimited financial pie from which anyone can stake a claim. Capitalism ensures that. A worker's spending power is capped by his salary. The financial pie is capped by how much a worker can pay for a product. However the author is right about people mistaking unequal wealth distribution to rich people taking a large stake of the pie.
* I have no clue what an essay about programming language and spam detection is doing in this book. Web programming is belabored in one chapter assuming that the reader does not know the difference between client-server and web architectures (which he/she may not) and in another chapter we are skimming over Bayes theorem like it is common knowledge.
* Some details in the book and your perspective on them are influenced by cultural / regional backgrounds.
** In my regional tech community for example - the work 'hacker' was never popular.
* Some nerds have a tough time even after they become adults, owing to their introverted nature. Intelligence still does not trump popular behavior in most workplaces. Unless of course the workplace is full of nerds.

I'd still recommend the book. It will give you a different perspective on a matter of things and help you question others (like fads and fashion. Jeans with stitched underwear anyone ? ).

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