shlomi-fish-homepage / t2 / humour / fortunes / paul-graham.xml

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<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
<?xml-stylesheet type="text/xml" href="fortune-xml-to-html.xsl"?>
<collection>
    <head/>
    <list>
        <fortune id="paul-graham-people-who-do-great-work">
            <meta>
                <title>Paul Graham: People who do Great Work</title>
            </meta>
            <quote>
                <body>

                    <p>The people I’ve met who do great work… generally feel
                        that they’re stupid and lazy, that their brain only
                        works properly one day out of ten, and that it’s only a
                        matter of time until they’re found out.  </p>

                    <p> Paul Graham<br /> <a href="http://xrl.us/ho9c">“Great
                            Hackers” (later edited out)</a> </p>

                </body>
                <info>
                    <author>Paul Graham</author>
                    <work href="http://web.archive.org/web/20040728182546/http://www.paulgraham.com/gh.html">“Great Hackers” (old Version)</work>
                </info>
            </quote>
        </fortune>
        <fortune id="paul-graham-great-men-in-their-youth">
            <meta>
                <title>Paul Graham about Great Men in their Youth</title>
            </meta>
            <quote>
                <body>

                    <p> What they really mean is, don’t get demoralized. Don’t
                        think that you can’t do what other people can. And I
                        agree you shouldn’t underestimate your potential.
                        People who’ve done great things tend to seem as if they
                        were a race apart. And most biographies only exaggerate
                        this illusion, partly due to the worshipful attitude
                        biographers inevitably sink into, and partly because,
                        knowing how the story ends, they can’t help
                        streamlining the plot till it seems like the subject’s
                        life was a matter of destiny, the mere unfolding of
                        some innate genius. In fact I suspect if you had the
                        sixteen year old Shakespeare or Einstein in school with
                        you, they’d seem impressive, but not totally unlike
                        your other friends.  </p>

                </body>
                <info>
                    <author>Paul Graham</author>
                    <work href="http://www.paulgraham.com/hs.html">What You’ll Wish You’d Known</work>
                </info>
            </quote>
        </fortune>
        <fortune id="paul-graham-java-1">
            <meta>
                <title>Paul Graham about Java - #1</title>
            </meta>
            <quote>
                <body>

                    <p> It could be that in Java’s case I’m mistaken. It could
                        be that a language promoted by one big company to
                        undermine another, designed by a committee for a
                        “mainstream” audience, hyped to the skies, and beloved
                        of the DoD [= “Department of Defense”], happens
                        nonetheless to be a clean, beautiful, powerful language
                        that I would love programming in. It could be, but it
                        seems very unlikely.  </p>

                </body>
                <info>
                    <author>Paul Graham</author>
                    <work href="http://www.paulgraham.com/javacover.html">Java’s Cover</work>
                </info>
            </quote>
        </fortune>
        <fortune id="paul-graham-java-hype">
            <meta>
                <title>Paul Graham - Java Hype</title>
            </meta>
            <quote>
                <body>

                    <p> But for what it’s worth, as a sort of time capsule,
                        here’s why I don’t like the look of Java: </p>

                    <p> 1. It has been so energetically hyped. Real standards
                        don’t have to be promoted. No one had to promote C, or
                        Unix, or HTML. A real standard tends to be already
                        established by the time most people hear about it. On
                        the hacker radar screen, Perl is as big as Java, or
                        bigger, just on the strength of its own merits.  </p>

                </body>
                <info>
                    <author>Paul Graham</author>
                    <work href="http://www.paulgraham.com/javacover.html">Java’s Cover</work>
                </info>
            </quote>
        </fortune>
        <fortune id="paul-graham-cs-mathematics">
            <meta>
                <title>Paul Graham - about Computer Science Mathematicians</title>
            </meta>
            <quote>
                <body>

                    <p> Bundling all these different types of work together in
                        one department may be convenient administratively, but
                        it’s confusing intellectually. That’s the other reason
                        I don’t like the name “computer science.” Arguably the
                        people in the middle are doing something like an
                        experimental science. But the people at either end, the
                        hackers and the mathematicians, are not actually doing
                        science.  </p>

                    <p> The mathematicians don’t seem bothered by this. They
                        happily set to work proving theorems like the other
                        mathematicians over in the math department, and
                        probably soon stop noticing that the building they work
                        in says “computer science” on the outside. But for the
                        hackers this label is a problem. If what they’re doing
                        is called science, it makes them feel they ought to be
                        acting scientific. So instead of doing what they really
                        want to do, which is to design beautiful software,
                        hackers in universities and research labs feel they
                        ought to be writing research papers.  </p>

                </body>
                <info>
                    <author>Paul Graham</author>
                    <work href="http://www.paulgraham.com/hp.html">“Hackers and
                        Painters” (the Essay)</work>
                </info>
            </quote>
        </fortune>
        <fortune id="paul-graham-figure-program-completely-on-paper">
            <meta>
                <title>Paul Graham - figure a Program Completely on Paper</title>
            </meta>
            <quote>
                <body>

                    <p> For example, I was taught in college that one ought to
                        figure out a program completely on paper before even
                        going near a computer. I found that I did not program
                        this way. I found that I liked to program sitting in
                        front of a computer, not a piece of paper. Worse still,
                        instead of patiently writing out a complete program and
                        assuring myself it was correct, I tended to just spew
                        out code that was hopelessly broken, and gradually beat
                        it into shape.  Debugging, I was taught, was a kind of
                        final pass where you caught typos and oversights. The
                        way I worked, it seemed like programming consisted of
                        debugging.  </p>

                    <p> For a long time I felt bad about this, just as I once
                        felt bad that I didn’t hold my pencil the way they
                        taught me to in elementary school. If I had only looked
                        over at the other makers, the painters or the
                        architects, I would have realized that there was a name
                        for what I was doing: sketching. As far as I can tell,
                        the way they taught me to program in college was all
                        wrong.  You should figure out programs as you’re
                        writing them, just as writers and painters and
                        architects do.  </p>

                </body>
                <info>
                    <author>Paul Graham</author>
                    <work href="http://www.paulgraham.com/hp.html">Hackers and Painters</work>
                </info>
            </quote>
        </fortune>
        <fortune id="paul-graham-standard-deviation">
            <meta>
                <title>Paul Graham on Business Oscillations</title>
            </meta>
            <quote>
                <body>

                    <p>I only discovered this myself quite recently. When Yahoo
                        bought Viaweb, they asked me what I wanted to do. I had
                        never liked the business side very much, and said that
                        I just wanted to hack. When I got to Yahoo, I found
                        that what hacking meant to them was implementing
                        software, not designing it.  Programmers were seen as
                        technicians who translated the visions (if that is the
                        word) of product managers into code.  </p>

                    <p> This seems to be the default plan in big companies.
                        They do it because it decreases the standard deviation
                        of the outcome. Only a small percentage of hackers can
                        actually design software, and it’s hard for the people
                        running a company to pick these out. So instead of
                        entrusting the future of the software to one brilliant
                        hacker, most companies set things up so that it is
                        designed by committee, and the hackers merely implement
                        the design.  </p>

                    <p> If you want to make money at some point, remember this,
                        because this is one of the reasons startups win. Big
                        companies want to decrease the standard deviation of
                        design outcomes because they want to avoid disasters.
                        But when you damp oscillations, you lose the high
                        points as well as the low. This is not a problem for
                        big companies, because they don’t win by making great
                        products. Big companies win by sucking less than other
                        big companies.  </p>

                </body>
                <info>
                    <author>Paul Graham</author>
                    <work href="http://www.paulgraham.com/hp.html">Hackers and Painters</work>
                </info>
            </quote>
        </fortune>
        <fortune id="paul-graham-those-who-teach">
            <meta>
                <title>Paul Graham: “What those who teach, cannot do”</title>
            </meta>
            <quote>
                <body>

                    <p>It’s not true that those who can’t do, teach (some of
                        the best hackers I know are professors), but it is true
                        that there are a lot of things that those who teach
                        can’t do. Research imposes constraining caste
                        restrictions.  In any academic field there are topics
                        that are ok to work on and others that aren’t.
                        Unfortunately the distinction between acceptable and
                        forbidden topics is usually based on how intellectual
                        the work sounds when described in research papers,
                        rather than how important it is for getting good
                        results. The extreme case is probably literature;
                        people studying literature rarely say anything that
                        would be of the slightest use to those producing it.
                    </p>

                    <p> Though the situation is better in the sciences, the
                        overlap between the kind of work you’re allowed to do
                        and the kind of work that yields good languages is
                        distressingly small. (Olin Shivers has grumbled
                        eloquently about this.) For example, types seem to be
                        an inexhaustible source of research papers, despite the
                        fact that static typing seems to preclude true macros--
                        without which, in my opinion, no language is worth
                        using.  </p>

                </body>
                <info>
                    <author>Paul Graham</author>
                    <work href="http://www.paulgraham.com/hundred.html">The Hundred-Year Language</work>
                </info>
            </quote>
        </fortune>
        <fortune id="paul-graham-meaning-of-hackery">
            <meta>
                <title>Paul Graham: Meaning of Hacker/Hack</title>
            </meta>
            <quote>
                <body>

                    <p>To the popular press, “hacker” means someone who breaks
                        into computers.  Among programmers it means a good
                        programmer. But the two meanings are connected. To
                        programmers, “hacker” connotes mastery in the most
                        literal sense: someone who can make a computer do what
                        he wants-- whether the computer wants to or not.  </p>

                    <p> To add to the confusion, the noun “hack” also has two
                        senses. It can be either a compliment or an insult.
                        It’s called a hack when you do something in an ugly
                        way. But when you do something so clever that you
                        somehow beat the system, that’s also called a hack. The
                        word is used more often in the former than the latter
                        sense, probably because ugly solutions are more common
                        than brilliant ones.  </p>

                    <p> Believe it or not, the two senses of “hack” are also
                        connected. Ugly and imaginative solutions have
                        something in common: they both break the rules.  And
                        there is a gradual continuum between rule breaking
                        that’s merely ugly (using duct tape to attach something
                        to your bike) and rule breaking that is brilliantly
                        imaginative (discarding Euclidean space).  </p>

                </body>
                <info>
                    <author>Paul Graham</author>
                    <work href="http://www.paulgraham.com/gba.html">The Word “Hacker”</work>
                </info>
            </quote>
        </fortune>
        <fortune id="paul-graham-hacking-predates-computers">
            <meta>
                <title>Paul Graham: Hacking Predates Computers</title>
            </meta>
            <quote>
                <body>

                    <p> Hacking predates computers. When he was working on the
                        Manhattan Project, Richard Feynman used to amuse
                        himself by breaking into safes containing secret
                        documents. This tradition continues today. When we were
                        in grad school, a hacker friend of mine who spent too
                        much time around MIT had his own lock picking kit. (He
                        now runs a hedge fund, a not unrelated enterprise.)
                    </p>

                    <p> It is sometimes hard to explain to authorities why one
                        would want to do such things. Another friend of mine
                        once got in trouble with the government for breaking
                        into computers. This had only recently been declared a
                        crime, and the FBI found that their usual investigative
                        technique didn’t work. Police investigation apparently
                        begins with a motive. The usual motives are few: drugs,
                        money, sex, revenge. Intellectual curiosity was not one
                        of the motives on the FBI’s list. Indeed, the whole
                        concept seemed foreign to them.  </p>

                </body>
                <info>
                    <author>Paul Graham</author>
                    <work href="http://www.paulgraham.com/gba.html">The Word “Hacker”</work>
                </info>
            </quote>
        </fortune>
        <fortune id="paul-graham-founding-fathers-say">
            <meta>
                <title>Paul Graham: Founding Fathers Saying Things Like Hackers</title>
            </meta>
            <quote>
                <body>

                    <p> When you read what the founding fathers had to say for
                        themselves, they sound more like hackers. “The spirit
                        of resistance to government,” Jefferson wrote, “is so
                        valuable on certain occasions, that I wish it always
                        to be kept alive.” </p>

                    <p> Imagine an American president saying that today. Like
                        the remarks of an outspoken old grandmother, the
                        sayings of the founding fathers have embarrassed
                        generations of their less confident successors. They
                        remind us where we come from. They remind us that it is
                        the people who break rules that are the source of
                        America’s wealth and power.  </p>

                    <p> Those in a position to impose rules naturally want them
                        to be obeyed. But be careful what you ask for. You
                        might get it.  </p>

                </body>
                <info>
                    <author>Paul Graham</author>
                    <work href="http://www.paulgraham.com/gba.html">The Word “Hacker”</work>
                </info>
            </quote>
        </fortune>
        <fortune id="paul-graham-mbas-in-fortune-400">
            <meta>
                <title>Paul Graham: MBAs in the Fortune 400</title>
            </meta>
            <quote>
                <body>

                    <p> If you work your way down the Forbes 400 making an x
                        next to the name of each person with an MBA, you’ll
                        learn something important about business school. You
                        don’t even hit an MBA till number 22, Phil Knight, the
                        CEO of Nike. There are only four MBAs in the top 50.
                        What you notice in the Forbes 400 are a lot of people
                        with technical backgrounds. Bill Gates, Steve Jobs,
                        Larry Ellison, Michael Dell, Jeff Bezos, Gordon Moore.
                        The rulers of the technology business tend to come from
                        technology, not business. So if you want to invest two
                        years in something that will help you succeed in
                        business, the evidence suggests you’d do better to
                        learn how to hack than get an MBA.  </p>

                </body>
                <info>
                    <author>Paul Graham</author>
                    <work href="http://www.paulgraham.com/start.html">How to Start a Startup</work>
                </info>
            </quote>
        </fortune>
        <fortune id="paul-graham-book-by-cover">
            <meta>
                <title>Paul Graham: Judging a Book by its Cover</title>
            </meta>
            <quote>
                <body>

                    <p>The aphorism “you can’t tell a book by its cover”
                        originated in the times when books were sold in plain
                        cardboard covers, to be bound by each purchaser
                        according to his own taste. In those days, you couldn’t
                        tell a book by its cover. But publishing has advanced
                        since then: present-day publishers work hard to make
                        the cover something you can tell a book by.</p>

                    <p> I spend a lot of time in bookshops and I feel as if I
                        have by now learned to understand everything publishers
                        mean to tell me about a book, and perhaps a bit more.
                        The time I haven’t spent in bookshops I’ve spent mostly
                        in front of computers, and I feel as if I’ve learned,
                        to some degree, to judge technology by its cover as
                        well. It may be just luck, but I’ve saved myself from a
                        few technologies that turned out to be real stinkers.
                    </p>

                </body>
                <info>
                    <author>Paul Graham</author>
                    <work href="http://www.paulgraham.com/javacover.html">Java’s Cover</work>
                </info>
            </quote>
        </fortune>
        <fortune id="paul-graham-java-aims-low">
            <meta>
                <title>Paul Graham: Java Aims Low</title>
            </meta>
            <quote>
                <body>

                    <p> 2. It’s aimed low. In the original Java white paper,
                        Gosling explicitly says Java was designed not to be too
                        difficult for programmers used to C. It was designed to
                        be another C++: C plus a few ideas taken from more
                        advanced languages. Like the creators of sitcoms or
                        junk food or package tours, Java’s designers were
                        consciously designing a product for people not as smart
                        as them. Historically, languages designed for other
                        people to use have been bad: Cobol, PL/I, Pascal, Ada,
                        C++. The good languages have been those that were
                        designed for their own creators: C, Perl, Smalltalk,
                        Lisp.  </p>

                </body>
                <info>
                    <author>Paul Graham</author>
                    <work href="http://www.paulgraham.com/javacover.html">Java’s Cover</work>
                </info>
            </quote>
        </fortune>
        <fortune id="paul-graham-wrong-people-like-java">
            <meta>
                <title>Paul Graham: The Wrong People Like Java</title>
            </meta>
            <quote>
                <body>

                    <p>The wrong people like it. The programmers I admire most
                        are not, on the whole, captivated by Java. Who does
                        like Java? Suits, who don’t know one language from
                        another, but know that they keep hearing about Java in
                        the press; programmers at big companies, who are amazed
                        to find that there is something even better than C++;
                        and plug-and-chug undergrads, who are ready to like
                        anything that might get them a job (will this be on the
                        test?).  These people’s opinions change with every
                        wind.</p>

                </body>
                <info>
                    <author>Paul Graham</author>
                    <work href="http://www.paulgraham.com/javacover.html">Java’s Cover</work>
                </info>
            </quote>
        </fortune>
        <fortune id="paul-graham-lang-popularity">
            <meta>
                <title>Paul Graham: Popularity and Being a Scripting Language</title>
            </meta>
            <quote>
                <body>

                    <p> Let’s start by acknowledging one external factor that
                        does affect the popularity of a programming language.
                        To become popular, a programming language has to be the
                        scripting language of a popular system. Fortran and
                        Cobol were the scripting languages of early IBM
                        mainframes. C was the scripting language of Unix, and
                        so, later, was Perl. Tcl is the scripting language of
                        Tk. Java and Javascript are intended to be the
                        scripting languages of web browsers.</p>

                    <p>Lisp is not a massively popular language because it is
                        not the scripting language of a massively popular
                        system. What popularity it retains dates back to the
                        1960s and 1970s, when it was the scripting language of
                        MIT. A lot of the great programmers of the day were
                        associated with MIT at some point. And in the early
                        1970s, before C, MIT’s dialect of Lisp, called MacLisp,
                        was one of the only programming languages a serious
                        hacker would want to use.</p>

                </body>
                <info>
                    <author>Paul Graham</author>
                    <work href="http://www.paulgraham.com/popular.html">Being Popular</work>
                </info>
            </quote>
        </fortune>
        <fortune id="paul-graham-prog-langs-brevity">
            <meta>
                <title>Paul Graham: Brevity of Programming Languages</title>
            </meta>
            <quote>
                <body>

                    <p> One thing hackers like is brevity. Hackers are lazy, in
                        the same way that mathematicians and modernist
                        architects are lazy: they hate anything extraneous. It
                        would not be far from the truth to say that a hacker
                        about to write a program decides what language to use,
                        at least subconsciously, based on the total number of
                        characters he’ll have to type. If this isn’t precisely
                        how hackers think, a language designer would do well to
                        act as if it were.  </p>

                    <p> It is a mistake to try to baby the user with
                        long-winded expressions that are meant to resemble
                        English. Cobol is notorious for this flaw. A hacker
                        would consider being asked to write </p>

                    <p>
                        add x to y giving z
                    </p>

                    <p>
                        instead of
                    </p>

                    <p>
                        z = x+y
                    </p>

                    <p> as something between an insult to his intelligence and
                        a sin against God.  </p>

                </body>
                <info>
                    <author>Paul Graham</author>
                    <work href="http://www.paulgraham.com/popular.html">Being Popular</work>
                </info>
            </quote>
        </fortune>
        <fortune id="paul-graham-evolution-dead-ens">
            <meta>
                <title>Paul Graham: “Evolutionary Dead Ends”</title>
            </meta>
            <quote>
                <body>

                    <p> I think that, like species, languages will form
                        evolutionary trees, with dead-ends branching off all
                        over. We can see this happening already. Cobol, for all
                        its sometime popularity, does not seem to have any
                        intellectual descendants. It is an evolutionary
                        dead-end-- a Neanderthal language.</p>

                    <p>I predict a similar fate for Java. People sometimes send
                        me mail saying, “How can you say that Java won’t turn
                        out to be a successful language? It’s already a
                        successful language.” And I admit that it is, if you
                        measure success by shelf space taken up by books on it
                        (particularly individual books on it), or by the number
                        of undergrads who believe they have to learn it to get
                        a job. When I say Java won’t turn out to be a
                        successful language, I mean something more specific:
                        that Java will turn out to be an evolutionary dead-end,
                        like Cobol.</p>

                    <p>This is just a guess. I may be wrong. My point here is
                        not to dis Java, but to raise the issue of evolutionary
                        trees and get people asking, where on the tree is
                        language X? The reason to ask this question isn’t just
                        so that our ghosts can say, in a hundred years, I told
                        you so. It’s because staying close to the main branches
                        is a useful heuristic for finding languages that will
                        be good to program in now.</p>

                </body>
                <info>
                    <author>Paul Graham</author>
                    <work href="http://www.paulgraham.com/popular.html">The Hundred-Year Language</work>
                </info>
            </quote>
        </fortune>
        <fortune id="paul-graham-wasteful">
            <meta>
                <title>Paul Graham: Wasteful Things</title>
            </meta>
            <quote>
                <body>

                    <p>This isn’t just something that happens with programming
                        languages. It’s a general historical trend. As
                        technologies improve, each generation can do things
                        that the previous generation would have considered
                        wasteful. People thirty years ago would be astonished
                        at how casually we make long distance phone calls.
                        People a hundred years ago would be even more
                        astonished that a package would one day travel from
                        Boston to New York via Memphis.</p>

                </body>
                <info>
                    <author>Paul Graham</author>
                    <work href="http://www.paulgraham.com/popular.html">The Hundred-Year Language</work>
                </info>
            </quote>
        </fortune>
        <fortune id="paul-graham-succinctness-is-power">
            <meta>
                <title>Paul Graham: Succinctness is Power</title>
            </meta>
            <quote>
                <body>

                    <p>In the discussion about issues raised by Revenge of the
                        Nerds on the LL1 mailing list, Paul Prescod wrote
                        something that stuck in my mind.</p>

                    <blockquote>

                        <p> Python’s goal is regularity and readability, not
                            succinctness </p>

                    </blockquote>

                    <p> On the face of it, this seems a rather damning thing to
                        claim about a programming language. As far as I can
                        tell, succinctness = power. If so, then substituting,
                        we get </p>

                    <blockquote>

                        <p>Python’s goal is regularity and readability, not
                            power.</p>

                    </blockquote>

                    <p> and this doesn’t seem a tradeoff (if it is a tradeoff)
                        that you’d want to make.  It’s not far from saying that
                        Python’s goal is not to be effective as a programming
                        language.</p>

                </body>
                <info>
                    <author>Paul Graham</author>
                    <work href="http://www.paulgraham.com/power.html">Succinctness is Power</work>
                </info>
            </quote>
        </fortune>
        <fortune id="paul-graham-mathematicians-and-vogue">
            <meta>
                <title>Paul Graham: Mathematicians and Vogue</title>
            </meta>
            <quote>
                <body>

                    <p> Bureaucrats by their nature are the exact opposite sort
                        of people from startup investors. The idea of them
                        making startup investments is comic. It would be like
                        mathematicians running Vogue-- or perhaps more
                        accurately, Vogue editors running a math journal.</p>

                </body>
                <info>
                    <author>Paul Graham</author>
                    <work href="http://www.paulgraham.com/siliconvalley.html">How to Be Silicon Valley</work>
                </info>
            </quote>
        </fortune>
        <fortune id="paul-graham-technology-parks">
            <meta>
                <title>Paul Graham: about Technology Parks</title>
            </meta>
            <quote>
                <body>

                    <p> If you go to see Silicon Valley, what you’ll see are
                        buildings. But it’s the people that make it Silicon
                        Valley, not the buildings. I read occasionally about
                        attempts to set up “technology parks” in other places,
                        as if the active ingredient of Silicon Valley were the
                        office space. An article about Sophia Antipolis bragged
                        that companies there included Cisco, Compaq, IBM, NCR,
                        and Nortel. Don’t the French realize these aren’t
                        startups?</p>

                    <p> Building office buildings for technology companies
                        won’t get you a silicon valley, because the key stage
                        in the life of a startup happens before they want that
                        kind of space. The key stage is when they’re three guys
                        operating out of an apartment. Wherever the startup is
                        when it gets funded, it will stay. The defining quality
                        of Silicon Valley is not that Intel or Apple or Google
                        have offices there, but that they were started
                        there.</p>

                    <p> So if you want to reproduce Silicon Valley, what you
                        need to reproduce is those two or three founders
                        sitting around a kitchen table deciding to start a
                        company. And to reproduce that you need those
                        people.</p>

                </body>
                <info>
                    <author>Paul Graham</author>
                    <work href="http://www.paulgraham.com/siliconvalley.html">How to Be Silicon Valley</work>
                </info>
            </quote>
        </fortune>
        <fortune id="paul-graham-about-discipline">
            <meta>
                <title>Paul Graham about Hackers and Discipline</title>
            </meta>
            <quote>
                <body>

                    <p>One of the most dangerous illusions you get from school
                        is the idea that doing great things requires a lot of
                        discipline. Most subjects are taught in such a boring
                        way that it’s only by discipline that you can flog
                        yourself through them. So I was surprised when, early
                        in college, I read a quote by Wittgenstein saying that
                        he had no self-discipline and had never been able to
                        deny himself anything, not even a cup of coffee.</p>

                    <p>Now I know a number of people who do great work, and
                        it’s the same with all of them. They have little
                        discipline. They’re all terrible procrastinators and
                        find it almost impossible to make themselves do
                        anything they’re not interested in. One still hasn’t
                        sent out his half of the thank-you notes from his
                        wedding, four years ago. Another has 26,000 emails in
                        her inbox.</p>

                    <p>I’m not saying you can get away with zero
                        self-discipline. You probably need about the amount you
                        need to go running. I’m often reluctant to go running,
                        but once I do, I enjoy it. And if I don’t run for
                        several days, I feel ill. It’s the same with people who
                        do great things. They know they’ll feel bad if they
                        don’t work, and they have enough discipline to get
                        themselves to their desks to start working. But once
                        they get started, interest takes over, and discipline
                        is no longer necessary.</p>

                </body>
                <info>
                    <author>Paul Graham</author>
                    <work href="http://www.paulgraham.com/hs.html">What You’ll Wish You’d Known</work>
                </info>
            </quote>
        </fortune>
        <fortune id="paul-graham-kids-behaving-like-adults">
            <meta>
                <title>Paul Graham: “Kids behaving like Adults”</title>
            </meta>
            <quote>
                <body>

                    <p>Your teachers are always telling you to behave like
                        adults. I wonder if they’d like it if you did. You may
                        be loud and disorganized, but you’re very docile
                        compared to adults. If you actually started acting like
                        adults, it would be just as if a bunch of adults had
                        been transposed into your bodies. Imagine the reaction
                        of an FBI agent or taxi driver or reporter to being
                        told they had to ask permission to go the bathroom, and
                        only one person could go at a time. To say nothing of
                        the things you’re taught. If a bunch of actual adults
                        suddenly found themselves trapped in high school, the
                        first thing they’d do is form a union and renegotiate
                        all the rules with the administration.</p>

                </body>
                <info>
                    <author>Paul Graham</author>
                    <work href="http://www.paulgraham.com/hs.html#fb10">What You’ll Wish You’d Known</work>
                </info>
            </quote>
        </fortune>
        <fortune id="paul-graham-physicist-and-french-lit">
            <meta>
                <title>Paul Graham: Physicists and Professors of French Literature</title>
            </meta>
            <quote>
                <body>

                    <p>I disagree with your generalization that physicists are
                        smarter than professors of French Literature.</p>


                    <p> Try this thought experiment. A dictator takes over the
                        US and sends all the professors to re-education camps.
                        The physicists are told they have to learn how to write
                        academic articles about French literature, and  the
                        French literature professors are told they have to
                        learn how to write original physics papers. If they
                        fail, they’ll be shot. Which group is more worried?
                    </p>

                    <p> We have some evidence here: the famous parody that
                        physicist Alan Sokal got published in Social Text. How
                        long did it take him to master the art of writing
                        deep-sounding nonsense well enough to fool the editors?
                        A couple weeks?  </p>

                    <p> What do you suppose would be the odds of a literary
                        theorist getting a parody of a physics paper published
                        in a physics journal?  </p>

                </body>
                <info>
                    <author>Paul Graham</author>
                    <work href="http://www.paulgraham.com/resay.html">Re: What You Can’t Say</work>
                </info>
            </quote>
        </fortune>
        <fortune id="paul-graham-great-american-nove">
            <meta>
                <title>Paul Graham: the Great American Novel</title>
            </meta>
            <quote>
                <body>

                    <p> Imagine, for example, what would happen if the
                        government decided to commission someone to write an
                        official Great American Novel. First there’d be a huge
                        ideological squabble over who to choose. Most of the
                        best writers would be excluded for having offended one
                        side or the other. Of the remainder, the smart ones
                        would refuse such a job, leaving only a few with the
                        wrong sort of ambition. The committee would choose one
                        at the height of his career—that is, someone whose best
                        work was behind him—and hand over the project with
                        copious free advice about how the book should show in
                        positive terms the strength and diversity of the
                        American people, etc, etc.</p>

                    <p> The unfortunate writer would then sit down to work with
                        a huge weight of expectation on his shoulders. Not
                        wanting to blow such a public commission, he’d play it
                        safe. This book had better command respect, and the way
                        to ensure that would be to make it a tragedy. Audiences
                        have to be enticed to laugh, but if you kill people
                        they feel obliged to take you seriously. As everyone
                        knows, America plus tragedy equals the Civil War, so
                        that’s what it would have to be about. Better stick to
                        the standard cartoon version that the Civil War was
                        about slavery; people would be confused otherwise; plus
                        you can show a lot of strength and diversity. When
                        finally completed twelve years later, the book would be
                        a 900-page pastiche of existing popular novels—roughly
                        Gone with the Wind plus Roots. But its bulk and
                        celebrity would make it a bestseller for a few months,
                        until blown out of the water by a talk-show host’s
                        autobiography.  The book would be made into a movie and
                        thereupon forgotten, except by the more waspish sort of
                        reviewers, among whom it would be a byword for
                        bogusness like Milli Vanilli or Battlefield Earth.</p>

                    <p> Maybe I got a little carried away with this example.
                        And yet is this not at each point the way such a
                        project would play out? The government knows better
                        than to get into the novel business, but in other
                        fields where they have a natural monopoly, like nuclear
                        waste dumps, aircraft carriers, and regime change,
                        you’d find plenty of projects isomorphic to this
                        one—and indeed, plenty that were less successful.</p>

                </body>
                <info>
                    <author>Paul Graham</author>
                    <work href="http://www.paulgraham.com/marginal.html">The Power of the Marginal</work>
                </info>
            </quote>
        </fortune>
        <fortune id="paul-graham-democracy-and-wikipedia">
            <meta>
                <title>Paul Graham - Democracy and the Wikipedia</title>
            </meta>
            <quote>
                <body>

                    <p> The second big element of Web 2.0 is democracy. We now
                        have several examples to prove that amateurs can
                        surpass professionals, when they have the right kind of
                        system to channel their efforts. Wikipedia may be the
                        most famous.  Experts have given Wikipedia middling
                        reviews, but they miss the critical point: it’s good
                        enough. And it’s free, which means people actually read
                        it. On the web, articles you have to pay for might as
                        well not exist. Even if you were willing to pay to read
                        them yourself, you can’t link to them. They’re not part
                        of the conversation.  </p>

                </body>
                <info>
                    <author>Paul Graham</author>
                    <work href="http://www.paulgraham.com/web20.html">Web 2.0</work>
                </info>
            </quote>
        </fortune>
        <fortune id="paul-graham-newspapers-vs-blogs">
            <meta>
                <title>Paul Graham - Newspapers vs. Blogs</title>
            </meta>
            <quote>
                <body>

                    <p> One measure of the incompetence of newspapers is that
                        so many still make you register to read stories. I have
                        yet to find a blog that tried that.  </p>

                </body>
                <info>
                    <author>Paul Graham</author>
                    <work href="http://www.paulgraham.com/opensource.html#f4n">“What
                        Business Can Learn from Open Source” (Footnote)</work>
                </info>
            </quote>
        </fortune>
        <fortune id="paul-graham-news-that-are-not-news">
            <meta>
                <title>Paul Graham - News that are not News</title>
            </meta>
            <quote>
                <body>
                    <p>
                        And when I read, say, New York Times stories, I never
                        reach them through the Times front page. Most I find
                        through aggregators like Google News or Slashdot or
                        Delicious. Aggregators show how much better you can do
                        than the channel. The New York Times front page is a
                        list of articles written by people who work for the New
                        York Times. Delicious is a list of articles that are
                        interesting. And it's only now that you can see the two
                        side by side that you notice how little overlap there
                        is.
                    </p>

                    <p>
                        Most articles in the print media are boring. For
                        example, the president notices that a majority of
                        voters now think invading Iraq was a mistake, so he
                        makes an address to the nation to drum up support.
                        Where is the man bites dog in that? I didn't hear the
                        speech, but I could probably tell you exactly what he
                        said. A speech like that is, in the most literal sense,
                        not news: there is nothing new in it.
                    </p>

                    <p>
                        Nor is there anything new, except the names and places,
                        in most "news" about things going wrong. A child is
                        abducted; there's a tornado; a ferry sinks; someone
                        gets bitten by a shark; a small plane crashes. And what
                        do you learn about the world from these stories?
                        Absolutely nothing. They're outlying data points; what
                        makes them gripping also makes them irrelevant.
                    </p>

                    <p>
                        As in software, when professionals produce such crap,
                        it's not surprising if amateurs can do better. Live by
                        the channel, die by the channel: if you depend on an
                        oligopoly, you sink into bad habits that are hard to
                        overcome when you suddenly get competition.
                    </p>

                </body>
                <info>
                    <author>Paul Graham</author>
                    <work href="http://www.paulgraham.com/opensource.html">“What
                        Business Can Learn from Open Source” (Footnote)</work>
                </info>
            </quote>
        </fortune>
    </list>
</collection>
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