I read Hackers and Painters by Paul Graham on February 21, 2018
I consider myself a hacker, in the past year I wrote a lot of code, which range from the useful1 to the useless.2 I also consider myself a painter - in the past year I’ve also painted dozens of paintings - large and small. In learning to code and learning to paint I’ve noticed some similarities that resonated with me while reading this book.
In this book, Paul Graham (PG) points how some of the similarities between painting and coding. In short (and naive summary):
- both utilize past references (museum for painters, open-source for programmers)
- both require learning by doing
- both allow building on what you learned previously
- development occurs through gradual refinement
- both programs and paintings are meant for a human audience and require seeing something from another’s point of view
I wish the book looked more at the differences between painting and coding. In my opnion, I think they are quite interesting. For example, in painting the end result is nearly all that matters, whereas in coding, people will criticize all sorts of meta-aspects (commit descriptions, coding style, etc.).
One more interesting difference between painting and coding is that in coding, a little mistake can create new and amazing content in the painting. However, in coding a mistake often is a nucleus for more mistakes.