Reconciling assholes for nearly a decade.

Understand me - Paul Graham at it again

http://paulgraham.com/love.html

In homage to him I choose the music of Nat King Cole: L-O-V-E

L is for the way you look at me
O is for the only one I see
V is very, very extraordinary
E is even more than anyone that you adore can

Love is all that I can give to you
Love is more than just a game for two
Two in love can make it
Take my heart and please don’t break it
Love was made for me and you

<trumpet instrumental>
Permalink Lost in the jungle 
January 18th, 2006
<<<[5] Donald Hall said young would-be poets were mistaken to be so obsessed with being published. But you can imagine what it would do for a 24 year old to get a poem published in The New Yorker. Now to people he meets at parties he's a real poet. Actually he's no better or worse than he was before, but to a clueless audience like that, the approval of an official authority makes all the difference. So it's a harder problem than Hall realizes. The reason the young care so much about prestige is that the people they want to impress are not very discerning.>>>

Ain't it the truth!
Permalink sharkfish 
January 18th, 2006
Jesus, get that guy a new project to work on, what a blowhard.
Permalink Phil 
January 18th, 2006
Hey Phil,

Relax. What Paul does is none of your business.
Permalink Rick Tang 
January 18th, 2006
hehe I know, I just don't "get" everyones facination with him.
Permalink Phil 
January 18th, 2006
Me neither. I've read quite a few of his essays and have yet to be impressed. I find Joel's stuff much more insightful.
Permalink Bob 
January 18th, 2006
what's not to get? he writes targeted self-help literature and interesting articles about startups for nerds. nerds are interested in startups and generally could use a lot of self-help. he's like a not as phony and annoying philip greenspun or a less tacky joel spolsky.
Permalink duh. 
January 18th, 2006
Y'know, PG isn't all that bad; he often has good things to say. But this:
"In the US the only mechanism for forcing people to do unpleasant jobs is the draft, and that hasn't been invoked for over 30 years. All we can do is encourage people to do unpleasant work, with money and prestige."
... is the most staggering, jaw-dropping ignorance I've seen in years. I don't know any Republicans who would say that. It's blithe statements like this, so seriously at variance with reality, that make me wonder what planet this guy is from.
Permalink Star Wars Kid 
January 18th, 2006
"what's not to get? he writes targeted self-help literature and interesting articles about startups for nerds."

Yeah, but Joel has something to draw on... he has a startup thats doing great, used to be a big shot at Microsoft, etc... Paul wrote a shopping cart program and sold it to Yahoo during the .com spending spree. I used the Yahoo Store back in the day, it kind of sucked. The advice he gives in no way relates to his sucess. Like Joel can say things like "version control is blah blah" and that makes sense, because version control was important on the Excel team or whatever. But Paul Graham will be like "You need to get a degree in comp sci because blah blah" or "startups need to be in college towns". Dude, neither of those things are the reason you are rich. And any in person interviews of him i've seen he comes off as a complete ass.
Permalink Phil 
January 18th, 2006
"I used the Yahoo Store back in the day, it kind of sucked."

That's beside the point.

The value of his toy is in how easy it is for the vendors to set up an online stores.
Permalink Rick Tang 
January 18th, 2006
Well Paul Graham has a PhD from Harvard, runs a successful VC firm, wrote and sold Yahoo! store, funded a couple really cool web applications, and is a good writer. Even if you don't think his advice is sound, you can't deny that he has an aucience: a certain percentage of the nerd population is interested in lisp, startups, incubators, higher education, and how they were treated in high school. Paul reaches those people.

Another segment of the nerd population is interested in version control, visual basic, pointers, bug tracking, microsoft excel, and private offices. Joel reaches those people.

There is also significant overlap between the two.

Sure you might not like him, but I don't see why it is hard to see why he has an audience.
Permalink duh. 
January 18th, 2006
"runs a successful VC firm"

What's came out of Y Combinator that was sucessful? (Not trolling, genuiniely curious)
Permalink Phil 
January 18th, 2006
reddit and kiko. and at least three others have received 2nd round funding.
Permalink duh. 
January 18th, 2006
What's kiko? I'm guessing the Reddit folks are hoping to get bought out by someone?
Permalink Phil 
January 18th, 2006
www.kiko.com . it is an online calendar. they've already received buyout offers. reddit i'm not sure what their plan for financial success is. but they've already become as popular as Digg in terms of actual users, so I'd say that they have been successful in creating a great service that people actually use.
Permalink duh. 
January 18th, 2006
Though he gets a bit long-winded, I do enjoy Paul Graham's writing style. He comes across as more affable than Joel (not that they should really be compared; because they write about very different things).

However, Paul does seem to have a disconnect from reality. But he's surrounded by uber-intellectuals in an uber-intellectual town. If he spent his days in the bible belt, or silicon valley, or elsewhere, his perceptions would probably be colored appropriately. When he talks economics is usually when I start taking his advice with a grain of salt. He may know Lisp, and he may no startups, but he's long since forgotten (if he ever knew) what it's like for the average person to make a living.

But otherwise, I do enjoy a lot of his work.
Permalink thinker 
January 18th, 2006
> they've already received buyout offers.

Do you know for how much, from whom, and for what reason?

Just curious.
Permalink son of parnas 
January 18th, 2006
thinker++
Another thing that bugs me about PG: he doesn't seem to take his own advice. To wit, he's constantly going on about the importance of solving 'hard problems' but he doesn't seem to have solved any himself. A shopping cart app? Ooh, that's groundbreaking. He funded kiko.com? Oh, yeah, an on-line calendar. Wow, what a challenge. I'm surprised they were able to pry people out of the NSA codebreakers group to build that one.

Har har har to your hard problems.
Permalink Star Wars Kid 
January 18th, 2006
Star Wars Kid:

I don't think the hard problems are the apps themselves. Perhaps Graham would argue that the hard problems have more to do with building a universally accepted API for those apps that are needed by everyone so that everyone can use those apps interchangeably? Or something? A bigger picture issue.
Permalink sharkfish 
January 18th, 2006
Ok I tried out Kiko... i see its a fancy new web 2.0 type dealy... seems like it could be neat, but i seem to be getting tons of bugs in the demo, keeps freezing, things are responding, javascript errors, etc. They need to get Paul Graham to work on this puppy.
Permalink Phil 
January 18th, 2006
have you tried writing a useful online calendar? it is not trivial. as to paul graham taking his own advice, well yeah.

i'm not that much of a fan myself, i just see why he's popular. as someone who worked directly with philip greenspun for a couple years, i don't have a lot of trust for self-aggrandizing blog-entrepreneurs. much like i don't trust the authors of "how to be rich" type books. you don't see a lot of blogging or self-help articles by the super successful people. Larry Page isn't writing essays about why nerds get beat up in high school.

it seems like if someone truly is enamoured with hacking and painting, they would view a financial windfall as an opportunity to go hack and paint, without any financial fears. however this seems like a rare case. Graham is writing essays, Greenspun is a private pilot, etc.
Permalink duh. 
January 18th, 2006
Yes, something tells me that he didn't love so much programming, even in Lisp. But that's besides the point, and I just don't think about him as the Lisp hacker or the rich programmer. Yet, there is no such a thing as absolute love, like "I'm going to do it until I die". People change, get tired of the same routines, new changes appear, etc, so we don't need to love everything to the rest of our lives; like, I wouldn't want to write another IRC client, or another GUI framework, or another Database administrator, or learn another language without the desire to create anything with it...

You are right that an explosion of three years of hard work is not always pleasureful, even if we like what we are doing, and that's why we gotta be interested in something more than in other stuff to focus on delivering a result. That's what is advantageous when folks need to be among the top 10% of some area, and if you aren't among the top, then you gotta living some other extreme yourself, like making web-sites in the hope to create the ultimate user interface instead of trying to make it popular. Ramblings...
Permalink Lost in the jungle 
January 18th, 2006
Re: not taking his own advice -- Paul is working on a new dialect of Lisp. I imagine writing a programming language is hard work, and it's the "big problem" he is currently working on.
Permalink thinker 
January 18th, 2006
To me the new Lisp has failed already. To start, Paul Graham didn't even like OO when he programmed in Lisp and he probably didn't dig a lot of C programming as well, and to create a successful language you need those at a minimum.
Permalink Lost in the jungle 
January 18th, 2006
If PG has made progress toward writing a new Lisp interpreter, then I take back my previous criticism. That would qualify as a hard problem. (I specialized in languages and compillers in college... it *was* hard).
As for online stores and calendars: meh. My overall Web 2.0 antipathy notwithstanding (or maybe I'm just being obstinate again) but I don't readily see where the challenge is (at least, that type of challenge PG is always talking about). If it's there, he should elaborate more.
Permalink Star Wars Kid 
January 18th, 2006
"It used to perplex me when I read about people who liked what they did so much that there was nothing they'd rather do. There didn't seem to be any sort of work I liked that much. If I had a choice of (a) spending the next hour working on something or (b) be teleported to Rome and spend the next hour wandering about, was there any sort of work I'd prefer? Honestly, no."

----

Yes! Yes! Why finish this database adapter? Hmm, I'd rather go to Starbuck's and have a mocca frappachino... I've never written code I prefered to standing up and taking another break. Agh. Agh.
Permalink Kasey 
January 18th, 2006
Let's see. It's relavent subject matter, he always throws in some attaboys that make me realize something I'm missing, or pushing to the side.

But most important of all is that I find very few blogs of substance, and this is one one of them. Even if, yes, it seems rather trite, and blahzay for a lot of it.

I liked that blog that NotBerlin posted the other day about the lazy guy - http://lazyway.blogs.com/
There were some good passages in there as well.
Permalink LinuxOrBust 
January 18th, 2006
Oh shoot, this is the "off board" so I have to spell it right, it's "Blase" with an accent on the e or s, I believe.
Permalink LinuxOrBust 
January 18th, 2006
blas&#233;
Permalink Colm O'Connor 
January 18th, 2006

This topic was orginally posted to the off-topic forum of the
Joel on Software discussion board.

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