Week 11: Response to “Hackers and Painters” – Theresa Lin (Chen)

“Hackers and Painters” by Paul Graham mainly talks about how hacking and painting, although from different fields of study, essentially the same because they are both a medium of design. Graham expresses his disagreement that hacking should even be categorized under computer science because “Computer science is a grab bag of tenuously related areas thrown together.” People who study computer science range from mathematicians to people who study the algorithm of computers to hackers. Graham strongly believes that computers are “a medium of expression, ” a tool for design. He also gives examples on how many universities and companies force hackers to be scientists, rather than designers. Paul Graham then goes on to say that the best way for a hacker to be able to create their own software is to start their own startup which is why he created Viaweb, a website that allows users to host their own websites.

After reading about Paul Graham’s opinion on computer science, I do kind of see why he says computer science is a broad topic. Computer programming languages are a tool that can be used for different applications such as design or math calculations, but in the end it’s up to the user to determine its use. Graham explains that hacker and painters are the same because they are both makers. In other words, they both involve creating something and in order to learn how to paint or hack, you don’t need to take a college course. If you’re passionate enough about something eventually you’ll seek to learn it by yourself, maybe even before college classes. Another thing is, just because someone takes a coding/programming in class college does not necessarily mean they will learn everything or be good at coding. Computer programming languages take time, effort, and dedication to learn and get good at.

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