Fine new rable-rousing essay by PaulGraham.
1) Of course, I don't agree on inequality of wealth. Sure it "might" be symptom of something OK. But to rest comfortably on that thought, you have to close your mind to the possibility that it also might not.
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2) I'd like to flatter myself that PythonLanguage is the preference of smarter hackers and ergo I am one. But I'm not sure.
I think people who can do JavaLanguage are pretty smart. (Smarter than me, anyway.) Not only that but they're hard-working and have one sort of highly useful and valuable skill : a masochistic streak that gets things done when I get bored.
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3) How to identify great hackers?
With this amount of noise in the signal, it's hard to tell good hackers when you meet them. I can't tell, even now. You also can't tell from their resumes. It seems like the only way to judge a hacker is to work with him on something.
Maybe a ReputationMarket could help here?
4) One difference I've noticed between great hackers and smart people in general is that hackers are more politically incorrect.
Sceptical comments from TeleDyn : though http://www.teledyn.com/mt/archives/002076.html though he seems to think that Graham is calling for a JoelSpolsky type "perfect" hackers paradise environment which isn't quite how I read the essay.
ManageAbility ties it to TheArchitectureOfParticipation (and therefore OpenSource/ParadigmShift) : http://www.manageability.org/blog/stuff/architecture-of-participation-and-hacking
I'd like to see a response from JoelSpolsky, who's written a lot on keeping programmers happy. For now there's the Joel on Software forum : http://discuss.fogcreek.com/joelonsoftware/default.asp?cmd=show&ixPost=169467&ixReplies=10 http://discuss.fogcreek.com/joelonsoftware/default.asp?cmd=show&ixPost=168339&ixReplies=45, http://discuss.fogcreek.com/joelonsoftware/default.asp?cmd=show&ixPost=169467&ixReplies=10
Joel doesn't comment, but links approvingly to this response : http://software.ericsink.com/entries/No_Great_Hackers.html
Any actual evidence for all this? Or for the "value" of great hackers? If they won't do the grunt-work, and want to spend their time self-actualizing in R&D, how much value are they contributing? Can you measure it?
2) Fighting over programming languages is redundant
(Moved to ProgrammingLanguages/ReligiousWarsAreRedundant)
On the other hand PerlLanguage hackers have CPAN. But the IDE issue is a big one.
Why Hire Great Hackers?
Here's one possible reason you want to hire great hackers. GHs are motivated by more than money. The fact is, if you don't hire them, they're going to go off and hack anyway. If you don't hire them, they might even just go off and hack up a free competitor to your product.
So maybe you need to hire GHs defensively (a bit like SoftwarePatents), as insurance. At least you'll focus their attention on your product / ecosystem. Even if they don't do much for it, they're unlikely to do anything against it.
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