Wednesday, September 03, 2008
The Essays of Paul Graham
After noticing that I was referring to one of his essays for the second time in less than a week, I visited Paul Graham's web site and found the mother lode. (For future reference, I've linked to this list from here.) Based on a random sample, I have to say I'm looking forward to lots of really good reading: Graham has a clear, direct style, and is a very original thinker.
Needless to say, I enjoyed his "Writing, Briefly" and found "How to Do What You Love" very insightful. From the latter is this example of the kind of original thinking I like about Graham's essays:
By the time they reach an age to think about what they'd like to do, most kids have been thoroughly misled about the idea of loving one's work. School has trained them to regard work as an unpleasant duty. Having a job is said to be even more onerous than schoolwork. And yet all the adults claim to like what they do. You can't blame kids for thinking "I am not like these people; I am not suited to this world."From there, Graham proceeds to discuss the question of enjoyment as it pertains to work, how money and prestige can lead one astray, and how to help oneself find work one loves. His advice on that last score, briefly is, "Always produce." (But don't stop there. See what he says about how that works.) He then discusses two broad approaches to going about the difficult task of finding work you love.
Actually they've been told three lies: the stuff they've been taught to regard as work in school is not real work; grownup work is not (necessarily) worse than schoolwork; and many of the adults around them are lying when they say they like what they do.
It was not till I was in college that the idea of work finally broke free from the idea of making a living. Then the important question became not how to make money, but what to work on. Ideally these coincided, but some spectacular boundary cases (like Einstein in the patent office) proved they weren't identical.
The definition of work was now to make some original contribution to the world, and in the process not to starve. But after the habit of so many years my idea of work still included a large component of pain. Work still seemed to require discipline, because only hard problems yielded grand results, and hard problems couldn't literally be fun. Surely one had to force oneself to work on them.
If you think something's supposed to hurt, you're less likely to notice if you're doing it wrong. That about sums up my experience of graduate school. [bold added]
Professionally, Graham is a businessman, a programmer, and a programming language designer, and he writes about these things, too. An example of this would be "Microsoft is Dead". After yesterday's post, his number one reason for saying this sounds right on the money:
The most obvious [of four things that killed Microsoft] is Google. There can only be one big man in town, and they're clearly it. Google is the most dangerous company now by far, in both the good and bad senses of the word. Microsoft can at best limp along afterward.There's something on the order of a hundred essays there, on a wide range of subjects. I hope you enjoy them as much as I will!
Chrome and List Update
Google, not unexpectedly, left us Linux users out with its initial release of the Chrome browser, so I probably won't get to play with it for another couple of weeks. But several people had good things to say about it in yesterday's comments. I'm no computer whiz, but from what I read about it, the new browser sounded like it would fix lots of things that have been annoying me to no end about web browsing lately....
Brad Harper also posted on Chrome yesterday, and he includes some links that show that a company can do brilliant things and yet still support positions which, if consistently implemented, would be at odds with its ability to continue doing so. (I have to say that I am puzzled by his term "GovCo"....)
I did get to tinker around with the less-flashy command line list management application I also mentioned. It's rough around the edges, but it will give me the ability to sort through my various lists effectively, which makes it worth using for awhile, and perhaps modifying.
I'm late getting around to this, but be sure to stop by the latest Objectivist Roundup, hosted by Shea Levy, if you haven't already done so. Or if you might have missed something.
I'm even later in adding a link to his blog to the sidebar, but I've fixed that this morning as well.
Bloggin' Boston Brahmans
Rational Jenn, in accepting a nomination for a blog award, manages to find a Boston connection -- even if so tenuous as to want a negative qualifier -- for every single one of the seven other blogs it was her turn to nominate!
I'm ahnah'd to have appeahed on uh' list! (Can one drop too many -r's?)
And one of my fellow Bostonians deserves special mention for getting a song stuck in my head over the weekend. (Gentle Reader, you have been warned!)
Click here to see the video I'm talking about: Its owners apparently don't appreciate the value of free advertising.... (HT: The older of my two brothers.)