Hackers and Painters

“Hackers write cool software, and then write a paper about it, and the paper becomes a proxy for the achievement represented by the software. But often this mismatch causes problems. It’s easy to drift away from building beautiful things toward building ugly things that make more suitable subjects for research papers. | Unfortunately, beautiful things don’t always make the best subjects for papers….So why do universities and research labs continue to judge hackers by publications? For the same reason that ‘scholastic aptitude’ gets measured by simple-minded standardized tests, or the productivity of programmers gets measured in lines of code. These tests are easy to apply, and there is nothing so tempting as an easy test that kind of works.” Paul Graham

Hackers and PaintersPaulGraham.com)

I wouldn’t consider myself a hard-core, full-fledged hacker, but I certainly invest a lot of time revising my existing battery of web pages to keep them current (for instance, I regularly update a set of pages on the York Cycle that were published in (Re)Soundings in 1997, and for two years after my IF bibliography was accepted for TEXT Technology, I continued to update it until it came out in print). As I move into my new career in new media journalism, I shall have to keep the wisdom of this article in mind.