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Powerful Thoughts From Paul Graham — Ross Hudgens
21. Empathy is probably the single most important difference between a good hacker and a great one. Some hackers are quite smart, but practically solipsists when it comes to empathy. It’s hard for such people to design great software, because they can’t see things from the user’s point of view.

25. In a field like physics, if we disagree with past generations it’s because we’re right and they’re wrong. But this becomes rapidly less true as you move away from the certainty of the hard sciences. By the time you get to social questions, many changes are just fashion.

34. Whatever the reason, there seems a clear correlation between intelligence and willingness to consider shocking ideas. This isn’t just because smart people actively work to find holes in conventional thinking. Conventions also have less hold over them to start with. You can see that in the way they dress.

43. E.B. White was amused to learn from a farmer friend that many electrified fences don’t have any current running through them. The cows apparently learn to stay away from them, and after that you don’t need the current. | If you’re a hacker who has thought of one day starting a startup, there are probably two things keeping you from doing it. One is that you don’t know anything about business. The other is that you’re afraid of competition. Neither of these fences have any current in them.

50. But since for most of the world’s history the main route to wealth was to steal it, we tend to be suspicious of rich people.

59. “A lot of the (people applying to be graduate students at MIT) seem smart,” he said. “What I can’t tell is whether they have any kind of taste.” Taste. You don’t hear that word much now. And yet we still need the underlying concept, whatever we call it. What my friend meant was that he wanted students who were not just good technicians, but who could use their technical knowledge to design beautiful things.

64. Good design resembles nature. It’s not so much that resembling nature is intrinsically good as that nature has had a long time to work on the problem. So it’s a good sign when your answer resembles nature’s.

70. You’re most likely to get good design if the intended users include the designer himself. When you design something for a group that doesn’t include you, it tends to be for people you consider less sophisticated than you, not more sophisticated. And looking down on the user, however benevolently, always seems to corrupt the designer. [Good design therefore requires personal risk? having skin in the game?]

76. “Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive.” – C.S. Lewis
biomimicry  business  inspiration  productivity  quotes  start_ups  Paul_Graham  Y_Combinator  via:hotchkiss  empathy  design  UX  hackers  personal_risk  PhDs  aesthetics  dangerous_ideas  smart_people  the_single_most_important 
november 2014 by jerryking
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