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hackers and painters

This article seems to have a lot of smart things to say about what software development is and isn't. Its maybe a little anti-math for my taste but lots of stuff in it resonated for me.

Just like there is a difference between painting a house and painting a landscape, there is a difference between hacking (in the positive sense of the word) and typing in code.

Sorry if this is a dup. I did try searching...

Sunday, June 1, 2003

His arguments about the "Day job" were interesting.  We had a discussion a few weeks ago about the wrongness of open source developers 'cleaning up code' that was not broken, simply to make it more elegant.  His views in favor of pure hacking state the other side of that argument.

To me, the programming field is a lot like architecture, with room for many different levels of idealism, artistry, and pragmatism.  The vast majority of architects build houses that are essentially large boxes with doors and windows and work well within the boundaries of established practice, but there is still room for idealism, with some architects even building their reputation solely on sketching  buildings that no one would ever consider building.

Ran WHittle
Sunday, June 1, 2003

I heard this on another thread.  Something about should painters "pair paint".  I thought it was interesting.  house painters should probably pair paint.  Artists, not so much.

victim, jr.
Sunday, June 1, 2003

It was actually:

"should ARTISTS pair paint?",


"should PAINTERS pair paint?"

just some dude
Sunday, June 1, 2003

I have no idea why these imperative forms should be so prevalent these days.


Practical examples include almost all italian renaissance painters.  Any painter that became commercially, or sufficiently patronised formed their own studio and on many occasions a work of art at the time was identified with the artist's studio rather than the artist directly.

Within that studio a particular picture could be started by the Master and finished off by the apprentices or on some occasions whole teams of painters were used.  The Cistine chapel is just one example.

Rembrandt maintained the tradition.

Simon Lucy
Monday, June 2, 2003


If I recall correctly, the Sistine Chapel was an exception to the usual practice of the time - Michaelangelo painted the whole ceiling himself.

The usual practice of the middle ages was for the primary characters and objects to be painted by the Master, while apprentices would do the rest. In The Last Supper, for instance, many of the disciples were painted by apprentices.

In other words, the Master did the tough, major, and/or glamorous stuff, while the apprentices did the rest.

So, if you were to create/use a Renaissance Hacking technique, one presumes it would utilize primarily 1-2 Master Hackers, and then teams of code monkeys to handle the simple and monotonous junk so as to free up as much of the highly valuable time of the MHs as possible. Not bad for a Theory of Constraints view of how to handle it, either.

Monday, June 2, 2003

except today the code monkey is the IDE.

Monday, June 2, 2003

the masters didn't work on it at the SAME TIME as the apprentices, did they?

Even if they did, it isn't "pair painting", it's "do what I tell you" painting, no?

just some dude
Monday, June 2, 2003

No, Michelangelo didn't work on the whole ceiling.

Simon Lucy
Monday, June 2, 2003

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