Paul Graham is most famous for heading up Y Combinator, a seed-stage startup funding firm, and also for Hacker News, a social news website revolving around computer hacking, startup companies, and as their submission guidelines state, “anything that gratifies one’s intellectual curiosity”. Graham’s essays online are highly regarded for their insight and relevance – and his book, Hackers and Painters, is no different.
1. Nerds serve two masters. They want to be popular, certainly, but they want even more to be smart.
2. An American teenager may work at being popular every waking hour, 365 days a year.
3. Most people seem to consider the ability to draw as some kind of innate quality, like being tall. In fact, most people who “can draw” like drawing, and have spent many hours doing it; that’s why they’re good at it.
4. Smart people’s lives are worst between, say, the ages of eleven and seventeen. Life at that age revolves far more around popularity than before or after.
5. People unsure of their own position will try to emphasize it by maltreating those they think rank below.
6. To become more popular, you need to be constantly doing things that bring you close to other popular people, and nothing brings people closer than a common enemy.