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When I finished grad school in computer science I went to art school to study painting A lot of people seemed surprised that someone interested in computers would also be interested in painting They seemed to think that hacking and painting were very different kinds of work-- that hacking was cold precise and methodical and that painting was the frenzied expression of some primal urge Both of these images are wrong Hacking and painting have a lot in common In fact of all the different types of people Ive known hackers and painters are among the most alike What hackers and painters have in common is that theyre both makers Along with composers architects and writers what hackers and painters are trying to do is make good things Theyre not doing research per se though if in the course of trying to make good things they discover some new technique so much the better Ive never liked the term computer science The main reason I dont like it is that theres no such thing Computer science is a grab bag of tenuously related areas thrown together by an accident of history like Yugoslavia At one end you have people who are really mathematicians but call what theyre doing computer science so they can get DARPA grants In the middle you have people working on something like the natural history of computers-- studying the behavior of algorithms for routing data through networks for example And then at the other extreme you have the hackers who are trying to write interesting software and for whom computers are just a medium of expression as concrete is for architects or paint for painters Its as if mathematicians physicists and architects all had to be in the same department Sometimes what the hackers do is called software engineering but this term is just as misleading Good software designers are no more engineers than architects are The
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