You like Paul Graham? Me too!

Following an admiration chain, starting with someone I admire, I wound up reading Paul Graham’s essays. I added some feeds to my news reader, and all of a sudden I’ve found a fairly big party, in progress. I’m inundated with news, information, and opinion. I’m paying attention. But what does it mean?

Let me explain what I mean by admiration chain. I admire Chad Fowler. He’s a good teacher, a very smart guy, and he seems to do just what he likes to. By talking to Chad, I learned that he admires Avi Bryant, who works in Smalltalk, and maintains the heretical Seaside framework, which is fairly mind-bending. He’s a very smart guy, and he seems to do just what he likes. Reading Avi’s blog, and listening to a Ruby on Rails podcast, I discovered that he admires Paul Graham. “Who’s that?” I asked myself.

Oh boy.

Have you seen this movie? Some guy in a store buys something, or a kid at an amusement park pays for his admission, and streamers and balloons start falling, and music starts playing, and someone in a cheap suit pops out of nowhere to announce “You’re the millionth customer!” or “You’re number ten million served!” Well, that’s how I feel about reading about Paul Graham and the content related to his world. I’ve opened a door to a space I didn’t know existed, and that space is full of other people, partying seriously.

I’ve added the Y Combinator news feed to my Google reader, and it’s been like crack: a hundred things to read every morning. Think Google is hot? Old news to yC people. They’re thinking Facebook is so very now, and something else entirely is likely on the way. Think Silicon Valley is still the place to be? Forget it! If you aren’t headquartered in Cambridge, between the Harvard and MIT campuses, you are hopelessly outmoded. And what’s that you’re programming in? PHP? Ruby? No no no. You have to program in a functional language, one that scales trivially, and has closures and macros (and bears, oh my) that let you perform all kinds of sorcerer’s apprentice style magic with your software. In other words, the future is Lisp.

What it means for me, besides “me too!” is this: it’s good to be exposed to very opinionated, smart, ambitious people, especially when they’re telling you something new. What I’ve seen, in this party-in-progress, is that it’s time to learn some new things.

I’ve bought my copy of The Little Schemer, I’m pumping my bookmarks full of references to the applicative-order Y combinator, and I’m even fixing to post something about function currying here in a bit. And you know why I feel comfortable going in over my head like this? Because there are oodles of other crazy people already in the deep end.


August 3

My suspicions about the convergence of all things are given another key piece of evidence: guess who Chad Fowler is linking to now?