Paul Graham's Participatory Narcissism

I hope all this talk about bloggers-gone-bad will help you not go bad. But you are talking an awful lot about blogging already. :confused:

Well, it’s YOUR fault (and all the others giving him too much attention for too long time)…

I never appreciated any of his essays, I just found his programming language opinions very interesting and similar to mine.

His essays? I never cared. There’s no such thing as ‘human’ idols. ‘Idol’ means ‘instead of God’.

Now we have too many of this idols… is that a sign that we lost the real God? (And what if He really existed, and maybe even resurrected?! OMG!!! (In it’s real, deep sense…)

I see the analogy between caged lions and wild lions as perfectly reasonable:

The lions at the zoo are fed daily. They don’t have to work as hard to simply survive. The wild lions on the other hand are in a fight for their lives every single day.

Seems logical to me. Right now, I prefer to be fed (paid), rather than fight for my life every day when my family depends on me.

Hello Josh.

Have you ever heard of the Wizard from Menlo Park? He loved technology. He loved it so much, he started a few companies. Managing his businesses never detracted from his genius, instead the money he made allowed him to pursue more ideas.

As the master of his own destiny, Thomas Edison had the freedom to attack any problem he set his mind to. As a self-made man, he had the money to back those attacks up.

You, on the other hand, can only achieve whatever Google and it’s box of toys lets you achieve. You don’t have the resources or the connections required to chase after ideas that are outside Google’s scope.

You are limited by your corporate masters. You may love those limitations, but don’t try to dress them up like they’re some kind of advantage. They aren’t. You are only as good Google allows you to be.

It would take thousands of you to replace a single Edison.

You might not have the confidence to be an Edison, but I’m sure that’s also because you don’t have the talent or the vision to be one.

A lot of people start companies because they see something that other people don’t. A solution to a problem or the answer to a tricky question. Something opaque and obscure to the rest of the world is clear in their mind. These people know that if they’re going to translate their vision into reality, they’re going to have to be their own bosses. Because no one else can see what they see.

Visionaries don’t make good employees.
You don’t have a vision.
That’s why you’re an employee.

Can we please stop assuming that every time someone says something general they mean it to apply to -every single instance ever-? This argument occurs over and over and over and over. Person A says something general “women are stupid.” Person B takes it as a literal statement that Person A is claiming that -all- women are stupid, and gets offended. Person A was just sad that his girlfriend broke up with him and was annoyed, but Person B is already in the offense zone.

Seriously, PG is not a moron. He’s obviously not claiming that ALL employment experiences are equivalent to being caged. But Some Are.

We all need to stop treating people (like PG) as authorities and treat them as what they are - people saying things they believe. Take them or leave them. Getting offended is horribly counterproductive.

So, you’re saying someone wrote an opinion piece on the internet and you disagree? 9 paragraphs of disagreement? Who’s the narcissist here, chummy?

Shorter Paul Graham: “Let them eat cake.” That he’s so dismissive of the idea that people might value security, or have immediate responsibilities that mean risk outweighs reward, is deeply depressing. It’s spoken from the position of someone who doesn’t have to worry about paying the bills.

(I notice that his bio has no mention of family. That might be a matter of personal privacy; it might be something else.)

There’s an interesting a href=""culture clash/a, too: when Graham makes his ‘sleep under your desk’ pitch to British and European tech types, the instinctive reaction is to cringe at sub-Randian ‘self-actualisation through individual capitalism’ claptrap.

I’m going to have to agree with alot of the other comments here. While I found that particular paragraph you’ve written about a little bit offensive - an entire post to disagree is a href=“” overkill/a.

overkill - a href=""

I completely agree. Paul has always been a bit of an egoist , but lately he’s getting way to full of himself. There are many ways to skin a cat. Starting anew comapny that he funds at Y combinator isn’t the only way to “get rich”. Plus ARC sucks.

Caged monkey with stock options.

‘I work with young startup founders in their twenties. They’re geniuses, and play by their own rules. Oh… you haven’t founded a company? You suck.’

As uncomfortable as it may seem I believe this statement to be true. But the opposite does not hold true eiher. You might have founded a company and you could still suck. So I also understand why you think PG’s full of it. Writing about “the one and only path to happiness” is just a dash short of conformism in a much much more naive way.

I see lot’s of people disagreeing with your blog entry here :), but I think that is because you ranted about something that conveys a true message in a defective form. So it seems that you are ranting about the message instead of the form. Or it is how people perceive it. People are fun when it comes to perceiving.

So, you’re saying someone wrote an opinion piece on the internet and you disagree?

Well, I disagree, AND I’m one of those super-genius-startup Paul Graham approved types now. I work from home building a web property to be announced soon. Yep, I do whatever I want, all day long. No bosses keeping me down! I am a lion in the wild, TEN TIMES MORE ALIVE THAN EVERYONE ELSE, veritably bursting with fruit flavor!

I’m following his advice-- 15 years too late, but nonetheless-- and I still think his blanket “startups are awesome, everyone else is wasting their time at dead-end jobs” essay is incredibly self-serving and patronizing to every kind of employee in the world. Am I the only person who has had jobs I loved?

Look, startups are great, but they’re not the one-size-fits-all, good-for-what-ails-ya miracle tonic that Graham appears to be selling in that essay.

Also, I don’t care what Paul Graham says, pizza is awesome and any self-respecting programmer should be ashamed to say otherwise.

That’s all.

I have to completely disagree. I took advantage of people leaving for startups in order to make more money in the defense industry. I was able to retire at 32. I’m now 34, able to do anything with my time (volunteer, prototype, play games, host parties), and I’m extremely happy and alive.

I more and more believe that founders are the idiots and less intelligent than employees or a civil servant. They are risking so much and spending so much time on so little chance. Founders are not free man, they are slaves of the customers or/and the investors. An employee has much more freedom: He could quit his job at every point and try something new or more fun than to grease honey around the mouth of a customer or investor.
He could neglect some duties, he could go home on time, he could sleep well all night.
Of course, life as a founder has its advantages, because you could - at least theoretically - do whatever you want, but of course you have much more responsibilities and to bear the consequences of every doing.

A lion could be killed by another lion, or starve a cowardly death of hunger. A thing that does not happen in a zoo, but out in the savanny it happens every day.

"Have you ever heard of the Wizard from Menlo Park? He loved technology. He loved it so much, he started a few companies. Managing his businesses never detracted from his genius, instead the money he made allowed him to pursue more ideas."
Have you ever heard of Ithamar Chase who started up a startup, failed to establish himself properly, lost all his money, and died, leaving his family destitute and broken?
No, because he never got books written about him. Because he failed. His son got books written about him, because he was Secretary of the Treasury in President Lincoln’s govt.
Oh, and you may have forgotten the part where Edison used ruthless propaganda and amoral business tactics to crush his opposition. Edison loved technology so much, he promoted defective technology in order to make himself richer and richer.
Oh, and to claim that he was a talented genius is slightly misleading. What he was was dedicated to his work, and willing to put in more time than his competition. It’s rarely about intelligence.

"Also, I don’t care what Paul Graham says, pizza is awesome and any self-respecting programmer should be ashamed to say otherwise."
I lol’ed on this one :smiley:

I like people watching as much as the next guy, but to draw such conclusions from a casual observance is ludicrous. Even animals in the zoo are studied in their own zoo habitat. Maybe if he were to go to the company in question and spend a day with these people, he might learn something. He obviously had an agenda and used this silly instance to talk about it.

@erhan turel
"As uncomfortable as it may seem I believe this statement to be true."

Well then, clearly it is. So any of us who don’t decide to start a startup suck, huh?
Let’s examine this lil’ belief.
“Will we make more money?” Not on average, no. For every Brin and Page, there’s a hell of a lot of nobodies who lose their life savings and go into debt.
“Will we have more spare time?” By god, no. Successful startups require a degree of dedication and commitment to your work stronger than practically anything else in the world.
“Will we feel more satisfied with our work?” Considering how many startups are based around making copies of existing ideas, we probably shouldn’t. The fact that we do is partly down to this concept that startups are “better”. In the UK, I think it’s less strong than in America, where it’s literally the national dream.
“Will we be more famous?” Actually, you have a better chance of making a name for yourself as an employee in a big company, with big connections, than you do as “1 of the 7 of the 10” in a startup. If you’re not the guy with the big idea, nobody’s interested, no matter how high you rise.
“Will we be more in control?” Depends how successful at business you are. There are plenty of stories of successful ideas where the original engineers lost everything due to someone with more business smarts funding them, outmanoeuvering them, and seizing control of the company/idea.
What I find most interesting about the YC site is that it’s not immediately obvious from the FAQ what will happen if you fail. And that’s important. Possibly nobody’s frequently asking that question, but they probably should.

What I would agree with is that if you ever want to do it, you should do it when you’re single, and no-one’s depending on you. Just like a Casino. But after you’ve lost $60,000 on the roulette wheel, claiming that the guy with that money in a Savings Account “sucks” will seem that little bit more ironic.

I’d also be interested to know how many people on either side are or have been actually part of a startup, and at what stage.
I’m currently in a Graduate Scheme at a big company. Don’t know if I’ll stay with them after the terms are up, don’t know if I’ll go somewhere smaller, don’t know if I’ll start my own business.

That was supposed to look like:

“the majority are well worth your time. That’s more than I can say for 99.9-infinitely-repeating-percent of the content on the web”.

Come on Jeff, think back to 7th grade. Which of the following is true:

0.999… 1.0

0.999… == 1.0

0.999… 1.0

Paul’s “How to do Philosophy” was the killer for me. Since I majored in it, the hubris was painfully clear.

When I thought of how others would perceive the article, I realized it was how I had thought about his LISP statements: I don’t know LISP, and only have a vague idea that others thought he was worth listening to.

So thanks Jeff, for helping change the attitude that he’s worth reading.