Monday, December 10, 2007

Nerds and Hippies

"Nerds typically know forty-six different ways to make love but don't know any women.
Hippies know women."

*** *** ***

為我的project做準備時,在看一本書 - Accidental Empires.
書裏講的是八九十年代美國的矽谷。那群好像永遠沒有脫離大學生涯的小子如何翻手為雲,覆手為雨。
才看幾頁,就發現了以下這段對programmer的描述,令我在地鐵中咭咭笑了出來:

*** *** ***

Nearly all great programmers are one type or the other.

Hippie programmers have long hair and deliberately, even pridefully, ignore the seasons in their choice of clothing. They wear shorts and sandals in the winter and T-shirts all the time.
Nerds are neat little anal-retentive men with penchants for short-sleeved shirts and pocket protectors.

Nerds carry calculators;
Hippies borrow calculators.

Nerds use decongestant nasal sprays;
Hippies snort cocaine.

Nerds typically know forty-six different ways to make love but don't know any women.
Hippies know women.

...

In the way that hippies and nerds write computer programs...

Hippies tend to do the right things poorly;
nerds tend to do the wrong things well.

Hippie programmers are very good at getting a sense of the correct shape of a problem and how to solve it, but when it comes to the actual code writing, they can get sloppy and make major errors through pure boredom.

For hippie programmers, the problem is solved when they've figured out how to solve it rather than later, when the work is finished and the problem no longer exiets.
Hippies live in a world of ideas.

In contrast, the nerds are so tightly focused on the niggly details of making a program feature work efficiently that they can completely fail to notice major flaws in the overall concept of the project.

...

With the hippies dreaming and the nerds codeing, a good combination of the two can help keep a software development project both on course and on schedule.

The real problem is finding such super-programmers in the first place.
Often they hide.

*** *** ***

說起當今電腦界最出色的nerd與hippie,很難想不到他們:
(www.uweb.ucsb.edu/~manpreet_singh/Bill_Gates.jpg)

可惜,他們分道揚鏣。
換上另一個人吧。我認為以下才是nerd-hippie combination的一時經典:

Steve Jobs和Steve Wozniak。
在Nerd與Hippie的光譜上,他倆各自佔據極端。而他們開拓了盛世。
現在大家明白,為什麼Apple是個傳奇。

我把我所認識的那群web2.0的小子,在心裏迅速地「分類」了一下,結果…
其中一個,外型正經八百,說話有條不紊,但他唸書時,曾兼職為報章撰寫風月版;
另外一個,即使已獲以百萬計的注資,最愛的衣著,仍然是T恤/短褲/波鞋,座名銘是「最緊要office有薯片同可樂」。

然後忽然明白為什麼aNobii仍在艱苦經營。
可憐的SHS。他一人分飾兩角。

Related Reads:
情人和知己
When Gates meets Jobs
Mark Zuckerberg(當代最hip的hippie)

18 comments:

David Lee said...

Hey, Leona,

I really like this piece! Have just shared this with my partners.

You know what, I'm a fan of your blog, too!

David
EditGrid Team

leona said...

Oh, David....
Thank you :)
When you come back we have to meet!

Sun Bin said...

"Nerds carry calculators;
Hippies borrow calculators."

this si so not true. the writer does not know nerd. nerds do not carry calculator, they do not need calculators to calculate. 心算。

暗黑的卡夫卡 said...

Frankly I think this is just a generalization of people with "creative" mind versus people with
"analytical" mind. You can change it to "thinker" and "doer" and it still holds.

The women part crack me up though...so nerd + hippie = porn star?

Hm...

暗黑的卡夫卡 said...

Oh btw...Steve Wozniak > Steve Jobs. Anytime.

But both are people with passion...thats for sure!

"Think different and Do what you want to do." S.Wozniak

"...the only way to do great work is to love what you do." S. Jobs

Kris said...

年前參加左個科大既電腦 programming 課程。
若按文中分類,有大量聰明到變態既 nerd,programming skills 實在好厲害,不過無乜新/好橋,最多都係玩下 adsense。

識兩個算hippies:
一個有一大堆屎橋,成鬼日想發達,搞到入唔到大學宜家屈係屋企自修重考。惟一傑作係寫左個「港女」界遠近馳名既閃字機,又比佢搵左幾萬。
http://www.fx-word.com/fw.php

另一個屎橋更多,不過因為programming 麻麻人又懶,條屎橋就算幾得都好唔係爛尾就係根本唔識寫出黎。

hippies 要突圍而出其實都唔係咁易呢,似乎有好多條件配合。

Uta - http://utalam.wordpress.com said...

Leona,

I really enjoy reading your post.

Your post made me think of a new TV series from CBS called "The Big
Bang Theory". It's quite funny! And also Paul Graham's Why Nerds are Unpopular (http://www.paulgraham.com/nerds.html)

Uta

Official Website:
http://alpha.cbs.com/primetime/big_bang_theory/

A sneek peek @ Youtube:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5fnt-KWnLgU

Anonymous said...

"Hippies know women."
講笑嗎還是英文不好?明瞭此書作者所說的情況,但用詞嘛,不感茍同。

leona said...

sun bin:
Hahahaha. It's hilarious.
Are you a nerd? lol.
:p

Dear Kafka / Anon@5:51AM
Hahaha. Don't be serious.
I think the writer simply meant that both nerds and hippies are smart. Yet they are smart in different ways.
Let's forget about "women" and use this analogy and you will understand:

Bill Gates moves software. Steve Jobs moves people.

Kafka, "thinker" and "doer" is ok.
But these words are simply not sexy enough.
:)

Kafka / Kris:
我想你們說出了這些super-programmers的兩大特徵:
very intelligent.
very passionate.

Kris, 你說的例子,不正是:
“nerds do wrong things well, hippies tend to do right things poorly“嗎?
“寫左個「港女」界遠近馳名既閃字機”--哎呀,真是笑死我:)
Kris, 他們要突圍而出,方法可以很簡單:
Pair up the nerds and the hippies.
Yeah. Pair them up.
試試看。
:)

Uta:
Thanks a lot, girl!
I like Paul Graham too - "there's a strong correlation between being smart and being a nerd, and an even stronger INVERSE correlation between being a nerd and being popular".
lol.

Anonymous said...

>> Hahaha. Don't be serious.

也是。不過,非nerd即hippie?失笑。怎樣放寬hippie的定義也講不通。好啦,不去認真看待就是。講完飄走。

leona said...

anon:
先不要認真呵──借沈旭暉成日掛在口邊的話:不必二元分化。
我比較傾向去想,並不是要把那些super programmers分成兩種人,非A即B。
而是把他們放在一個由nerd到hippie組成的光譜上,你會看到,某個好叻的programmer,大概是比較接近哪一種。
呢,留言的Kris就明白了,所以他可以馬上recall他所見過的那些超醒的programmers,並用作者這個片面的角度去比較之。

VC said...

替programmer們賣賣廣告:

他們是好老公!

leona said...

VC:
是的是的
以後我會和女友們多多留意身邊的programmer了
:)

Anonymous said...

Leona,

我喜歡Accidental Empires這個名字,人生何嘗不是這樣?勁黑色幽默,嘻!:P:P:P

Daniel.

leona said...

daniel:
不但書名改得好,作者也很幽默,不錯的這本書。

mama4 said...

對其實我愛這篇。之前沒有留言是因為我妒忌nerds的腦和hippies的hip。今天再看,咦其實我也有長髮並會(although not pridefully) ignore the seasons in my choice of clothing

leona said...

阿四:
是啊,我等凡人,希望自己有hippie的hip和nerd的brainy,其實我們只有兩者的缺點...如hippie的懶,和nerd的呆。

:)

Kempton said...

Hi Leona,

Thanks for link back to this entry. It brings back some nice memory of me reading this book when it was first published some years ago. (one of the last few Gates/MSFT books that I read) It is also interesting to read some of your readers' comments (unexpectedly cute in a Hong Kong kind of way).

I thought you might find this 2007 chat between Steve Jobs and Bill Gates (on the same stage) interesting to watch. Here is part 1 of a 7 parts series (the other parts are linked there),
http://d5.allthingsd.com/20070530/steve-jobs-and-bill-gates-together-part-1-of-7/
Not sure if your readers would care though (smile).