Graham on Great Hackers

, Aug 5, 2004

I find this one to be one of Paul Graham’s weaker essays (I can live with the Java remarks, but find the open source one to be way off), but this paragraph fascinated me:

You might think that you could make your products beautiful just by hiring a great designer to design them. But if you yourself don’t have good taste, how are you going to recognize a good designer? By definition you can’t tell from his portfolio. And you can’t go by the awards he’s won or the jobs he’s had, because in design, as in most fields, those tend to be driven by fashion and schmoozing, with actual ability a distant third. There’s no way around it: you can’t manage a process intended to produce beautiful things without knowing what beautiful is. American cars are ugly because American car companies are run by people with bad taste.