Will you invest in and/or advise our startup?
I invest in and advise startups through
Y Combinator. If you
want investment, the way to get it is to apply for our
next round of funding. If we fund you, you can have all the
advice you want (if not more).
Sorry, but I can't give advice to every startup that writes to me.
It's as much as I can do to keep up
with the ones we've funded.
Can I mirror an essay on my site?
I'd rather you linked to it instead. I like to keep track
of which ones people read, because it gives me
ideas of what to write about next. I also like to
be able to fix typos.
Can I include an essay in my school newspaper?
Sure, go ahead. Please include the url of the original
Can I put a translation into another language online?
Sure. Please include the url of the original, and send
me the url of your translation so I can make a link to it.
How long does it take you to write an essay?
Usually about two weeks. What You Can't
Say took a month, partly because the topic was so
dangerous. How to Start a Startup
took a week, because I started it a week before I had
to deliver it as a talk. Writing,
Briefly was the fastest, at just over an hour.
Why did the school authorities veto the plan to have
you give the talk that became "What You'll Wish You'd Known?"
They didn't have anything against me specifically,
but because I wouldn't be coming from any organization, they
wouldn't have any guarantee I wouldn't say dangerous things.
Whereas if I came to speak from IBM or the State Department, and told
the students they should all go out and try heroin, I'd be fired.
Which shows one reason public schools lose. A private school
would probably have taken the risk, but the administration at
a public school has to consider all the fuss parents might
make in the worst-case scenario.
Are any of your paintings online?
I don't really consider myself a painter. I was trained in painting,
but I haven't worked seriously at it for years. For the curious
there is one image online. The painting
on the cover of ANSI Common Lisp is
also one of mine.
Are you the photographer Paul Graham?
No, that's a
You say in "Taste for Makers" that setting
text in sans serif fonts was a mistake. So why do you use them
on your site?
I was talking about books. The resolution of computer
screens is much lower.
Why is the text on your site so narrow? It wastes screen space.
The aim of web design is not to use all available
screen space. It is legibility. Text is most
legible with no more than 70 characters per line.