I've just finished reading Hackers and Painters: Essays on the Art of Programming by Paul Graham. The brief synopsis is:
In most fields the great work is done early on. The paintings made between 1430 and 1500 are still unsurpassed. Shakespeare appeared just as professional theater was being born, and pushed the medium so far that every playwright since has had to live in his shadow. Albrecht Durer did the same thing with engraving, and Jane Austen with the novel.
Over and over we see the same pattern. A new medium appears, and people are so excited about it that they explore most of its possibilities in the first couple generations. Hacking seems to be in this phase now.
Painting was not, in Leonardo's time, as cool as his work helped make it. How cool hacking turns out to be will depend on what we can do with this new medium.
It's well worth a read, very thought provoking on the development of server based software. However it gets a little evangalistic over the use of Lisp towards the end, which has half persuaded me to take a look and see what the fuss is if I get the time.