It's The Output Stupid! (What Makes a Great Influencer, Hacker, and Writer?)

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Fountain Pen I read with amusement this recent post on Scoble’s blog in which someone writes him a note dictating the tools that “Influencers” use.

Influencers use weird crap. They use Macs and Linux, Mozilla, and other eminently hackable systems. They don’t generally run Windows and IE.

This is very similar to Paul Graham’s view of what makes a great hacker, which revolves around the tools a hacker uses.

I don’t understand this focus on trying to nail the qualities of a great person (be it hacker or influencer) by focusing on the technologies the person uses. Let’s look back at influential writers such as Shakespeare and Whitman, they used pen and paper. Aha! Great writers use Pen and Paper.

When history looks back on great writers, I guarantee you that we do not focus on the tools they used. Rather, we focused on what they did. Their output. Do I know or even care what tools Steinbeck used to write The Grapes Of Wrath or Silvia Plath used to write Ariel? Hardly. It’s the legacy of their work and accomplishments that are remembered.

Call To Action Stop wasting your time trying to find the root of greatness by taking your narrow microscope and examining the tools a great person uses. This is as effective as documenting a randomly chosen idiosyncratic tick a person has to determine the cause of his or her influence. You’re trying to push an agenda and you’re not helping anyone. If you want to be a great hacker, influencer, or writer, focus on the necessary skills instead.

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