I need to build a house, what kind of hammer should I buy?
I want to write a novel. What word processor do you recommend?
Yesterday on the radio, Jimmy Wales was talking about the Wikipedia movement. A caller who identified himself as a strategist at Amnesty International asked: We’re going to build a website to promote freedom and democracy and human rights. What software should we use?
If you want to do something worth doing, you’ll need two things: passion and architecture. The tools will take care of themselves. (Knowledge of tools matters, of course, but it pales in comparison to the other two.)
Sure, picking the wrong tools will really cripple your launch. Picking the wrong software (or the wrong hammer) is a hassle. But nothing great gets built just because you have the right tools.
My approach is to make an assertion about tools early in the process, and then move on to a solid draft of the good stuff. "Given: that we can make a computer do what xyz.com makes it do. Or, given: we can make a piece of titanium do what Frank Gehry makes it do." Then, go design something, imagine it, spec it, flesh it out and fall in love with it. Now you can ask Jimmy Wales what sort of software to use.