I should say the reason I picked up Outliers in the first place was that a friend mentioned that he thought it explained something I’d been curious about. Specifically, The Economist proclaimed that Will Wilkinson, Ezra Klein, Megan McArdle, and myself were the public intellectuals of the future. To which I remarked:
I think it would be strange if the main qualification for becoming a high-profile public intellectual in the future is that you had to start a personal blog in 2002 or 2003.
Gladwell’s book is all about why this sort of thing happens. Rob Pitingolo spells out the argument in detail and observes that it’s analogous to Gladwell’s argument about super-rich software entrepreneurs. Except that even successful bloggers don’t really get to be super-rich, and certainly not Bill Gates rich. But it’s a very similar thing where, yes, you need to work hard but also you need to have been the beneficiary of some pretty lucky breaks to even be in a position where you have the possibility of working hard.