Tools Don’t Make The Person

As an investigator, it can be easy to get caught up in the all the glitz and glamor of super sophisticated tools and gadgets. Software that bounces off satellites, computers so tripped out they even have fancy lights, and such a massive array of bookmarks it takes you hours to skim through and make use of them.

It can be true for writing as well. Scrivener, Final Draft, MS Word, Google Docs…then you find yourself wanting a YouTube presence so you purchase Adobe Premiere, Final Cut, a camera and microphones. Not to mention fancy writing journals, a vault full of pens and pencils, and an ever growing collection of things meant to inspire. This can be in the form of posters, models, pictures, sculptors, a music collection, figures or statues, or even pricey wall art.

I’ve seen some people spend upwards of $20k to upgrade their office area. But does the $2k chair, $5k computer, and $3k camera make you a better writer? Does the $40k a year software truly make you a better investigator? I believe that tools are meant to make our lives easier, but they’ll never make up for shortcomings in talent and skill. In other words, tools are great and can be effective. But don’t mistake them for being anything other than what they are: a tool. A tool is not a writer. A tool is not an investigator. Anymore than a paintbrush is an artist, a water hose a firefighter, or a plunger a plumber.

We have a saying in martial arts that a belt’s color means nothing in the street. Call yourself a 20th degree grand master black belt in the dojo, but if you don’t have the skill to back up the belt, any old random person will give you a five knuckle lesson in landing on your back.

Tools for OSINT are great, but any professional will tell you the scene is an ever changing, ever growing landscape. So, if you become dependent on any given tool, you will become useless in the long run. And that expensive software you just bought, writer person? That novel won’t write itself. Just like the toilet doesn’t unclog itself just because you set a plunger next to it. The dryer won’t fix itself just because you set a tool bag on top of it. Tools are great for convenience, but they are not a substitute for hard work.

For an investigator, a cyber sleuth, a computer forensic expert and an All Source Analyst, a proper foundation is built upon an understanding of investigative methodologies and analytical techniques. The art form of deduction and the role of critical thinking can never be overstated. The ability to constantly adapt, think outside the box, and fully grasp the scientific method are mandatory requirements. Put flashy hardware and expensive software in the hands of such a capable sleuth, and magic happens. The full potential of any given tool can only be achieved by a professional who has taken the time to lay a proper foundation.

The same goes for writing. A professional writer doesn’t wait for inspiration. Nor are they reliant on sophisticated software or expensive hardware. Sure, tools are nice. They’ll lead to better results, better quality, better product. But incredible tools in the hands of an amateur can’t equal the work of a professional limited to napkins and a chewed up pencil.

Whatever your trade, identify the proper foundations, hone your skills and talent, and become comfortable in your profession before you start adding a bunch of tools to your closet. You may find a lot of the tools you thought you needed have become unnecessary. And you also are now able to identify the rights tools for the right job at the right time, maximizing your success on any given project. And above all else, always remember that tools are just tools and nothing more.

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