The sad thing is that young people have now been terrified by the Impact and H factors, and I can’t give them much hope. When I published my first paper in 1967 (J. Chem. Soc. (now the RSC), Chemical Communications) I did it because I had a piece of science I was excited about and wanted to tell the world about. That ethos has gone. It’s now “I have to publish X first author-papers in Y journals with impact factors great than Z”.As a service to those young people, I'd like to make clear that, at least at my institution, the “I have to publish X first author-papers in Y journals with impact factors great than Z” approach is not actually suitable, and you should focus on the "I had a piece of science I was excited about and wanted to tell the world about" approach.
I'm not being naive. Citation counts certainly arise in promotion and tenure cases. They're a piece of information, and we look at them. But just as your GRE score won't get you into (one of the top-tier) graduate schools, your h-index is not going to get you tenure (or a grant, or an award, or...)
When you come up for promotion, we ask for letters. Some letters will mention your citation counts or your h-index as a way of providing evidence that you've done interesting and important work, and that's all well and good. Then, what we look for, is an explanation from the scientist as to why they think your work is interesting and important. Arguably, the best way to get your letter-writers to write a good case for why your work is interesting and important is to do work that you're excited and want to tell the world about. Because if you are excited and go tell the world, repeatedly and with energy, the word will get out, and get to the ears of those scientists who are going to write your letters.
Of course, even ignoring those employment-relate aspects, doing science you're excited about is just more fun.
I wonder if the author of this blog post is correct in the characterization of young people, as the idea is a bit foreign to me. In theory, of course, we have some great role models; I don't think Les Valiant, Jon Kleinberg, David Karger, Cynthia Dwork, and so on spend their time worrying about their h-index. They just want to do cool stuff (and, as far as I've known them, always have -- it's not a "now-that-they're senior" thing). But just in case, let's make sure the correlation/causation message gets out right:
cool work, excitement, and enthusiasm tends to yield high citation counts and maybe h-indexes
citations are not how we define or even measure cool work, excitement, and enthusiasm