1. What is the most important skill every programmer should posses?
Good "taste". Communication skills and expression in writing. Strong sense of value of what you are doing is worth. Concentration. Passion. Self motivation. Think clearly. Prefer evidence over intuition.
2. What will be the next big thing in computer programming?
Web application programming will replace any GTK, Java Swing, Qt, Win32, MFC, etc. Real AI can change the current incremental trends in programming. Large-scale distributed processing. But many great programmers admit that they can't and don't want to predict future.
3. Why are some programmers 10 or 100 times more productive than others?
Ability to restate hard problems as easy ones. Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration. Ability to fit the whole problem in their heads at ones. Care about what they do. They don't rush and slap things together, but have holistic picture of what is to be built. Knowledge of tools.
4. What are the most important tools?
Python, Lisp, Emacs, SVN, MySQL, GIMP, Firefox, TextMate, Pine, Ruby, make, TeX, vi, Unix, sam, bash -- they all are extensible. Learn everything in /bin and /usr/bin on Unix.
My take on the articles is that there is something common among all great programmers -- modesty, persistence, self motivation, taste, and extensive knowledge of useful tools.
I suggest also read this great article on how to recognize great programmers. If you want to be successful as a programmer I also suggest reading this book.