Cutting metal in a fiery blaze…

…or, Thoughts on sending an elf to do a dwarf’s work.

Neal Stephenson, author of the outstanding cyberpunk novel Cryptonomicon, divides the world into three sorts of people: Elves, Dwarves, and Men. Most people, he says, are Men. They do whatever it is they do for a living, and that’s about it.

Elves, by way of contrast, are theorists. They create novel things, or explore in novel ways; Thomas Edison was an elf, as was Albert Einstein.

Dwarves are the ones who take the theory and turn it into reality. Henry Ford was a dwarf; he took an idea already invented, the automobile, and figured out a way to produce it so that it was within reach of everyone.

I am an elf. Most particularly, I like designing unconventional toys for grownups.

So why was I up until one o’clock in the morning yesterday with lordfuckbeast, cutting metal to build a plastic molding machine to put this novel toy into production? Because when you don’t have a very large amount of seed capital behind you, sometimes an elf must do double-shift as a dwarf, as well. (As a side note, lordfuckbeast maintains that prototyping is elf’s work; I say, Building equipment for production is dwarf’s work. So there.)

So there it is. An elf can, sometimes, do a dwarf’s work, though dwarves’ work is a nasty business that makes one quite grimy and tired.

And off I go to Valentine’s Day dinner with kellyv. For the evening, I shall be neither elf nor dwarf.