It is suggested (Schumpeter In Praise of Misfits ECONOMIST vol. 403 no. 8787 June 2, 2012 page 84) that there are people with different kinds of mind who are better at different things.  Some people handle routine very well, are socially graceful and attentive to routine detail.  They make good employees in jobs where the demands are well established and the ways to meet them are rather obvious.  It’s the kind of person you would want to have as a boss, a person that is easy to read.  It is also the person you want to be in charge of purchasing if you are a manufacturing company.  If you are going to need a certain number of widgets by a certain time, somebody needs to look ahead and see that the deliveries are scheduled properly and the kind of person who will call the attention of a supplier if the deliveries are the wrong size, the wrong time or the wrong thing.

Then there are the creative sorts.  The geeks if you will.  They are less skillful socially, often having Asperger’s syndrome or attention deficit disorder or maybe their relatives do.  They tend to be chaotic of habit, constantly questioning of routine and, yes, they do seem to be able to come up with ideas and to pursue notions nobody else cares about.  The article makes an impressive compilation of the kinds of jobs these latter folk seem to be successful at and the kinds of mental traits that distinguish them. 

Well and good.  It takes all types and it’s nice to see that the community can offer opportunities and take constructive advantage of multiple types.  Certainly one cannot complain about how effective the American economic machine is.  Maybe the distribution of the rewards is distorted, but the amount of wealth turned out is beyond question.  I recently received a couple of hours of one on one explanation of the process of molding plastics.  It was amazing.  The mold is a complex, highly tuned instrument that cranks out a prodigious number of units of product.  The part I remember best is the making of plastic tops for bottles.  Once the parts have been formed by the injection of the plastic and just the right amount of cooling and hardening, they must be removed.  If it is a normal screw on top, there is a spinning gadget that twirls the cap out of the mold.  But it is possible to make a screw cap that has, instead of a single spiral ridge, a number of tiny flanges with little gaps between.  Together they make an effective screw, but now they can be forced out of the mold without spinning.  Each flange just bends under the pressure.  The cost per top?  I think he said .3 cents.  Maybe it was .03.  Anyway, it was amazingly cheap, the cheapness being the result of making them in enormous numbers with very complex and expensive equipment.  So the system works.  You can have your bottle top very cheaply, or at least the person who is selling it to you gets it cheap. 

Such amazing machinery does not run itself, although it does most of that.  And it certainly does not design itself.  That depends on the creative types who can come up with the ideas. Power to them.

All right, time for the personal note.  I don’t much warm up to the various descriptions of geekdom.  Perhaps it is lack of insight, but I am not averse to routine, rather like people, try to think ahead.  I plan my work and I work my plan.  On the other hand, when my brain starts to do things it comes up with things nobody else can see, often even after having it pointed out.  

So having been pretty much an outsider all my life I find I am an outsider even from this wide ranging analysis. 

Oh well.

Whether the result will be a remarkable social contribution or a fool’s errand is not clear.  The smart money would be on the fool’s errand side of the bet.  But I hope there are people in sufficient numbers who actually care to put the smart money to shame.

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