St. Nick: High-Tech Elf
The Internet and online shopping have changed forever the Christmas season, but how has technology changed the way Santa Claus does his job? Tallahassee Magazine writer Jason Dehart was granted an exclusive interview with the Jolly Ol’ Elf and discovered a few surprising facts.
TM: Santa, you’ve been in this toy-giving business for generations. How do you keep pace with technology?
SC: Ho, ho, ho! Well, first of all, I’m all about technology. I’ve got an eight-reindeer open sleigh that can travel at Mach 3,000. I defy conventional space-time physics. Cloning has enabled me to create a work force of 300,000 talented elves — gnomes, actually — who manufacture more than 350,000 tons of presents every year. I have a Web server capable of handling 65 million e-mails every holiday season. On top of that, I see you when you’re sleeping, I know when you’re awake … you know the rest.
TM: Talk about the early days and how things changed once kids got e-mail.
SC: Two hundred years ago, when I just had a few villages to cover, it was as simple as talking to the parents. As time passed, kids began to write letters. In the early 1990s I got wind of something called “electronic mail.” Looking into my crystal snowball, I could predict the looming paradigm shift. So my engineers built a Web server, which was in place by the time children started e-mailing requests a few years later. Communications are still one-way, though. Preserves the mystery.
TM: So do you have an iPhone?
SC: I prefer to call it the iHo. I also have a BlackBerry — but I call it the “HollyBerry.” However, only the elves working in the server and switch room are allowed access to computers and the Internet. The rest of the work force is prohibited from possessing such devices.
TM: Why is that?
SC: Facebook and Twitter. We conducted an efficiency analysis with a sample group of workers and discovered they spent half their time “tweeting” and updating their Facebook status. That was unacceptable. Besides, my workers are all clones. All their “updates” looked the same. So it was an unnecessary waste of time and resources.
TM: So has technology been a hindrance or a help?
SC: Despite today’s Internet, most kids still wait till the last minute to send off their lists. Early entries we can handle pretty easily, but last-minute items drive the boys down in the shop to the point of revolt. The Kringle Militia has put down its share of uprisings in the past. I call these incidents “The Gnome Wars.”
TM: You recently changed your Web site address, correct?
SC: Yes. I now have a “dot gov” address.
TM: Why a “dot gov”?
SC: Well, with the bad economy, I had to accept some federal bailout money last year. As part of the agreement I had to become a federal agency. By the way, the government also required an energy audit. A guy from the Department of Energy was up here just the other day. But I kicked him out when he threatened to levy a “global warming tax” on the elves’ methane emissions.