I don’t know why I didn’t think of this at the time of writing the original article on superbureaucrats and geniuses, but at least iSteve put me on to it now.
More important than the things he invented though was the technique he developed for it. After a fashion (James Burke did), you could say that Edison invented inventing. He came up with the modern R&D cycle, which consists of (as Burke put it): Identify a market, get backing before you start, publicize it ahead of time so the public is willing to pay for it, and plough back the profits into making more inventions. He also developed the world’s first real R&D team—his numerous and largely unsung assistants, working hard on inventions for which Edison would get all the credit (eventually, he had the sense to start crediting things to his corporation, about which see below); before this, invention was usually one guy or a few, and it wasn’t their only job.https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/UsefulNotes/ThomasEdison
Edison was a superbureaucrat:
A superbureaucrat isn’t so much a great scientist and he is a great manager of scientists. A good modern example is David Reich. He may not be personally brilliant, but he gets the Nobel for the DNA industrial complex he organizes. A good historical example is J. Robert Oppenheimer.
Superbureaucrats are often mistaken for geniuses (and just as often mistake themselves for geniuses) because this designation denotes brilliance and high status, both of which superbureaucrats possess in spades and crave more of. However, they are very different to the trained eye.
Since the phenomenon of genius is well studied at this point, I’ll only be illustrating the superbureaucrat type.
The easiest way to discern a superbureaucrat from a genius is to ask them their opinions on intellectual property. Geniuses are notoriously antimaterialistic…Superbureaucrats, on the other hand, take the view of creation as an act of synthesis, of conscientiously compiling and mixing a great deal of information together in a big pot….They consider this compiling and mixing to be “cognitive work”, the act of iteratively micro-innovating a macroinnovation, rather than a personal mission to which all other happiness must be sacrificed.
An alchemist’s understanding of creativity is additive and encyclopedic, mistaking 1-to-N recombinations and subversions of stock ideas for “disruption”.
Where a superbureaucrat would compile an entire encyclopedia on London full of nuance and historical context, a genius is more likely to describe it as “a vast cesspool of ugly people and hideous architecture circumscribing an excellent library and two passable researchers” and leave it at that.
As an aside, WordPress has finally succeeded in their long quest to make the basic editor unusable (and you have to pay to switch back to the old one), which means the blog will have to move sooner rather than later. Thanks for the kick guys, I can get pretty lazy when it comes to purely technical projects.