Named and Unnamed Roles

Markets need a certain amount of legibility to operate well. For example, currencies are a legible trustworthy store of value by which all other things can be measured, which makes market transaction much easier than barter where the cost of goods being traded fluctuates often enough that it's not really possible to easily keep in mind how much value is being traded.

This can be a problem for certain types of people because there exist certain roles in society which are hugely important and contribute a lot of value, but don't have names, or are misleadingly named. For example, one role that usually doesn't have a name is 'person that makes illegible things legible'. This role certainly exists however and comes in many guises. A good legislator for example has to figure out how to model reality and make it lay down in the right ways for their regulation to work. An investment bankers job is to figure out the true economic value of things and contribute to the process that gives them a clear determination of value.

The reason why this is problematic for some people is that if The Thing They Do is unnamed, or has been cleaved at the joints of reality poorly by a template they don't fit into, then the market can't really find a good value for it. Especially in large organizations where ideally every person should be replaceable, unique illegible individuals who contribute lots of value are an existential risk because it's not clear where you go to get another one if the one you have disappears. For this reason such people often end up as founders. Steve Jobs is one example. It's difficult to say exactly what it is Steve Jobs did, yes he's a CEO, but he's also a human computer interaction specialist, and a manager, and some other things besides. The problem is that when Steve Jobs died, investors in Apple weren't exactly sure where they would find a replacement, if it's even possible in principle to find a replacement. Once you define the essence of a role and can start typing people into it, then you can begin to screen and train people for that role and thereby provide massive value by duplicating what would otherwise be a one-off high value contributor.

The process by which the original person who becomes a template for these roles is developed remains somewhat mysterious to me, and I think merits investigation.