Buckminster Fuller on Change

I just discovered the Foundation for P2P Alternatives wiki, and on the main page they have a really cool quote from Buckminster Fuller, a fascinating thinker that we strangely happened to be talking about tonight after dinner.

You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.

For a bit more insight to Fuller, if you are not aware of him, here is what his wikipedia article has to say:

Throughout his life, Fuller was concerned with the question “Does humanity have a chance to survive lastingly and successfully on planet Earth, and if so, how?” Considering himself an average individual without special monetary means or academic degree, he chose to devote his life to this question, trying to find out what an individual like him could do to improve humanity’s condition that large organizations, governments, or private enterprises inherently could not do.

He came up in tonight’s conversation given his tenure at Black Mountain College, one of the truly alternative and progressive educational experiments in the US during the 20th century. It is at Black Mountain College where Fuller met Kenneth Snelson, a relationship that led to the first geodesic dome (one of the inventions Fuller believed would allow humanity to survive successfully on Earth).

As a tangent, I had one of the greatest movie experiences of my life in a geodesic dome, more specifically the Cinerama Dome watching a 70mm print of Sam Peckinpah’s The Wild Bunch.

Creative Commons License photo credit: cmpalmer

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5 Responses to Buckminster Fuller on Change

  1. Jeremy says:

    Love that first Fuller quote.

    Makes me think that if you wanted to find a better way for millions of people to learn the stuff they cared about, you’d have three main options:

    — hope and wish, but do nothing (the popular choice)
    — fight the system, from outside or within (probably the most “punk”)
    — create the alternative that makes the system obsolete (perhaps what many of the “edupunks” are trying to do on the sly)

  2. Reverend says:


    Now that’ a civil comment, I can apologize twice right?

    But I think Fuller’s hits something here that you trace well, that futility of fighting a system you don;t really care for as opposed to designing and framing your own, more modest and experimental space that makes the modes of others seem obsolete is an extremely creative approach.

  3. Steve says:

    The first Fuller quote made me think of paradigm shift. Why does the US have roughly 150 years worth of coal energy reserves? Because when petroleum was discovered to be usable for fuel, it was such an obvious and cheaper improvement that most energy consumers dropped coal like the proverbial hot potato.

  4. Reverend says:


    Ha, fascinating, we could have 150 years worth of corporate LMSs collecting dust in IT departments all over the country 😉

  5. Pingback: Der große Bruch: Warum das Netz das, was wir „Bildung” nennen, von Grund auf verändert « #pb21 | Web 2.0 in der politischen Bildung

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