Today is Buckminster Fuller's birthday. Bucky had a profound influence on my life and thinking so I was honored that LIFE invited me to write an introduction to their photo gallery. An excerpt:
"Buckminster Fuller Forever: Salute to an American Visionary" (Thanks, Ben Cosgrove!)
Bucky Fuller (b. July 12, 1895, in Massachusetts; d. July 1, 1983, in Los Angeles) was a practical philosopher who made his ideas tangible. His mediagenic inventions were vectors that spread his big ideas through popular consciousness, spurring conversations about poverty, transportation, ecology, housing, energy and other transformational topics of the day (and of future days). At the Institute for the Future, where I’m a researcher, we call this methodology “human-futures interaction.” And it works. A good “artifact from the future” will provoke the person who sees it, and touches it, to think about the future and hopefully make better decisions in the present. It’s not easy, but Bucky was a deep thinker who learned to become a great maker. He was driven by curiosity and optimism that was infectious. His dozens of books laid out plans to fix, manage or design around the world’s problems. Whether you agreed with his solutions didn’t matter much. In fact, it still doesn’t.
The real lesson in his books is in the beauty (and joy) of whole-systems thinking. Playing connect-the-dots — with science, technology, art, music, people — is one of my favorite pastimes. Re-encountering Bucky, I’m constantly reminded of how much I don’t know, the importance of unintended consequences and that the most interesting experiences, insights and breakthroughs are often found at the intersection of disciplines and, sometimes, at the very fringes of reason.