Guide You Belong to the Universe: Buckminster Fuller and the Future

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Buckminster Fuller

Buy It Now. Add to cart. Be the first to write a review About this product. About this product Product Information Without doubt, the inventor Buckminster "Bucky" Fuller was a visionary. A self-professed "comprehensive anticipatory design scientist" Fuller's creations often bordered on the realm of science fiction, ranging from the geodesic dome to the three-wheel Dymaxion car to a bathroom requiring neither plumbing nor sewage. Yet in spite of his brilliant mind and life-long devotion to serving mankind, Fuller is now renowned for the wrong reasons, and even regarded as a crackpot.

You Belong to the Universe documents Fuller's six-decade quest to "make the world work for one hundred percent of humanity. Keats argues that Fuller's life and ideas, namely doing "the most with the least," are now more relevant than ever as humanity struggles to meet the demands of an exploding world population with finite resources. Delving deeply into Buckminster Fuller's colorful world, Keats applies Fuller's most important concepts to present-day issues, arguing that his ideas are now not only feasible, but necessary.

Much more than a mere biography, this book challenges each of us to become comprehensive anticipatory design scientists, providing the necessary tools for continuing Fuller's important legacy of improving the world. Thorough and engaging, You Belong to the Universe reveals that Buckminster Fuller truly was one of the greatest minds of our time. A self-professed "comprehensive anticipatory design scientist," the inventor Buckminster Fuller was undoubtedly a visionary. Fuller's creations often bordered on the realm of science fiction, ranging from the freestanding geodesic dome to the three-wheel Dymaxion car to a bathroom requiring neither plumbing nor sewage.

Yet in spite of his brilliant mind and life-long devotion to serving mankind, Fuller's expansive ideas were often dismissed, and have faded from public memory since his death. From transportation to climate change, urban design to education, You Belong to the Universe demonstrates that Fuller's holistic problem-solving techniques may be the only means of addressing some of the world's most pressing issues. Keats's timely book challenges each of us to become comprehensive anticipatory design scientists, providing the necessary tools for continuing Fuller's legacy of improving the world.

Reviews: "A wonderfully written and highly necessary book about one of the 20th century's most enigmatic outliers. I think that his recognition of ephmeralization, what he referred to as moving from the track to the trackless and from a wire to the wireless is very much where our society has gone. The basic idea that is so profound is that you can replace materials with design—that by designing well you no longer need the materials to do the job the design is doing.

The geodesic dome is an easy example of that, when you compare the amount of material used in a geodesic dome to a building made of concrete. So, take the Internet of things. What we really are talking about there is how, when everything is smart and able to communicate with everything else, a large part of the physical infrastructure that we previously had is no longer necessary.

The Internet, ultimately, really is probably the best example of a ephemeralization. When everyone can access the same computing resources by way of the network, you no longer need the redundancy of those computing resources.

Some of these efficiencies were pretty odd—housing units transported by zeppelins, for example. Did he really think they would happen, or were they thought experiments? I don't think that he ever said anything by way of a thought experiment. The specificity with which he went about his drawings of zeppelins, and figuring out you just drop a bomb in order to be able to make the hole that the city goes into This way of thinking about housing as something that could be anywhere and that people could be mobile both in terms of where they live and I think by implication by their relationships with each other was very interesting.

But when he got to saying he would drop a bomb and pour concrete into the hole—then he lost everyone, or most everyone, including Albert Einstein apparently.


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He had great connections, powerful connections, powerful friends, throughout the US government and also within the United Nations. As a result of this, he could get around and get his ideas in front of people but I think it's also really important to recognize that he was doing things that were highly useful to the US government. He was not only a visionary in both the positive and negative sense, but he was also genuinely an engineer who was making useful machines, useful forms of architecture that were and that are still being used within the US and the world as a whole.

Speaking of making things, he talks about kids needing to take things apart and put them back together. You link that to the Maker Movement, but perhaps not quite as the movement might like.


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I started machining and metalworking and woodworking in high school, and I continue to use those skills in terms of making things—but those skills very much inform my way of thinking. So I am deeply sympathetic to what Fuller was doing and talking about in terms of the exploratory potential of taking things apart and putting them back together again.

I think that that the Maker Movement has enlarged that and popularized that in a very positive way. Where I think the Maker Movement diverges from what Fuller was idealizing is that much of it has taken on a kit mentality. Much of it has become project-based and limited in terms of the exploratory potential. You don't have the opportunity to tangibly explore the world in an open-ended, curiosity-driven, serendipitous way.

When most people think about design, they think about making pretty things that will change the world. Fuller was less interested in making pretty things than in changing the world.

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Is there a way to reconcile that? It is interesting to look at the Dymaxion car as the iPhone 6 of its time. It was a beautiful object.

Ephemeralization - Doing more with less - Buckminster Fuller (animated clip)

What is instructive about that is the Dymaxion car managed, by virtue of its sheer beauty and its sheer stylishness, to capture people's imaginations. But that took the emphasis away from the problem Fuller sought to solve.

Buckminster Fuller and the Future

The reason for making that Dymaxion car was, well, if you are going to be delivering housing by zeppelin and they are going to be all over the place, they are not necessarily going to have roads to get between one and another, so you better have roadable aircraft. The beauty of the car got in the way of the idea underlying the car, this whole idea of mobilizing society, of destabilizing the economic structures that had put so many people into a state of irreconcilable poverty.

Technology has become so much about the beauty of the object that we risk making the same sort of mistake that happened with the Dymaxion car. We risk not really ever understanding or engaging in the technology in its own right and simply taking it up because it's so seductive. I don't get the sense that Facebook wants you to understand how Facebook works under the skin. I don't get the sense that Tesla wants you to know how Tesla works under the skin.

I don't think that any of these companies really are invested in that. And in spite of all of the ways in which they may be beneficial to society more broadly—electric cars can certainly be beneficial as opposed to those that are driven by fossil fuels—and the fact that Tesla showed very early on that those cars could be powerful, that they could be beautiful, the sorts of things that we never imagined they could be, that is a genuine contribution to our future. And the research that has gone into the batteries is in fact a very significant contribution, potentially, in terms of collecting alternate energy and using it in housing.

That's a great opportunity.