It has been said that Buckminster Fuller was a charlatan. “Some people say that [he] is an authentic 18-carat genius. Others just laugh and laugh. …it is easy to imagine how that might have come across to somewhat less imaginative audiences: as a bluff or, worse, as a scam.” After reading his biography, Your Private Sky edited by Joachim Krausse and Claude Lichtenstein, I would agree! As a quick aside, the book is brilliant, in content, presentation, and perspective. I can’t recommend it enough. Following the career of Fuller is exhilarating, beginning with the Dymaxion House, through the Dymaxion car and Dymaxion Map, and concluding with geodesic domes (and most everything in between). While he has a million and one fascinating ideas about how the world should work and the relationship of man and technology, I’m certain that if I had been working with him at the time, I never would have been able to keep up with him. As a visionary, or an “anticipatory design scientist”, he isn’t exactly an engineer, he isn’t exactly a designer, he isn’t exactly a philosopher, but all of those things and more. He chooses to explain his ideas in a highly obtuse prose, reminiscent of German philosophers and mathematicians. In his Tetrascroll, an adaptation of the children’s tale Goldilocks and the Three Bears, he attempts to explain the evolution of human technology and culture over the millennia, coming towards his conclusion with sentences like, “Goldy and the bears agree that the Austronesian water people constitute the prime ongoing organism of human evolution designed and conditioned by…”. Firstly that sentence barely makes any sense, even in context, and secondly, I’d like some of what he’s smoking please! But the majority of his career seems to have followed this template, namely he espouses ideas so outrageous they just might work! And when one finally does, bang, he’s a genius. And then in the 1960s after his geodesic domes gained popularity (which were by all accounts a true innovation of his, or at least an honest rediscovery), scientists find such structures in many new and familiar places, such as cell cytoskeletons or large molecules of carbon, most famously C60. Fuller gets a lot of credit; talk about being in the right place at the right time.
I conclude with a great deal of respect for Fuller. A visionary who’s ideas found their time and place, and who was able to witness the impact in his own lifetime. His inability to clearly and simply describe his ideas, relying instead on abstract pseudo-philosophy (which perfectly fit the zeitgeist exemplified by hippy counterculture or the Whole Earth Catalog) are deeply irritating to me. I prefer ideas which can be very simply explained, and have fundamental repercussions, without a lot of handwaving.
Story time! I had a conversation with Joe White recently. Hanging out at Allpress. We were filming an interview about RjDj’s upcoming app. While testing out the video we got off on a tangent. But I find it so funny that it must be worth posting, right?
Finally, I feel that it’s worth mentioning that it was in fact Charlie at the Parry Game Preserve who first forced Incubus on me. Possibly back in 2002.
This weekend RjDj had a stand at Silicon Milkroundabout and presented our company, our vision, and perhaps most importantly, ourselves as individuals. I enjoyed the event very much, it was well organised and well attended. The majority of the attendees were students, new grads, or young professionals with only a few years experience. It would have been nice to see some more people with more experience, but the event was marketed to the former so I’m not complaining. The RjDj stand was busy for the whole day and by the end I was hoarse and just tired.
What struck me as a representative of a company and also someone with the power to hire was the informality of the event and also the total lack of CVs. Back when I was in high school or even university, any recruiting event meant hours of slaving over the perfect CV and also some manner of formal dress, all the way up to suit and tie. We were on our best behaviour. Fortunately it seems that these things have been done away with. Attendees came to our booth and we spoke with them directly, told them about our company, asked questions, found out about their qualifications, and answered any of their questions. At the end of every conversation I gave them my card and simply said, “If you’re interested, send me your info and we’ll talk some more”. I did walk away with a few CVs, but very honestly, I won’t look at them. If the candidate is interested at all, they will follow up with the same information in digital format, which is the only useful format. The conversation will continue from there.
Perhaps one person came to us in what I could call formal dress. He was a new grad and looking for a management position. kthxbye. No person at RjDj ever wears a suit. And no person at RjDj wants to sit next to a person with a suit (in our internal day-to-day). No person at any other company in the Silicon Roundabout wears a suit. If you’re wearing a suit anywhere around here, well, I can smell a VC a mile away ;)
I remember, my own RjDj interview took place in a diner. As all interviews should :-P