Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Being practical?

Over the weekend (Dec 13th to 16th 2007) I was in Kuala Lumpur attending a seminar called RAMLEA, organized by Malaysian Institute of Management, and sponsored by Konrad Adenauer Stiftung.

Anyway more importantly is that someone asked me about Buckminster Fuller, is there anything practical that can one can use after learning about him. I don't blame her, most of us are conditioned to ask such a question, What practical use can I get out of your "Bucky workshop"?

It's can be quite challenging.....to answer this question, in a sense. In part because are in their own paradigm.
So people seemed to feel that "Bucky" thinking and ideas are impractical, idealistic, but not useful.

This reminded me of a recent program I saw on TV, perhaps it was on Discovery Channel.
It was about the inventors and innovators like Alexander Graham Bell who invented the telephone. When it became possible to send messages through a wire, an entrepreneur of the day, worked to have cables laid out in the Atlantic Ocean to link London and New York. It was a bold and massive project. However there were limitations. The electrical pulses of messages could only travel one way, one at a time. Very limited in it's usage. Other innovations came along, the co-axial cables. However usage was apparently still limited.

Meanwhile there was a palour trick which was discovered in early Victorian England, where light can be shined through a flowing spout of water out from a water tap, with total internal reflection. It looked like a flowing glowing cable of water. Very nice, but seemed like of not much practical use. (Just like the thinking and ideas of Bucky Fuller to many many people besetted with their mindsets)

However subsequent technology came along with glass. And marrying the two ideas, fiber optics was invented.

Today it is fiber optics technology which carry the billions of electrical pulses of our Internet World.

What am I saying here?
Do not dismiss Idealistic thoughts and ideas......which may seem useless at the moment.....

When the pure scientist discovers something...... the so-called practical down-to-earth people may dismiss their work as impractical.
However what has happened actually, is that the discovery of pure science, has put on the shelf, their "canned discovery" ready for practical use by the applied scientist.

This is the use of "Bucky Workshop" thinking and ideas. Seemingly impractical blue-sky stuff, but that's how very useful practical artifacts are invented.

And the world have to really thank the Blue-sky scientists for the quality of life it enjoys today.

Bucky use to say something like this, (not his exact words)....Go fishing.....do your own clear thinking, and one out of one hundred thousand persons, will come up with an invention that will benefit the rest.

"Be IMPRACTICAl, it's the most practical thing to do today" so says Joo Hock. Ha ha

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