Buckminster Fuller and Brilliance Extraction

Is There A Practical Version of Buckminister Fuller’s Dymaxion Chronofile?

While I’m on my journey of writing a Brilliance Nugget every single day for a whole year, I need to tell you about Buckminster Fuller’s Dymaxion Chronofile. He was an inspiring person on so many levels.

R. Buckminster Fuller (1895 – 1983) was an American architect, systems theorist, author, designer, inventor, and futurist. He called himself a “comprehensive anticipatory design scientist.” He is well-known for the geodesic dome and Buckeyballs (e.g, 60 carbon atoms arranged in the shape of a soccer ball). Yet, his designs span many inventions from energy-efficient houses to futuristic cars.

In 1920, Buckminster Fuller decided to document his life every 15 minutes! He did that until his death in 1983. His “scrapbook” called the Dymaxion Chronofile spans 63 years of his life! It contains all his correspondence, bills, notes, sketches, and newspapers clippings. Wow!

The word “Dymaxion” is a contraction of the words dynamic, maximum, and tension. These are words that are integral to Buckminster Fuller’s work and designs.

At the age of 25, Buckminster Fuller realized that keeping track of a human being’s life over many years would be valuable to those who came after him.

If somebody kept a very accurate record of a human being, going through the era from the Gay ’90s, from a very different kind of world through the turn of the century—as far into the twentieth century as you might live. I decided to make myself a good case history of such a human being and it meant that I could not be judge of what was valid to put in or not. I must put everything in, so I started a very rigorous record.

— Buckminster Fuller, Oregon Lecture #9, p.324, 12 July 1962[3]

The Dymaxion chromofile contains over 140,000 pieces of paper, 64,000 feet of film, 1,500 hours of audiotape, and 300 hours of video recordings. The Chronofile is cross-referenced alphabetically using 13,500 5×8 inch index cards (Wikipedia)

What an amazing and massive undertaking! Such a task, while inspiring, is too massive for most. Besides, the use of such an archive is not so simple.

These days, we can replace alphabetic index cards with modern approaches to storing large amounts of data. We have advanced ways to retrieve the things we find interesting. In another Brilliance Nugget, I have shared with you about the App called “Notion” and the Second Brain / PARA method by Tiago Forte. It would be very interesting to pour the Dymaxion Chronofile into that kind of system. Maybe Stanford University has already done that? Around the turn of the Millenium, they acquired this archive.

There Is A Practical Approach All Of US Can Use

For most people, the idea of keeping track of their life to the extent Buckminster Fuller did is intimidating at best. But we can keep track of our own “Brilliance Nuggets” as they occur to us. I use Notion for that.

What about the things we already have learned? The knowledge and wisdom we already have acquired and not documented? I have termed them as “Brilliance”. I invite you to capture that brilliance and make it transferrable and immortal. That is our focus at The Brilliance Mine: Identifying, capturing brilliance so you can transfer it.

Our work is a bit like the Dymaxion Chronofile. But it is far more selective – and far less work.

  • We choose what to preserve for the future.
  • We think about the purpose of passing on the selected brilliance.
  • We think about the anticipated type of recipient of that captured brilliance.
  • And we make it teachable with that type of recipient in mind.
  • That process creates a massive return on investment (ROI). You can definitely count your ROI in monetary terms. I never even suggest tackling Brilliance Extraction project unless we can see at least a monetary ROI of at least 10 (unless you want to do it purely for legacy reasons). Most times. the ROI is far greater than that.

Also, the ROI goes beyond money. We pass on our knowledge and wisdom to leave the trail better than we found it. I think that matters, too!

I’m Curious

  • What brilliance could you capture and transfer?
  • Why would that be valuable to do?
  • What impact could it have on your business or organization (and even your family)?

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