on building new models that make existing models obsolete

below is one of my favorite buckminster fuller quotes:

“To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”

the other day, i was explaining it to a friend (can’t remember who anymore). that friend basically said that that quote is unrealistic for non-technological systems. i think my friend’s argument was that (a) fuller was a techno-positivist, and (b) this quote only really applies to technological change because human systems are too messy for change to happen so simply.

i understand that technology systems are less constrained by human complexity. and still i think the quote is applicable.

it seems i’m not alone. below is an excerpt from an interview with max ventilla (co-?)founder of AltSchool.

Max Ventilla: AltSchool’s mission is to enable all children to achieve their full potential.

Interviewer: Isn’t that the mission of the public school system?

Max: I’d say the mission of a public school system is to allow those children to achieve their full potential.

Interviewer: What’s the difference?

Max: You need to create a network. You need to have a network effect where people are flocking to a new ecosystem that’s getting better and better, not because they’re altruistic, but because it’s the best.

of course, it’s much too soon to know if altschool will actually work. regardless, that last line i think could prove itself outside of technology fields as well. i know there is historical data that disproves this (example: gun control), but i still believe it’s possible. given the right information and the right motivation, i genuinely believe that people will flee failing systems for ones that function differently and just really are better.

one can dream, eh?