In a email on the Digital Divide Network mailing list Dave Pentecost brought up the concept of the TRIMTAB. Here’s the definition he presented:
“trimtab” – a small unit that exerts great influence on the course of a large vessel.
So what’s a trimtab?
A trim tab is a tiny flap that controls the rudder on a ship or airplane. When the rudder needs to be moved, this tiny trimtab is adjusted which creates a low pressure area on one side and turns the rudder. Buckminster Fuller used the word to illustrate what an individual can do to turn the great ship of human society. Bucky’s gravestone says simply, “Call me Trimtab.”
The concept of a very small actor on a huge stage with LOTS of other actors having a significant effect on all of the other bodies is very important to grassroots efforts. This is especially true in a world were many of us feel increasingly without power to make a difference or bring about POSITIVE change.
We know now, more than ever, the roll the Internet can play in allowing the trimtab to exist and be empowered in global society. Now we all need to learn how to play the tiny flap, called the trimtab, with great finesse. Much of this seems to be about HOW WE WORK TOGETHER.
How can we “[C]reate a low pressure area on one side and turn the rudder”? If we look at this directive as a allegory for other things what is the rudder? What is the body of water that the rudder flows through?
Could the “rudder” represent politics and the water it flows in is our planet? Fuller believed he was the trimtab that moved the “ship of human society”.
What if the rudder is human communication (like media) and the water the rudder flows though are connections we all have between each of us. By making new media to communicate we strengthen and alter the connections we have between us and alter the direction of the “ship of human society”.