Monday, April 21, 2008

How Has the Internet Affected and Influenced the Origami Community?

I've been asked to write an article for OUSA's The Paper, regarding how the advent of the internet has affected the origami community. What I would like, is to use this post as a sort of "open interview", and allow my visitors and readers to share their experiences and thoughts on how the "information highway" has affected their origami experience, both the positives (such as easier sharing and communicating) and the negatives (such as copyright infringements).

Even within just the last 3 years, I've witnessed the YouTube explosion and growth of blogs and websites and online photo albums.

This comment by SlyNeko is an example of what I'm looking for:
I apologize for getting all touchy-feely here but i just had to point out that this is a great example of the uniqueness of the origami community.....Gadi creates and shares with us all a wonderful and innovative design and takes the time to document the CP....then Nathan lends a helping hand and takes it to the next level for those (like me) that can benefit from extra instruction...and all this in about a day's turnaround.....i think it's encouraging that amidst all the stealing and cheating that goes on, that there are good things that come out of the immediacy of origami on the net....anyway, i'm off to fold this great model....thanks to Gadi, Nathan, and all the great users here which make reading and learning from the posts so much fun...
As well as the thread on origami piracy; and the semi-off-topic discussion going on here. These are topics and issues that are relevant to my article. The existence of the Origami Forum, in itself, is responsible for influencing the lives of origamists around the world; in fostering and cultivating a sense of community and the cross-pollination of ideas and the sharing of our mutual love for the art of paperfolding. If not for the Origami List (Origami-L, O-List), I would not have ever "met" such wonderful people from halfway around the world, such as my longtime friend in Holland, Marrigje. If not for the internet, you would not be reading this blog; nor would I have been able to share my videos for about the last 4 years with the community at large. I think I was one of the first- if not the first- to take advantage of using blogs, as well as YouTube (my first account was suspended- but unfairly! It's a long story...).

Without the internet, I would never have stumbled across a photo of Stephen Delecat's dollar shirt with a tie, and decipher it before diagrams were made available. I would never be able to correspond with so many people, so quickly; to view with a click of the mouse, all the wonderful models they've been folding.

So, please share with me, your thoughts and experiences as how it relates to the evolution of origami, as it's been influenced by the internet. Just leave a comment. I'll try and credit where I can, should I cite you in the article. I suppose this article, in itself will come alive and be made possible by the magical wonders of the internet.

My deadline is May 21st.

Thanks for your time in advance!

*UPDATE* Wrote this to the O-List (I think I phrased some things more clearly and concisely):
I've only been on the internet for maybe the last 7 years. And in that time, I've seen an expansion of websites, the advent of blogs, the rise of YouTube and likeminded video-sharing sites, and an explosion of online photo albums as well as the sharing of ideas and information, thanks to e-mail and public message board forums. There have also been negative consequences, such as copyright infringements.

My question to List members, is:
1)"How has your life become enriched/impoverished/influenced by the technology of the internet, as it relates to origami?"

2)What changes have you witnessed within the origami community, since the internet?

3)Would origami be where it is today, if there wasn't an internet? What was the origami community like, pre-internet and e-mail service?

*UPDATE*04/28/08 Forgot to put this up:
The non-profit organization OrigamiUSA began in the 1970s and 1980s. Back then its primary mission was to communicate origami-related news to its members as well as offer them a way to buy origami books and paper. With the advent of the internet it has become much easier for origami enthusiasts to obtain such information, paper, and model instructions on their own.

Therefore, OrigamiUSA is very interested to know what origami enthusiasts would like from our organization, not only from our current members, but also from non-members.

Click here to go take the OUSA survey.


enwhysee said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Joseph White said...

Being somewhat remote in the origami world, I knew very little about the art, I had not even seen a book on it till middle school. The internet revolutionized my intrest in the art, first with, then Joseph Wu's site, and shortly after, the Origami Mailing List. Its been a great tool in connecting with others. I tend to listen more than speak however, I've long been a list lurker, and responsible for confusion between myself and Joseph Wu on the occasions that I do speak. Other non-origami related sites such as E-bay and second hand book sites have helped as well, allowing me to gather books on Yoshizawa, the 1960's translation of the Kayaragusa section, and other such wonderful things that I would otherwise never find out here in Kentucky. Even more recently, its helped me find out information on a historical folder of Kentucky, Raymond K. McLain.

I'm not familiar to what the origami community was like before the internet as I wasn't a part of it, but I find it amazing how they kept up all their connections through the post and personal meetings. The conventions are the only thing I would consider better than the internet.

Sadly, there are also the negative impacts. There is a sharing of origami going on behind the scenes, where some people post entire scanned books where just about anyone can find them. Acts such as that have fostered some new folders, but many are rather rude and disrespectful to the authors and community. The internet can make people feel invincible, and say or do things they would not normally, I believe that is the case here. There is also the so called e-books of origami diagrams that pop up on auction sites, usually folds collected for free off the internet and sold at a price. There has been an active force in more recent years on quelling such piracy, which has been quite effective, but not stomped it out.

Anonymous said...

1. Because of the Web, I have been able to locate out of print books, much much more easily than previously. This allowed me to improve my skills more quickly.

2. The age of very talented folks has been decreasing significantly and the speed of sharing has increased as well.

3. Without the Web, I believe that many current techniques would not be as advanced, that CPs would be less popular, that photos wouldn't be as shared, and that the techniques that Lang describes in ODS would not have taken off... we might still be in the Box pleating stage.

- Hank Simon

The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts, joseph and Hank.

I "knew" you before I finally met you in NY Joe, thanks to the O-List.

Anonymous said...

Much like Joseph, I have always lived in locations that do not have a local origami community.

Every once in a while I have found a fellow folder, but they have always been less dedicated than I am. Not that it's a bad thing for people to be causal folders, but it means that I have never really had anyone to learn from locally, and I have not had an opportunity to attend any conventions, so I am on my own.

I have been folding paper for 25 years. In that time I have collected many books and quickly had a much larger origami book collection than any library I had access to. My origami education was limited to what books and could find and decipher.

An example of this would be hearing about "unit origami" and being very interested, but not having any books available on the subject until I finally stumbled across a book with a basic Sonobe unit.

The introduction of the internet radically changed things. Information became much easier to find and I found online diagrams (in postscript format at the time). I spent many hours printing off all the diagrams I could find and creating a binder to add to my book collection, although I eventually gave up on that task.

In addition to diagrams and information came pictures. Sometimes knowing that something exists is the most important step. If I know a model exists, I am much more likely to track down the book or diagram or author, etc.

More recently trends like origami tessellations have been strongly influenced and nurtured by the easy of sharing that is created by the internet. My guess is that there would be a small handful of tessellation models in existence today if books were still the biggest source of information about them.

Sites like flickr have allowed several tessellation creators to play off of each others ideas in a very short span of time and produce more and more elaborate creations. This process would likely have taken years if not decades before this level of communication of ideas.

And that doesn't even touch on the global marketplace that the internet has created, making it easier to find in and out of print books and magazines.

Yes, there are some pitfalls related to intellectual property rights, but I believe that the benefits far outweigh the consequences.

In fact, I have some concerns that designers who don't come to terms with the communication options available now are likely to see their work wither and die on the vine.

Pervasive communication is probably the most important development for origami art in the community since standard diagramming was developed.

The WordSmith from Nantucket said...


Thanks for contributing such a well-thought out reply.

Here's another perfect example of what's been made possible, thanks to the internet.

Don't know where the writer of the post, asking for help, is from; but Anna who responded and helped him with the video is from Austria.

The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

Interesting link for my own reference.