An Immodest Proposal: Creating an Expansive, Metadata-Rich, Highly Searchable, Collaboratively Built Origami Database

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CharlesWallace
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An Immodest Proposal: Creating an Expansive, Metadata-Rich, Highly Searchable, Collaboratively Built Origami Database

Post by CharlesWallace »

Preface: I posed the following question/proposal on the Origami Forum site almost three years ago (July 2018). The content of the post was different, was less detailed, and didn’t provide a link to a “mind map” that fleshed this out a little more. If you search the database for the keywords “origami database,” look for content referencing the topic “Every model starts with a crease or a fold…” I received a few responses back then: a few were informative and helpful; others somewhat off on a tangent, but still appreciated. It’s not necessary to retrieve those conversations to understand what follows, but it can’t hurt. Your choice, of course.

For quite some time I've had a project in mind (likely not an original one) that brought together my background as a Librarian and decades-long love of Origami. In a nutshell: The creation of an online, collaboratively built and maintained, Origami database that featured images of contributors' original models and/or diagrams. The database would be populated with extensive and voluntarily provided metadata from each contributor as a means of making the overall database searchable at a high level of both free-text and control vocabulary granularity in order to provide access to photographic, illustrative, linked, and textual content I haven't seen in other databases of this type.

Imagine the cultural, social, academic, artistic, historical, instructional, and just plain inspirational benefits of such an online resource!

Oh yes....as well as how ridiculously challenging it would be--on more organizational and technical levels than I care to mention here--to cobble together something like this, maintain it, and help it evolve to be a continually useful and communally supportive site.

Still, I think there is a need for a more inclusive, aggregated tool. Something that is more than a replication of what currently exists, and constitutes a next step in a centralized multi-format, indexed, powerfully searchable, and stable archive of what can be safely assumed to be a wealth of undocumented (in many cases) and unsolicited creations.

Anyone immersed in Origami to a significant degree recognizes the development of new models, techniques, use of materials, and how we find our Muse (by origamists at all levels of skill) is anything but static or predictable. To be able to cobble together and to some degree, codify, a communal tool that more easily and efficiently shares what has and continues to spring from a craft-form that simultaneously cherishes traditional practices while constantly pushing it own boundaries...well, I find this both terribly exciting and daunting.

Understandably important issues such as (but not limited to) costs, privacy, copyright, database sustainability, and the development of as comprehensive as reasonably possible indexing schema would take a lot of time to hash out. You don't need to be a Librarian to recognize the hurdles, and would require a core group volunteers with different areas of expertise to take them on. However, it would start small—no one starts building something at step nineteen. Besides, overly fixating on the challenges robs time from exploring the reasons and ways to work through them.

Trying to put all the pieces of such a project together in my head was/is an exercise in possibilities and increased sharing of ideas, but on my own it's hard to take it much further than that. Therefore, I decided to do two things in the way of testing the waters--that is, seeing if anyone else has thought similarly about the next step in an Origami database, even if just at the occasional daydream stage. Thing 1: Start with an effort to build this (friendly) Frankenstein's monster so that it only solicited submissions from a small part of the U.S.--perhaps just a single state or region. Then, through a team effort, learn from the mistakes/successes and gradually scale up from there. Thing 2: See if I could put together a "mind map" to illustrate what data points it would be desirable to collect (if available and applicable to someone's submission) as well as a rough out an idea of how the processing/workflow necessary to make it work...well, might work. The result of my first and rudimentary iteration of the mind map appears on my Origami website:
https://paulshoffman.wixsite.com/origamihakken

Once there, click on the “Beyond the Fold” menu option near the top of the home page. (Apologies for how small and hard it may be to read: I was working within the confines of my monitor, application, graphic elements, etc. When you look it over, please remember this is not a blueprint or anything approaching a polished flowchart. (Clearly.) Only an effort--supported by no small degree of caffeine, stubbornness, and fear that a sudden idea might be lost--to get something on paper. That said, it serves its purpose if only to jump-start some conversations with others for whom this kind of long-term project resonates in some way. If it does, you want to know more, or (conversely) wish to civilly share your thoughts on why such a project is as doomed to failure at the outset—as was the attempt to invent a flying machine--feel free to reach out via the following email address (which is also on my website): origamihakken@gmail.com

Thank you for taking the time to read this, and happy folding to all!
Paul H.
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Re: An Immodest Proposal: Creating an Expansive, Metadata-Rich, Highly Searchable, Collaboratively Built Origami Databas

Post by Baltorigamist »

Perhaps I'm not understanding your proposal correctly, but what would be the benefit of this as opposed to Gilad's database?
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Gerardo
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Re: An Immodest Proposal: Creating an Expansive, Metadata-Rich, Highly Searchable, Collaboratively Built Origami Databas

Post by Gerardo »

I do wish there was a database with many more pictures of folds than Gilad's Origami Database and the Origami Database. It lacks a lot of pictures!

By the way, Paul, the external link at the bottom of your message doesn't work. It's looking for a webpage inside this forum.

One other thing, you should know this forum is pretty inactive nowadays. I'd suggest for you to distribute your message through The Origami Mailing list and the Discord server Origami-dan as well. But, such a long message will be skipped by many. For that reason, I also recommend that you synthesize it a lot first; especially for the Discord server. It's full of smart youngsters that won't read a message that's longer than a couple of lines.

Best of luck with your project!
.
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CharlesWallace
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A response to Baltorigamist

Post by CharlesWallace »

Baltorigamist:

Thank you for your response! Here's a short one in return...

In a nutshell, and in no specific order:
1) The database is meant as a repository for original models submitted by origamists at all levels of experience.
2) Only tangentially is it a link or review of publications personally or collectively owned.
3) It is meant to provide a highly granular free-text and controlled vocabulary to allow flexibility in search both common and esoteric content.
4) It solicits voluntary information from the folder regarding a host of details specific to the creation of the model.
5) It would accommodate (voluntarily provided) illustrative information like folding instruction, crease patterns, free-hand drawings, photographs.
6) It would feature an internal index scheme in which to organize, search, and group models. (More on this latter, if you like.)
7) It could create a dedicated team of folders to help design, implement, maintain, grow, and evolve the database.
8) If successful, further promotion of and a centralized, expansive site for folders at all levels on skill and inquiry wanting to find a place to submit models (as efficiently as possibly) and discover a community folders with which they can interact.
9) A larger number of file formats which could be integrated into the site.
10) Established workflow, processing, oversight, technical set-up, and detailed collaboration with a core committee of volunteers to ensure the site is what I would love it to be: Not one-stop shopping (and I am not referring to the sales) to a vast range of illustrative, textual, shared skills, model/technique taxonomy, and commentary...but something that reflects that to a greater degree of granularity, accessibility, and invitation to all folders that I think currently exists.
11) At the very least--which it wouldn't be--gauging how many other people were interested and/or had useful suggestions to offer for the creation of such an online resource (or at least felt similarly about the exciting possibilities for such a tool) would be useful to me in seeing how/if this idea propagates.

Disclaimer: This was off the top of my head, so to speak. I originally typed this early in the morning, needed some caffeine, and had work I needed to get to!

Happy folding,
Paul
CharlesWallace
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A Response to Gerardo

Post by CharlesWallace »

Gerardo:
Thank you for making me aware of the problem with the link to my email address!
So, for anyone reading this and wishing to contact me outside of this venue, the following email does work. [origamihakken@gmail.com] Just not within this site. The link to my Origami website [https://paulshoffman.wixsite.com/origamihakken] should work just fine from here.
Thank you also for the suggestions for other sites in which to post my original and (anything but brief) message.

Happy folding (and creasing),
Paul
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Re: A response to Baltorigamist

Post by Baltorigamist »

CharlesWallace wrote: December 1st, 2021, 12:12 am Baltorigamist:

Thank you for your response! Here's a short one in return...

In a nutshell, and in no specific order:
1) The database is meant as a repository for original models submitted by origamists at all levels of experience.
2) Only tangentially is it a link or review of publications personally or collectively owned.
3) It is meant to provide a highly granular free-text and controlled vocabulary to allow flexibility in search both common and esoteric content.
4) It solicits voluntary information from the folder regarding a host of details specific to the creation of the model.
5) It would accommodate (voluntarily provided) illustrative information like folding instruction, crease patterns, free-hand drawings, photographs.
6) It would feature an internal index scheme in which to organize, search, and group models. (More on this latter, if you like.)
7) It could create a dedicated team of folders to help design, implement, maintain, grow, and evolve the database.
8) If successful, further promotion of and a centralized, expansive site for folders at all levels on skill and inquiry wanting to find a place to submit models (as efficiently as possibly) and discover a community folders with which they can interact.
9) A larger number of file formats which could be integrated into the site.
10) Established workflow, processing, oversight, technical set-up, and detailed collaboration with a core committee of volunteers to ensure the site is what I would love it to be: Not one-stop shopping (and I am not referring to the sales) to a vast range of illustrative, textual, shared skills, model/technique taxonomy, and commentary...but something that reflects that to a greater degree of granularity, accessibility, and invitation to all folders that I think currently exists.
11) At the very least--which it wouldn't be--gauging how many other people were interested and/or had useful suggestions to offer for the creation of such an online resource (or at least felt similarly about the exciting possibilities for such a tool) would be useful to me in seeing how/if this idea propagates.

Disclaimer: This was off the top of my head, so to speak. I originally typed this early in the morning, needed some caffeine, and had work I needed to get to!

Happy folding,
Paul
I just remembered there's a Google Drive with a massive database of crease patterns grouped by designer. Is that what you're looking for?
Not too many people have editing permissions for it (only two, if memory serves), so I don't know how much recent work is included, but I'll see if I can find the link for the drive.
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