OSCON 2005: Know When to Fold 'Em
Subject:   origami and open source software are also "arscient"
Date:   2005-08-09 05:58:02
From:   ericleasemorgan

I assert that origami and open source software have another thing in common. They are both "arscient."

I have been folding origami for about twenty years, and I have come to accept the fact that I am not an artist in this regard, but rather a craftsman. I can read the books and fold the objects, but I am unable to create new models.

While learning about origami through an aesthetics class in college, I decided to coin a term -- arscience. Literally a concatenation of the words "art and science", I use arscience to denote a sort of thinking that is simultaneously creative and systematic.

Origami and open source software development require both creative and systematic thinking. Both origami and open source software are accomplished with sets of symbols, tools, methods, and parts. These are things like functions, libraries, folds, bends, diagrams, etc. These are the "things" of origami and open source. Next, the folder/developer wants to solve a problem or represent a shape, and with the things of their trade they try to manifest solutions. They need to combine the things in new and different ways. This is the creative aspect of the process. At the same time, the folder/developer needs to think logically and in a step-by-step fashion. Patterns. Similarities. Rhyme and reason play a large part in this aspect of the process. (For a good time, search Google for the word arscient, and you should get one this that crosses into's archived mailing list.)

Thinking both creatively and systematically at the same time has helped me immensely in my career. I apply the process to librarianship as well as open source software development.

It was nice to read about origami in regards to the open source software developer's conference. Thank you.