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Long live paper

October 14, 2010

Ever since my then housemate, who worked on pop-up children’s books, told me she was having a meeting with a ‘paper engineer’, I’ve wanted that job title. How cool? Making things. Amazingly complex things. Out of something so plain, ubiquitous and cheap. Unfortunately, the closest I ever came to doing that for a living was creating this make your own HMS Beagle video, using two ‘Darwins’ (aka ten pound notes), as a fundraising effort:

Neat, but not as neat as some of the stuff that went on at Paper Camp 2 last week.

PaperCamp is a day-long get-together for folk to “talk about, fiddle with, make and explore what’s possible with paper”. It launched last year as a fringe event to BookCamp, the Penguin-sponsored user-generated conference  on the future of the book as an object and its ongoing role in delivering stories, information and entertainment. If like me you didn’t go to BookCamp or the first PaperCamp, you can find lots of interesting stuff about what went on within their respective wiki pages (BookCamp; PaperCamp). As for PaperCamp 2, Matt Brown from BERG London has posted some lovely thoughts and pictures, as well as this amazing video of self-folding origami:

Kind of the effect I was trying to simulate in my Beagle video. But a trillion times more incredible – because it happens by itself. And a reminder that technology doesn’t necessarily mean the end of paper…

So I really hope there’s a PaperCamp 3 because then I might finally get to be a paper engineer for a day. But in the meantime, if you want to try your hand at paper-fiddling, there’s a great set of briefs on James Bridle’s booktwo blog.

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