Containers, wrapping, and other materials designed to show off a given product to its best advantage and minimize wastage in transit. Some smart package materials have the ability to change from a drab, sturdy shipping form to a shiny, brightly-colored display form (often via an induced current loop, which the products are run through prior to being stocked on store shelves), others are reactive to external stimuli (the infamous 'puking cookie' being a case in point - a packaging solution which was designed to pass out single cookies to children, which suffered from design sabotage leading to a very unpleasant sound effect while disgorging each cookie), and yet others are grip-enabled (they hold on for you, once purchased and triggered).
The number and types of packaging grew incredibly in the pre- nanoswarm period, only to suffer a significant reverse in the Diaspora times during and following the nanoswarms and the GAIA expulsion due to reduced manufacturing capability. With the advent of nanofactories, packaging came back into vogue and continues to be used in many situations even in the present day.
One of the more popular for-profit museums in the NoCoZo is the Packaging Hall of Fame (Maynard Megastructure, Hipparkos, NoCoZo Inner Sphere), which gains its income not only from admissions but also from providing data to academic or marketing firms researching packaging solutions for specific problems.
(Note: It is rumored that it is somewhat of a guilty pleasure for certain Negentropic tourists to visit such an inherently wasteful display as the museum...)
Text by John B
Initially published on 16 September 2004.