Thanks to the generosity of people at the Library of Congress such as Trevor Owens, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to interview media archaeologist Wolfgang Ernst on the LOC’s blog The Signal. I especially wanted to talk with Ernst not only about his Media Archaeological Fundus (MAF), which bears a strong affiliation to my Media Archaeology Lab (MAL), but also about whether he sees a connection between his archival approach, the MAF, and preservation. Ernst responded by explaining that the emphasis in the MAF is more on training and “enforcing” media research through excavation and even a mathematical mode of thinking than on preservation. In terms of the latter, then, it’s no surprise that Jussi Parikka points out on his blog that “Ernst is very reluctant to call this ‘Digital Humanities’: it’s media studies!” While DH is certainly deeply invested in doing and making as thinking, as (and as a response to) theory, I think that Ernst is still coming out of a Kittlerian project to “drive the spirit out of the humanities” and in this sense, no matter how inclusive DH becomes, perhaps media archaeology will steadfastly remain media studies, not DH.
You can find the entirety of the interview with Ernst here. As always, comments welcome.
With heartfelt thanks to my research assistant Caitlin Purdy and to Kyle Bickoff, a graduate student here at CU Boulder, the Media Archaeology Lab now has a nearly complete catalog of all its holdings. The catalog is clearly still a work-in-progress and, other than the just the organizational challenges in the document itself, the next step for the MAL is a web-based, searchable catalog. Still, hopefully the list below at least gives researchers a sense of what they can find in the lab. We also haven’t quite worked out a system for documenting material from particular donors and integrating this information into the main body of the catalog – at the moment, items from our most recent donors (Timothy Sweeney and Robert Craig) are listed separately toward the end of the catalog.
DOWNLOAD A PDF OF THE MAL CATALOG HERE.
8-Bit Digital Sound Studio: User’s Guide. N.p.: Great Valley Products, Inc., 1992. Print.
Abernethy, Ken, T. Ray Nanney, and Hayden Porter. Exploring Macintosh: Concepts in Visually Oriented Computing. New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1989. Print.
ALLC Bulletin 13.3 (1985). Print.
ALLC Bulletin 9.2 (1981). Print.
ALLC Bulletin 9.1 (1981). Print.
ALLC Bulletin 6.2 (1978). Print.
ALLC Bulletin 6.3 (1978). Print.
ALLC Bulletin 4.2 (1976). Print.
ALLC Bulletin 4.3 (1976). Print.
ALLC Bulletin 8.1 (1980). Print.
ALLC Bulletin 8.3 (1981). Print.
ALLC Bulletin 7.1 (1979). Print.
ALLC Bulletin 7.2 (1979). Print.
ALLC Journal 1.1 (1980). Print.
ALLC Journal 2.1 (1981). Print.
Apple II: DOS User’s Manual. Cupertino: Apple Computers, Inc., 1982. Print.
Apple II: Quick File II. Cupertino: Apple Computer, Inc., 1982. Print.
Apple II Reference Manual. Cupertino: Apple Computer Inc, 1981. Print.
Apple II Utilities Guide. Cupertino: Apple Computer, Inc., 1981. Print.
Applesoft BASIC Programmer’s Reference Manual. Cupertino: Apple Computer, Inc., 1982. Print.
Berkowitz, Rob. Inside the Macintosh Communications Toolbox. Ed. Scott Smith and Becky Reece. Cupertino: Apple Computer, Inc., 1991. Print.
De Jong, Marvin L. Apple II Assembly Language. Indianapolis: Howard W. Sams & Co, Inc, 1982. Print.
The Einstein MemoryTrainer User Guide. Los Angeles: The Einstein Corporation, 1983. Print.
Englebardt, Stanley L. The Worlds of Science: Cybernetics. New York: Pyramid, 1962. Print.
Finkel, LeRoy, and Jerald R. Brown. Apple Basic: Data File Programming. N.p.: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1982. Print. Self Teaching Guide.
Frenzel, Louis E., Jr. Crash Course in Microcomputers. Indianapolis: Howard W. Sams & Co Inc, 1980. Print.
Gateley, Wilson Y., and Gary G. Bitter. Basic for Beginners. N.p.: McGraw Book Company, 1970. Print.
Grammer, Virginia Carter, and E. Paul. Goldenberg. The Terrapin Logo Language for the AppleII. Ed. Mark Eckenwiler and Peter Von Mertens. Cambridge: Terrapin, Inc., 1982. Print.
Inside Macintosh. Vol. VI. Cupertino: Apple Computer, Inc., 1991. Print.
Inside Macintosh. Vol. V. Cupertino: Apple Computer, Inc., 1986. Print.
Inside Macintosh. Vol. IV. Cupertino: Apple Computer, Inc., 1985. Print.
Inside Macintosh. Vol. III. Cupertino: Apple Computer, Inc., 1985. Print.
Inside Macintosh. Vol. II. Cupertino: Apple Computer, Inc., 1985. Print.
Inside Macintosh. Vol. I. Cupertino: Apple Computer, Inc., 1985. Print.
Introduction, Complier, Editor. Cary: SAS Institute Inc., 1993. Print. Vol. 1 of SAS/C Development System User’s Guide.
Jenngs, Edward M. Science and Literature. Garden City: Anchor, 1970. Print.
Literary & Linguistic Computing 4.2 (1989). Print.
Literary & Linguistic Computing 5.1 (1990). Print.
Literary & Linguistic Computing 2.3 (1987). Print.
Literary & Linguistic Computing 3.3 (1988). Print.
Literary & Linguistic Computing 3.2 (1988). Print.
Literary & Linguistic Computing 4.4 (1989). Print.
Literary & Linguistic Computing 4.1 (1989). Print.
Luebbert, William F. What’s Where in the Apple: A Complete Guide to the Apple Computer. Amherst: Micro Ink, 1982. Print.
Luedtke, Peter, and Rainer Luedtke. Your First Business Computer. Bedford: Digital Equipment Corporation, 1983. Print. The Desktop Computer Series.
Macintosh Manual. Cupertino: Apple Computer, Inc., 1984. Print.
Micromodem Smartcom I: Owner’s Manual. Norcross: Hayes Microcomputer Products, 1983. Print.
Parikka, Jussi. What Is Media Archaeology? Cambridge: Polity, 2012. Print.
PC World 1.2 (1983). Print.
PC World 1.1 (1983). Print.
PC World 1.4 (1983). Print.
PC World 1.3 (1983). Print.
Perspectives in Computing 2.1 (1982). Print.
Perspectives in Computing 1.4 (1981). Print.
Perspectives in Computing 1.2 (1981). Print.
Perspectives in Computing 1.1 (1981). Print.
Ratliff, Wayne. dBASE II: Assembly Language Relational Database Management System. Culver City: Ratliff Software Production, Inc., 1982. Print.
Schneider, Ben Ross, Jr. Travels in Computerland. N.p.: Addison-Wesley, 1974. Print.
Smith, George W. Computers and Human Language. London: Oxford University, 1991. Print.
Smith, Jon M. Scientific Analysis on the Pocket Calculator. N.p.: John Wiley & Sons, 1975. Print.
Snell, Barbara M. Translating and the Computer. N.p.: North-Holland, 1979. Print.
Sobel, Robert. IBM: Colossus in Transition. London: Sidgwick & Jackson, 1981. Print.
Texas Instruments TI-99/4A Computer: Beginner’s BASIC. N.p.: Texas Instruments, 1979. Print.
Texas Instruments TI-99/4A Computer: User’s Reference Guide. Texas Instruments Incorporated ed. N.p.: Texas Instruments, 1979. Print.
Texas Instruments TI-99/4 Home Computer: TI Extended BASIC. Dallas: Texas Instruments, 1981. Print.
Tindall, Peggy Cagle, and Michel Boillot. Transparency Masters to Accompany Developing Computer Skills Using Appleworks. St. Paul: West Publishing Company, 1991. Print.
Tucker, Allen B., Jr. Text Processing: Algorithms, Languages, and Applications. New York: Academic, 1979. Print.
Turkle, Sherry. The Second Self: Computers and the Human Spirit. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1984. Print.
Volume III. Cupertino: Apple Computer, Inc., 1985. Print.
Wesson, Robert B. Perfect Calc User’s Guide. Berkeley: Perfect Software, Inc., 1982. Print.
Worley, Steven P. Essence: A Library of Algorithmic Textures for Imagine. N.p.: Apex Software, 1992. Print.
Zielinski, Siegfried. Deep Time of the Media. Cambridge: MIT, 2006. Print.
- – -, ed. Neapolitan Affairs: On Deep Time Relations of Arts, Sciences and Technologies. London: Quay Brothers, 2011. Print. Vol. 49 of Variantology 5.
- – -. On Deep Time Relations of Arts, Sciences, and Technologies. Oberhausen: Printmanagement Plitt, 206. Print. Vol. 35 of Variantology.
- – -, ed. On Deep Time Relations of Arts, Sciences and Technologies In the Arabic-Islamic World and Beyond. Oberhausen: Printmanagement Plitt, 2010. Print. Vol. 45 of Variantology 4.
- – -, ed. On Deep Time Relations of Arts, Sciences, Technologies In China and Elsewhere. Oberhausen: Printmanagement Plitt, 2008. Print. Vol. 37 of Variantology 3.
The Adams Family. Ocean Software Limited, 1992. Cassette. Commodore 64 Game
Agent USA. Jefferson City: Tom Snyder Productions, Inc. Inc., 1984. Cassette.
American Football. Argus Press Software Group, 1984. Cassette. Commodore 64 Game.
Applications Software. Dallas: Texas Instruments Inc., 1981. Cassette. System Unknown.
AwardWare. Plantation: Hi Tech Expressions, 1986. Floppy disc. System Unknown.
Beagle Bros Apple II Software. St. Clair Shores: Beagle Bros, 1992. Floppy disc. for Apple II Software
The Blues Brothers. Titus Software, 1991. Cassette. Commodore 64 Game
Castle Master. The Hit Squad, 1990. CD-ROM. Amiga Game
Certificate Maker. Springboard Stoftware, Inc., 1986. Floppy disc. For Apple II+, Apple IIe, Apple IIc.
Cluedo. Leisure Genius, 1984. Cassette. Commodore 64 Game.
Command Module. Dallas: Texas Instruments, 1979. Floppy disc.
Dollars and Sense. Inglewood: Monogram, 1983. Floppy disc. For Apple IIc
Electric Canyon This Land Is Your Land. Geneva: Polarware. Floppy Disk.. For Apple IIc
Electric Crayon ABCs. Geneva: Polarware, Inc. Floppy disc. For Apple IIc
EPYX Action. EPYX Inc., 1989. Cassette. Commodore 64 Game
Fleet System 2+. Needham: Professional Software, Inc., 1987. Floppy disc. For Commodore 64.
Interdictor Pilot. Supersoft, 1984. Cassette. System Unknown.
King’s Quest II: Romancing the Throne. Sierra, 1987. Floppy Disk. For Amiga.
King’s Quest III: To Heir is Human. Sierra, 1987. Floppy Disk. For Amiga.
Macintosh XL MacWorks XL. Cupertino: Apple Computer, Inc., 1984. Floppy disc. For Macintosh.
Maps and Globes: Latitude and Longitude. Mahwah: Troll Associates. Floppy disc. System Unknown.
Max Headroom. Quickstiva. Cassette. Commodore 64 Game (only 1 of 2 disks present)
Megaworks. San Diego: Megahaus. Floppy disc. For Apple IIc and Apple IIe.
Mitchell, Philip. Sherlock. Melbourne House Publishers, 1984. CD-ROM. Commodore 64 Game
My Label Maker. Menlo Park: MySoftwareCo. Floppy disc. System Unknown.
The News Room. Minneapolis: Springboard Software, Inc., 1986. CD-ROM. For Apple II+, Apple IIe, Apple Iic
Police Quest 1. Sierra. 1992. Floppy Disk. For Amiga.
Police Quest 2. Sierra. 1992. Floppy Disk. For Amiga.
Police Quest 3. Sierra. 1993. Floppy Disk. For Amiga.
Pinpoint. Oakland: Pinpoint, 1985. Floppy Disk. For Apple IIc, Apple IIe.
The Story so Far Compilation Pack: Volume 4. Elite, 1989. Cassette. Commodore 64 Games
Time Out Desk Tools II. San Diego: Beagle Bros, Inc., 1988. Floppy disc. For Apple II.
Back Room Inventory
Smith Corona grey typewriter
Smith Corona blue typewriter
Wollensak 3M tape recorder model 2820; labeled “CU ENGLISH DEPARTMENT” and CU 91218
Panasonic portable CD player model SL-SX320 w/ headphones attached
Sony Radio Cassette Player model WM-FX197
1 Nintendo Entertainment System; Model Number: NES-001; FCC ID: BMC9BENINTENDOETS; Serial Number: N11551290
2 Nintendo Controllers ; Model Number: NES-004
1 Nintendo Zapper; Model Number: NES-005
26 Nintendo Games:
1943: The Battle of Midway, 1985
Blades of Steel, 1985
Double Dragon, 1985
Double Dragon II: The Revenge, 1985
Dracula’s Curse, 1985
Dragon Warrior, 1985
Duck Tales, 1985
From Russia with Fun, 1985
Megaman 2, 1985
Mega Man 3, 1985
Skate or Die, 1985
Super Dodge Ball, 1985
Super Mario Bros: Duck Hunt. 1985
Super Mario Bros. 2, 1985
Super Mario Bros. 3, 1985
The Simpsons: Bart vs. the Space Mutants, 1985
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, 1985
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Arcade Game, 1985
Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, 1985
Front Room Inventory
1 Apple IIe Computer
1 AppleColor Composite Monitor; Model Number: A2M6020; Serial Number: S; FCC ID: BCG90QNA2M6020
1 Keyboard; Model Number: A2S2128; Serial Number: E02210ZAS2128; FCDD ID: BCG6DSA2S2128
1 Apple 5.25 Drive; Model Number: A9M0107; Serial Number: KGU9861
1 Mouse; Model Number: M0100; Serial Number: 0435A11E00185
1 KoalaPad+; FCC ID: CN475EPAD001
1 Macintosh Lisa
1 Monitor; Model Number: A6S0200; Serial Number: A4284080
1 Keyboard; Model Number: A6MB101; Serial Number: 1061595
1 Mouse; Model Number: M0100; Serial Number: G512M010001909
1 Box of Imation 2DD, 720KB
1 Apple IIc
1 Monitor; Model Number: G090H; Serial Number: T077678; FCC: BCG966MNTR2CG090H
1 Keyboard; Model Number: A2S4000; FCC ID: BCG9GRA2S4000; Serial Number: F609608A2S4000
1 Mouse; Serial Number: M528M010005151; Model Number: M0100
1 Disk IIc; Model Number: A2M4050; Serial Number: F301954; FCC ID: BC69Z6A2M4050
1 Macintosh Centris 610
1 Monitor (Macintosh 12” RGB Display); Family Number: M1296
1 Apple Desktop Bus Mouse; Family Number: G5431
1 Keyboard; Model Number: M2980; FCC ID: BCGM2980
1 Apple iMac G3
1 Apple USB Keyboard; Model Number: M2452; Serial Number: NK8470XUADL2
1 Apple USB Mouse; Model Number: M4848
1 iMac G4
1 Pro Keyboard; Model Number: M7803; Serial Number: M7803
1 Pair of speakers
1 Macintosh Portable; Model Number: M5120; FCC ID: BCGM5120
1 Macintosh PowerBook 165; Model Number: M4440; FCC ID: BCGM4440
1 Apple MacBook Air; Serial Number: W882609UY5G
1 Apple iBook G4; Model Number: A1054
1 Apple iBook G3; Family Number: M2453; Serial Number: UV949322H6Q
1 IBM Portable Personal Compuer (no ID numbers)
1 COMPAQ Portable III; Model Number: 2660; FCC ID: CNT75M2660; Serial Number: CNT75M2660
1 COMPAQ Portable; Model Number: 2670; FCC ID: CNT75M5401; Serial Number: 1848HN3H0355
1 NeXT Computer; Part Number: 23.00; Model Number: N1000; Serial Number: AAK0004152;
1 NeXT Keyboard; Part Number: 193; Serial Number: AAF 1532557
1 NeXT MegaPixel Display Monitor; Model Number: N400OA; Part Number: 1403; Serial Number: AAA 7026704
1 NeXT Mouse; Model Number: N400A; Part Number: 193; Serial Number: AAF 1532557
1 IBM 5151
1 IBM Keyboard (No ID Numbers)
1 IBM Personal Computer Display; Model Number: 5151; Serial Number: 0889756; FCC ID: AN08ZA5151
1 IBM Personal Computer; Model Number: 5151; Serial Number: 0889756; FCC ID: AN08ZA5151
1 Commodore Amiga 500
1 Commodore Keyboard; Model Number: A500; Serial Number: CA1112119; FCC ID: BR98YV-B52
1 Amiga Monitor; FCC ID: AG19XA-1080
1 SMITH ENG. Vectrex
1 Vectrex; Model Number: 3000; Serial Number: 142309A
1 Vectrex Arcade System (No ID Numbers)
1 VectrexLIGHTPEN (No ID Numbers)
1 Commodore 64
1 Commodore C2N Cassette; Serial Number: 2951548; FCC ID: BR99VMC2N-A
1 Gemstick (No ID Numbers)
1 Commodore 64 Keyboard; Model Number 64; Serial Number: P00961638;FCC ID: P00961638
1 Commodore Monitor; Model Number: 1084S-P; Serial Number: 181231
1 Commodore Single Drive Floppy Disk; Model Number: 1541; Serial Number: BA1A73536; FCC ID: BR98DD-1541
1 KAYPRO II
1 KAYPRO II Keyboard
7 Commodore Keyboards; Model Number 64; FCC ID: BR98YV-64
1- Serial Number: P00571266
2- Serial Number: P01201694
3- Serial Number: P00194582
4- Serial Number: P00523783
5- Serial Number: P5069951
6- Serial Number: P00667703
7- Serial Number: P5206846 (damaged)
6 Commodore Single Drive Floppy Model 1541; FCC ID: BR978H1541
1- Serial Number: BA1C15223
2- Serial Number: BA1C37290
3- Serial Number: AJ1A64384
4- Serial Number: BB1015068
5- Serial Number: AB1308436
6- Serial Number: JA1066169
3 Commodore C2N Cassettes; FCC ID: BR99VMC2N-A
1- Serial Number: 2644906
2- Serial Number: 2244157
3- Serial Number: 2201862
2 Commodore Datassettes; FCC ID: BR99VMC2N-A
4- Serial Number: 372569
5- Serial Number:1419210
1 Maxim Computer Cassette Unit; Model Number: PM-C16
5 Apple II Disk; FCC ID: BCG9GRDISKII; Model Number: A2M0003
1- Serial Number: 2147209
2- Serial Number: 1131734
3- Serial Number: 813903
4- Serial Number: 429981
5- Serial Number: 484451
Donations from Timothy P. Sweeney
1 Startfight Joystick
2 paddle joysticks
2 ATARI electrical cords
1 Atari joystick and STICKSTAND
1 ATARI 400, 16K
Model?# G 16K 441 2137
Serial? # 175 AVO43273-16 10/23 L4 (text ripped off sticker)
1 ATARI 410 Program Recorder
Serial # 44862
1 ATARI 1050 Disk Drive DOS 3 (with powercord)
Serial # 7VDFF 23960 494
1 ATARI 800 XL
1 SWITCH BOX CAO10112
Ms. PAC-MAN, Atari Cartridge
MUSIC COMPOSER, ATARI CXL4007, Cartridge
EASTERN FRONT (1941): Computer Strategy Game, ATARI RX8039, Cartridge
BASIC COMPUTING LANGUAGE, ATARI CXL4002, Cartridge
PAC-MAN Computer Game, ATARI CXL4022, Cartridge
SUPER BREAKOUT Computer Games, ATARI CXL4006, Cartridge
Cribbage & Dominoes, for ATARI 400/800
Sky Writer, ATARI Cartridge
DELTA DRAWING Learning Program, for ATARI 400/800/ALL X LS
Advertising insert for Spinnaker Software
KICKBACK, for ATARI 400/800
Flight Landing Simulator, Main Street Publishing, for Atari
Microsailing, Main Street Publishing, for Atari
CardWare: Animated Birthday Greeting Disk And All Occasion Card Maker, Commodore ATARI Flip Disk. C64/128 and ATARI 400/800
1 5.25″ floppy
Productivity Software/Blank Floppies/Cassettes
AtariLab starter set with temperature module. a science series for Atari computers. developed by Dickinson College. Atari Inc., 1983.
AtariLab temperature module cartridge
SynTrend: Graphing, Statistical Analysis & Forecasting, Atari
published by Synapse, copyright 1983
2 5.25″ floppies
SynFile+: The Ultimate Filing System, Atari
published by Synapse, copyright 1983
1 5.25″ floppies
SynCalc: Advanced Electronic Spreadsheet
published by Synapse, copyright 1983
2 5.25″ floppies
1 Blank Cassette, “Channel Master”
1 5.25″ Floppy, labelled “ATARI DOS 2.05 Single Density Working Disk”, DataTech 1D, Single Side/Double Density
1 5.25″ Floppy, labelled “DOS 3.0″, DataTech 1D, Single Side/Double Density
1 5.25″ Floppy, labelled “Homemade PGMS”, DataTech 1D, Single Side/Double Density
SUITCASE Font and Desk Acessory Liberation (for Apple Macintosh)
1 3.25″ floppy
Copyright 1987 Software Supply
ATARI Disk Operating System Reference Manual, DOS 3, Atari Inc., 1983.
ATARI Service Contract: Low Cost Protection For Your Atari Home Computer, Atari Inc., 1983.
An Introduction to the ATARI Disk Operating System, DOS 3. Atari Inc., 1983.
ATARI 1050 Disk Drive Owner’s Guide, Atari Inc., 1983.
ATARI 1050 Disk Drive: An Introduction to the ATARI Disk Operating System, Atari Inc., 1983.
[pamphlet] THE ATARI 400 COMPUTER SYSTEM. COMPUTERS FOR THE PEOPLE. ATARI INC., 1981.
THE ATARI 400 COMPUTER SYSTEM: THE BASIC COMPUTER OWNER’S GUIDE. ATARI INC., 1981.
ATARI BASIC Reference Guide. Atari Inc., 1983.
[photocopied manual in white binder] ATARI BASIC. by Bob Albrecht, Le Roy Finkel, and Jerald R. Brown. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1979.
THE BIG BROTHER THESAURUS. Deneba Software, 1988. no floppy.
FileMaker 4: Setting the Data Management Standard. Nashoba Systems. For Apple Macintosh. 1983.
HyperCard Quick Reference Guide. Apple Computer.
HyperCard: Installation and new features. 1998, Apple Computer.
Write Now 4: POWER Word Processing For the Macintosh. 1993, WordStar International.
HyperCard 2.0 Script Language Guide. 1989, Apple Computer.
Ashton-Tate Learning Full Impact. Owners Manual. 1990, Ashton-Tate Corporation.
MAC PAC ’88 $110 in rebate coupons on these leading products. Envelope with coupons enclosed.
The ATARI 800XL Home Computer Owners Guide. 1983, Atari Inc.
Scram Computer Program: A Nuclear Power Plant Simulation. Atari 400/800. (no cartridge)
10 Start Programs, from Family Computing. By Joey Lattimer. For Apple, Atari, Commodore 64 and VIC-20, TI, TIMEX, and TRS-80. 1983.
Family Computing: The Lure of Fantasy and Adventure Games. 1:2 (October 1983).
Family Computing: Preschool Computing: What’s Too Young? 1:3 (November 1983).
Family Computing: A Guide to Word Processing by Peter McWilliams. 1:4 (December 1983).
Family Computing: Computing Fun in the Sun. 2:1 (January 1984).
Family Computing: Computing and Careers. 2:4 (April 1984).
Family Computing: More Power for the Home. 3:11 (November 1985).
The Best of Family Computing Programs by Joey Latimer. 1985. Scholastic Inc.
Family Computing: Improve Your Job: Put Your Computer To Work at Home. 4:2 (February 1986).
Family Computing: Earn Money With Your Computer. 4:5 (May 1986).
Family Computing: Buyer’s Guide to Computers. 4:6 (June 1986).
Family Computing: Writing With Computers Part 1: How to Find the Right Word Processor for Your Needs. 4:8 (August 1986).
GPX Atari Program Exchange. Software Catalog Spring Edition 1982. User-Written Software for ATARI Home Computer Systems.
GPX Atari Program Exchange. Software Catalog Summer Edition 1982. User-Written Software for ATARI Home Computer Systems.
GPX Atari Program Exchange. Software Catalog Fall Edition 1982. User-Written Software for ATARI Home Computer Systems.
GPX Atari Program Exchange. Software Catalog Winter Edition 1982-1983. User-Written Software for ATARI Home Computer Systems.
Antic: The ATARI Resource. Communications special issue. 1:2 (June 1982).
Antic: The ATARI Resource. Printers special issue. 1:3 (August 1982).
ATARI SPECIAL ADDITIONS. Volume 1 Winter 1982. Catalog of Additional Products for your Atari Home Computer.
The ATARI Connection. 2:1 (Spring 1982). A New World of Information.
The ATARI Connection. 2:4 (Winter 1982). How to Introduce Your Child to a Home Computer.
The ATARI Connection Spring 1983. Debut: Atari 1200XL Home Computer
Donations from Robert Craig
1 Zenith Monitor for use with the Osborne computer
Model # ZVM-121
Service # ZVM-121 I5T?? (text unclear because ink is bleeding/fading)
Serial # 4045726
1 Osborne I with attached keyboard and power cable.
Date of purchase: 12/3/1082
Serial No. NA003113
Osborne I User’s Reference Guide (Print)
Osborne User’s Guide – Applications and Programming (Print)
Media Master Plus Application – 5.5in Floppy
This two program package includes
Disk-to-disk format conversion software
ZP/EM 8-bit Emulation for MS-DOS
Booklet for Microlink computer program for the Osborne
Guidebook for “dBase II Assembly Language – Database Management System Version 23b”
Manual Revision 1.C 12
For use on the Osborne I
JRT Pascal User’s Guide
185 pages detailing common problems and their solutions for the JRT implementation of the Pascal programming language.
FOG Volumes III and IV
The First Osborne Group’s Monthly CP/M publications, from Vol III No. 8 (May 1984) to Vol IV No. 12 (September 1985)
FOG Volumes V and VI (and parts of VII)
The First Osborne Group’s Monthly CP/M publications, from Vol V No. 1 (October 1985) to Vol VII No.6 (March 1988)
Various Pamphlets/Guidebooks on
82 Space Raiders
Instructions for “Eliza” – Osborne I Version
Ozzy-Man User Instructions
Retail Advertisement/Order form for Portable Software, Inc’s Games, Applications, and Hardware Accessories
Key-Wiz ver 1.01
The Double Density Upgrade for the Osborne one Computer “S/N AA50016um”
The 80 Column Upgrade “S/N BB06912”
Installation Procedure for Osborne Fan Assembly
EXMON external monitor adapter Instructions
Various Hardware for the Osborne I
Replacement back panel/handle attachement
Two screwdrivers – 1 Phillips, 1 specialty hexagonal shape
Two unknown Transistor-like replacement pieces, both 16 prong. Condition and use unknown
One converter, RCA to 20 prong system – possibly for use to convert video outputs
One 24 pronged replacement device
One Two pronged connector replacement piece
1 box of assorted 5.5 in Floppy disks (Some homemade, some purchased)
SS/SD Disk R/O Version 11
FOG – Starter.001
FOG – Starter.002
CPM.010 #1 of 2
CPM.010 #2 of 2
DU Disk Utility, Modem Program, Wash Utility
Addict Pack Disks 1-4
Portable Software Family Pack
Eliza Version 3.0 Microsoft BASIC-80 Version
DBASE II Tutor Disks 1-6
DBASE II disk
DBASE II Zip
DBASE II Sample Data files
JRT Pascal Ver 3.0 Disks 1-3
Osborne CP/M System
Osborne CP/M Utility
Osborne Micro Link
I was fortunate to have the chance to think through the relationship between the field of media archaeology, the Media Archaeology Lab, and digital preservation/stewardship thanks to this interview with Trevor Owens on the Library of Congress blog, The Signal, called “Media Archaeology and Digital Stewardship: An Interview with Lori Emerson.” The invitation to talk with Trevor was particularly fortuitous because Matthew Kirschenbaum had been here at CU Boulder the week before, discussing these very same issues in a faculty seminar he led called “Doing Media Archaeology.” You can read the interview here – I’d be interested in hearing comments you might have, especially about the possibility of a hardware/software resource sharing program.
Below is the introduction that Derek Beaulieu and I wrote for Writing Surfaces: Selected Fiction of John Riddell that Wilfred Laurier University Press is generously publishing in April 2013. Please do pre-order a copy through your local independent bookstore. The collection is, I think, a perfect instance of literary experimentation with media archaeology.
Introduction: Media Studies and Writing Surfaces
Writing Surfaces: The Fiction of John Riddell brings an overview of the work of John Riddell to a 21st-century audience, an audience who will see this volume as a radical, literary manifestation of media archaeology. This book is also, in the words of the promotional material of Riddell’s 1977 Criss-cross: a Text Book of Modern Composition, a “long-over-due debut by one of our most striking new fictioneers.”
Since 1963 John Riddell’s work has appeared in such foundational literary journals as grOnk, Rampike, Open Letter and Descant as part of an on-going dialogue with Canadian literary radicality. Riddell was an early contributing editor to bpNichol’s Ganglia, a micro-press dedicated to the development of community-level publishing and the distribution of experimental poetries. This relationship continued to evolve with his co-founding of Phenomenon Press and Kontakte magazine with Richard Truhlar (1976) and his involvement with Underwhich Editions (founded in 1978): a “fusion of high production standards and top-quality literary innovation” which focused on “presenting, in diverse and appealing physical formats, new works by contemporary creators, focusing on formal invention and encompassing the expanded frontiers of literary endeavour.”
Writing Surfaces: The Fiction of John Riddell reflects Riddell’s participation in these Toronto-based, Marshall McLuhan-influenced, experimental poetry communities from the 1960s until roughly the mid- to late-1980s. These communities, and the work of contemporaries bpNichol, Paul Dutton, jwcurry, Richard Truhlar and Steve McCaffery, give context to Riddell’s literary practice and his focus on ”pataphysics, philosophically-investigative prose and process-driven visual fiction. While many of his colleagues were more renowned for their poetic and sound-based investigations, Riddell clearly shared both Nichol’s fondness for the doubleness of the visual-verbal pun and Steve McCaffery’s technical virtuosity and philosophical sophistication. In his magazine publications, small press ephemera, and trade publications, Riddell created a conversation between these two sets of poetics and extended it to the realm of fiction (exploring a truly hybrid form that is poetry as much as it is fiction). Riddell’s work as fiction works to explore the development and accretion of narrative in time-based sequence, a fiction of visuality and media. Writing Surfaces is the documentation of Riddell pushing his own writing to the very limit of what conceivably counts as writing through writing.
While it’s true that the title “writing surfaces” carries with it the doubling and reversibility of noun and verb, reminding us how the page is as much a flat canvas for visual expression as it is a container for thought, the first title we proposed for this collection was “Media Studies.” The latter, while admittedly too academic-sounding to describe writing as visually and conceptually alive as Riddell’s, could still describe Riddell’s entire oeuvre; the term not only refers to the study of everyday media (such as television, radio, the digital computer and so on) but it can—in fact should—encompass the study of textual media and the ways in which writing engages with how it is shaped and defined by mediating technologies. In other words, Riddell’s work is a kind of textbook for the study of media through writing, or, the writing of writing.
The best-known example of Riddell’s writing of writing is “Pope Leo, El ELoPE: A Tragedy in Four Letters,” initially published in April 1969 with mimeograph illustrations by bpNichol through Nichol’s small but influential Canadian magazine grOnk. It was published again, with more refined, hand-drawn, illustrations, once again by Nichol, in the Governor General’s Award winning anthology Cosmic Chef: An Evening of Concrete (1970, the version included here) and in a further iteration in Criss-Cross: A Text Book of Modern Composition with illustrations by Filipino-Canadian comic book artist Franc Reyes (who would later pencil and ink Tarzan, House of Mystery and Weird War for dc comics and was involved with 1970s underground Canadian comix publisher Andromeda). “Pope Leo” relates a stripped-down comic-strip tale of the tragic murder of Pope Leo; the narrative unfolds partly by way of frames within frames, windows within windows, telling a minimalist story in which the comic-strip frame is nothing but a simple hand-drawn square with the remarkable power to bring a story into being. The anagrammatic text is an exploration of the language possibilities inherent in letters ‘p,’ ‘o,’ ‘l,’ and ‘e’ (hence the sub-title, “a tragedy in four letters”)—sometimes using one of the letters twice, sometimes dropping one, always rearranging, always moving back and forth along the spectrum of sense/nonsense: “O POPE LEO! PEOPLE POLL PEOPLE! PEOPLE POLE PEOPLE! LO PEOPLE.”
With a/z does it (1988), Riddell’s writing of writing focuses even more on the investigation of the possibilities of story that lie well beyond the form of the sentence, paragraph, the narrative arc. Rather than playing with the visual story structure of the frame and the verbal structure of the anagram as means by which to create a narrative, with pieces like “placid/special” Riddell first creates grid-like structures of text with the mono-spaced typewriter font and then uses a photocopier to document the movement of the text in waves across the glass bed. The resultant text is the visual equivalent of his earlier fine-tuned probing of the line between sense and nonsense in “Pope Leo.” These typewriter/photocopier pieces record both signal and noise as columns of text waver in and out of legibility. Semantically, these mirage-like texts focus on the words ‘placid’ (the lines of text reminding us of the symmetrical reversibility of ‘p’ and ‘d’ which begin and end the word), ‘love’ (with just the slightest suggestion of ‘velo’ at the beginning and end of each wave), ‘first,’ ‘i met,’ ‘special,’ ‘evening’ and ‘light’ (appearing as a hazy sunset moving down the page), and conclude with ‘relax’ and ‘enjoy.’ The paratactical juxtaposition of the two pages in “placid/special” creates the barest suggestion of a narrative about lovers enjoying an evening together while at the same time each page is in itself an even more minimalist story told through experiments with the manipulation of writing media.
Riddell’s writing of writing that is simultaneously sense and nonsense, verbal and visual, self-contained and serial—that demands to be read at the same time as it ought to be viewed—nearly reaches its zenith in later work such as E clips E (1989). In particular, “surveys” is writing only in the most technical sense with its Jackson Pollock-like paint drippings and scattered individual letters, all counter-balanced by neat, hand-drawn frames.
Just as Riddell’s compositions challenge how writers and readers form meaning, the original publications of many of the selections in Writing Surfaces, and Riddell’s larger oeuvre, were also physically constructed in a way that would demand reader participation. Riddell’s original publications include small press leaflets (Pope Leo, El ELoPE: A Tragedy in Four Letters), business card-sized broadsides (“spring”), chapbooks (A Hole in the Head and Traces) and pamphlets (How to Grow Your Own Light Bulbs). His work also extends into books as non-books: posters which double as dart boards (1987’s d’Art Board), novels arranged as packages of cigarettes (1996’s Smokes: a novel mystery) and decks of cards to be shuffled, played and processually read (1981’s War (Words at Roar), Vol.1: s/word/s games and others). Inside books with otherwise traditional appearances Riddell insists that his readers reject passive reception of writing in favour of a more active role. While outside of the purview of Writing Surfaces, 1996’s How to Grow Your Own Light Bulbs includes texts that must be excised and re-assembled (“Peace Puzzle”); burnt with a match (“Burnout!”); and written by the reader (“Nightmare Hotel”). Copies of the second edition of Riddell’s chapbook TRACES (1991) include a piece of mirrored foil to read the otherwise illegible text.
Riddell’s compositions do not just question the traditional role of the author; they attempt to annihate it. With “a shredded text” (1989) Riddell fed an original poem into a shredder, which then read the text and excreted (as writing) the waste material of that consumption. The act of machinistic consumption creates a new poem—the original was simply the material for the creation and documentation of the final piece. With “a shredded text” Riddell acts as editor to restrict the amount of waste that enters the manuscript of the book. The machine-author becomes a reader and writer of excess and non-meaning-based texts while the human-author becomes the voice of restraint and reason attempting to limit the presentation of continuous waste-production as writing. If, as Barthes argues, “to read […] is a labour of language. To read is to find meanings,” then the consumption and expulsion of texts by machines such as photocopiers and shredders produces meanings where meanings are not expected by fracturing the text at the level of creation and consumption—an act which is simultaneously both readerly and writerly.
Riddell’s oeuvre is almost entirely out of print and unavailable except on the rare book market. Working within the purview of 1970s and 1980s Canadian small presses means that Riddell’s writing proves elusive to a generation of readers who have come of literary age after the demise of such once-vital publishers such as Aya Press (which was renamed The Mercury Press in 1990 and has also ceased publishing), Underwhich Editions, Ganglia, grOnk and the original Coach House Press. As obscure as his original books may be, Riddell’s work remains a captivating example of hypothetical prose; dreamt narratives that have sprouted from our abandoned machines. With no words and no semantic content, we are left to read only the process of writing made product—a textbook of compositional method using writing media from the pen/pencil, the sheet of paper, the typewriter, the shredder, photocopier, to even the paintbrush. The medium is the message.
Reading Writing Interfaces: From the Digital to the Bookbound
(forthcoming University of Minnesota Press, 2014)
Table of Contents
Chapter 1: Indistinguishable From Magic | Invisible Interfaces and Digital Literature as Demystifier
1.0 Introduction | Invisible, Imperceptible, Inoperable
1.1 Natural, Organic, Invisible
1.2 The iPad | “a truly magical and revolutionary product”
1.3 From Videoplace to iOS | A Brief History of Creativity through Multitouch
1.5 Making the Invisible Visible | Hacking, Glitch, Defamiliarization in Digital Literature
Chapter 2: From the Philosophy of the Open to the Ideology of the User-Friendly
2.0 Introduction | Digging to Denaturalize
2.1 Open, Extensible, Flexible | NLS, Logo, Smalltalk
2.2 Writing as Tinkering | The Apple II and bpNichol, Geof Huth, Paul Zelevansky
2.3 Closed, Transparent, Task-oriented | The Apple Macintosh
Chapter 3: Typewriter Concrete Poetry and Activist Media Poetics
3.0 Introduction | Analog Hacktivism
3.1 The Poetics of a McLuhanesque Media Archaeology
3.2 Literary D.I.Y. and Concrete Poetry
3.3 From Clean to Dirty Concrete
3.4 bpNichol, Dom Sylvester Houédard, Steve McCaffery
Chapter 4: The Fascicle as Process and Product
4.0 Introduction | Against a Receding Present
4.1 My Digital Dickinson
4.2 The Digital/Dickinson Poem as Antidote to the Interface-Free
4.3 The Digital/Dickinson Poem as Thinkertoy
Chapter 5: Postscript | The Googlization of Literature
5.0 Introduction | Readingwriting
5.1 Computer-generated Writing and the Neutrality of the Machine
5.2 “And so they came to inhabit the realm of the very unimaginary”
Just as the increasing ubiquity and significance of digital media have provoked us to revisit the book as a technology, they have introduced concepts that, retroactively, we can productively apply to older media. Interface, a digital-born concept, is such an example. Reading Writing Interfaces: From the Bookbound to the Digital probes how interfaces have acted as a defining threshold between reader/writer and writing itself across several key techno-literary contexts. As I outline in the chapter summaries below, my book describes, largely through original archival research, ruptures in present and past media environments that expose how certain literary engagements with screen- and print-based technologies transform reading/writing practices. To borrow from Jussi Parikka’s What Is Meda Archaeology? (2012), my book “thinks” media archaeologically as its analyses undulate from present to past media environments. More specifically, I lay bare the way in which poets in particular – from the contemporary Jason Nelson and Judd Morrissey back to Emily Dickinson – work with and against interfaces across various media to undermine the assumed transparency of conventional reading and writing practices. My book, then, is a crucial contribution to the fields of media studies/digital humanities and poetry/poetics in its development of a media poetics which frames literary production as ineluctably involved in a critical engagement with the limits and possibilities of writing media.
My book works back through media history, probing poetry’s response to crucial moments in the development of digital and analog interfaces. That is, the book chapters move from the present moment to the past, each also using a particular historical moment to understand the present: Reading Writing Interfaces begins with digital poetry’s challenge to the alleged invisibility of multitouch in the early 21st century, moves to poets’ engagement with the transition from the late 1960s’ emphasis on openness and creativity in computing to the 1980s’ ideology of the user-friendly Graphical User Interface, to poetic experiments with the strictures of the typewriter in the 1960s and 1970s, and finally to Emily Dickinson’s use of the fascicle as a way to challenge the coherence of the book in the mid to late 19th century. Thus, throughout, I demonstrate how a certain thread of experimental poetry has always been engaged with questioning the media by which it is made and through which it is consumed. At each point in this non-linear history, I describe how this lineage of poetry undermines the prevailing philosophies of particular media ecology and so reveals to us, in our present moment, the creative limits and possibilities built into our contemporary technologies. By the time I return once again to the present moment in the post-script via the foregoing four techno-literary ruptures, I have made visible a longstanding conflict between those who would deny us access to fundamental tools of creative production and those who work to undermine these foreclosures on creativity. In many ways, then, my book reveals the strong political engagement driving a tradition of experimental poetry and argues for poetry’s importance in the digital age.
The underlying methodology of Reading Writing Interfaces is the burgeoning field of media archaeology. Media archaeology does not seek to reveal the present as an inevitable consequence of the past but instead looks to describe it as one possibility generated out of a heterogeneous past. Also at the heart of media archaeology is an on-going struggle to keep alive what Siegfried Zielinski calls “variantology” – the discovery of “individual variations” in the use or abuse of media, especially those variations that defy the ever-increasing trend toward “standardization and uniformity among the competing electronic and digital technologies.” Following Zielinski, I uncover a non-linear and non-teleological series of media phenomena – or ruptures – as a way to avoid reinstating a model of media history that tends toward narratives of progress and generally ignores neglected, failed, or dead media. That said, following on the debates in the field of digital humanities about the connection of theory and praxis (the so-called “more hack, less yack” debate) my book is more about doing than theorizing media archaeology; it considers these ruptures at the intersection of key writing technologies and responses by poets whose practice is at the limit of these technologies. Crucially, no books on or identified with media archaeology have engaged thoroughly with the literary and none have consistently engaged with poetry in particular; thus my book is also an innovation in the field in that it uses this methodology to read poetry by way of interface.
One of the most recent and well-known unveilings of an “interface-free interface” came in 2006 when research scientist Jeff Han introduced a 36-inch wide computing screen which allows the user to perform almost any computer-driven operation through multi-touch sensing. Han describes this interface as “completely intuitive . . . there’s no instruction manual, the interface just sort of disappears.” However, the interface does not disappear but rather, through a sleight-of-hand, deceives the user into believing there is no interface at all. I use this anecdote to open the introduction to Reading Writing Interfaces, first, as a way to illustrate the current trend in interface design which emphasizes usability at the expense of providing access to the underlying workings of interfaces, which in turn defines the limits and possibilities of creative expression. And second, I use the anecdote to begin a theoretical and historical overview of the notion of interface, particularly as it has played out in the computing industry in the last forty years. The definition of ‘interface’ I settle on throughout my book is one I adopt from Alexander Galloway to mean a technology, whether book- or screen-based, that acts as a threshold between reader and writing that also subtly delimits both the reading and writing process. This nuanced and yet expansive definition makes way for an acknowledgement of the decisive back-and-forth play that occurs between human and machine and it also broadens our conventional notions of interface to include a range of writing interfaces such as the command-line, the typewriter, or even the fascicle. In light of Reading Writing Interfaces‘ dual attention to media studies and poetry/poetics, I close the introduction with discussions of these two fields as they influence this project. I situate the book within media archaeology, which I take as my methodology, and explain how its emphasis on a non-teleological unearthing of uses/abuses of media allows me to proceed through my media history in reverse chronological order as I uncover media ruptures from the present through to the past. Finally, I conclude the introduction by pairing media archaeology with the notion of ‘media poetics’ as a way to account for poets’ activist engagement with the creative limits and possibilities of media.
The first chapter, titled “Indisinguishable From Magic: Invisible Interfaces and their Demystification,” thus begins with the present moment. Here I argue that contemporary writers such as Young-Hae Chang, Judd Morrissey, Jason Nelson, and Jörg Piringer advance a 21st century media poetics by producing digital poems which are deliberately difficult to navigate or whose interfaces are anything but user-friendly. For example, Morrissey and Nelson create interfaces that frustrate us because they seek to defamiliarize the interfaces we no longer notice; it is a literary strategy akin to Viktor Schklovksy’s early twentieth century invocation of ‘defamiliarization’ to describe the purpose of poetic language – except here it is deployed to force us to re-see interfaces of the present. I argue it is precisely against a troubling move toward invisibility in digital computing interfaces that Judd Morrissey has created texts such as “The Jew’s Daughter” – a work in which readers are invited to click on hyperlinks embedded in the narrative text, links which do not lead anywhere so much as they unpredictably change some portion of the text before our eyes. The result of our attempts to navigate such a frustrating interface, structured as it is by hyperlinks we believe ought to lead us somewhere, is that the interface of the Web come into view once again. Likewise working against the clean, supposedly transparent interface of the Web, in “game, game, game and again game” Jason Nelson creates a game-poem in which he self-consciously embraces a hand-drawn, hand-written aesthetic while deliberately undoing poetic and videogame conventions through a nonsensical point-system and mechanisms that ensure the player neither accumulates points nor “wins.” At the heart, then, of the most provocative digital poems lies a thoroughgoing engagement with difficulty or even failure. By hacking, breaking, or simply making access to interfaces trying, these writers work against the ways in which these interfaces are becoming increasingly invisible even while these same interfaces also increasingly define what and how we read/write. In this chapter I also pay particular attention to how writers such as Jörg Piringer are creating poetry “apps” which work against the grain of the multitouch interface that has been popularized by Apple’s iPad – a device that perfectly exemplifies the ways in which the interface-free interface places restrictions on creative expression in the name of an ideology, more than a philosophy, of the user-friendly.
The second chapter, “From the Philosophy of the Open to the Ideology of the User-Friendly,” uncovers the shift from the late 1960s to the early 1980s that made way for those very interfaces I discuss in chapter one which are touted as utterly invisible. Based on original archival research I undertook of historically important computing magazines such as Byte, Computer, and Macworld as well as handbooks published by Apple Inc. and Xerox, I bring to light the philosophies driving debates in the tech industry about interface and the consequences of the move from the command-line interface in the early 1980s to the first mainstream windows-based interface introduced by Apple in the mid-1980s. I argue that the move from a philosophy of computing based on a belief in the importance of open and extensible hardware to the broad adoption of the supposedly user-friendly Graphical User Interface, or the use of a keyboard/screen/mouse in conjunction with windows, fundamentally changed the computing landscape and inaugurated an era in which users have little or no comprehension of the digital computer as a medium. Thus, media poetics prior to the release of the Apple Macintosh in 1984 mostly takes the form of experimentation with computers such as the Apple IIe that at the time were new to writers. Digital poetry from the early 1980s by bpNichol, Geof Huth, and Paul Zelevansky does not work to make the command-line or Apple IIe interface visible so much as it openly plays with and tentatively tests the parameters of the personal computer as a still-new writing technology. This kind of open experimentation almost entirely disappeared for a number of years as Apple Macintosh’s design innovations and their marketing made open computer architecture and the command-line interface obsolete and GUIs pervasive.
In the third chapter, “Typewriter Concrete Poetry and Activist Media Poetics,” I delve into the era from the early 1960s to the mid-1970s in which poets, working heavily under the influence of Marshall McLuhan and before the widespread adoption of the personal computer, sought to create concrete poetry as a way to experiment with the limits and possibilities of the typewriter. These poems – particularly those by the Canadian writers bpNichol and Steve McCaffery and the English Benedictine monk Dom Sylvester Houédard – often deliberately court the media noise of the typewriter as a way to draw attention to the typewriter-as-interface. As such, when Andrew Lloyd writes in the 1972 collection Typewriter Poems that “a typewriter is a poem. A poem is not a typewriter,” he gestures to the ways in which poets enact a media-analysis of the typewriter via writing as they cleverly undo stereotypical assumptions about the typewriter itself: a poem written on a typewriter is not merely a series of words delivered via a mechanical writing device and, for that matter, neither is the typewriter merely a mechanical writing device. Instead, these poems express and enact a poetics of the remarkably varied material specificities of the typewriter as a particular kind of mechanical writing interface that necessarily inflects both how and what one writes. Further, since they are about their making as much as they are about their reading/viewing, if we read these concrete poems in relation to Marshall McLuhan’s unique pairing of literary studies with media studies – a pairing which is also his unique contribution to media archaeology avant la lettre – we can again reimagine formally experimental poetry and poetics as engaged with media studies and even with hacking reading/writing interfaces. Further, this chapter also draws on archival research to uncover not only the influence of McLuhan on concrete poetry but – for the first time – to delineate concrete poetry’s influence on those writings by McLuhan that are now foundational to media studies.
In the fourth chapter, “The Fascicle as Process and Product,” I read digital poems into and out of Emily Dickinson’s use of the fascicle; I assert the fascicle is a writing interface that is both process and product from a past that is becoming ever more distant the more enmeshed in the digital we become and the more the book becomes a fetishized object. Otherwise put, her fascicles, as much as the later-twentieth century digital computers and the mid-twentieth century typewriters I discuss in chapters two and three, are now slowly but surely revealing themselves as a kind of interface that defines the nature of reading as much as writing. More, extending certain tenets of media archaeology I touch on above, I read the digital into and out of Dickinson’s fascicles as a way to enrich our understanding of her work. Such a reading is a self-conscious exploitation of the terminology and theoretical framing of the present moment which – given the ubiquity of terms that describe digital culture such as ‘interface,’ ‘network,’ ‘link,’ etc. or even of such now commonly understood terms such as ‘bookmark’ and ‘archive’ which previously were only used by the bookish or the literary scholar – is so steeped in the digital and which, often without our knowing, saturates our language and habits of thought.
Finally, in chapter five, the postscript to Reading Writing Interfaces, “The Googlization of Literature,” I focus on the interface of the search engine, particularly Google’s, to describe one of conceptual writing’s unique contributions to contemporary poetry/poetics and media studies. Building on the 20th century’s computer-generated texts, conceptual writing gives us a poetics perfectly appropriate for our current cultural moment in that it implicitly acknowledges we are living not just in an era of the search engine algorithm but in an era of what Siva Vaidhyanathan calls “The Googlization of Everything.” When we search for data on the Web we are no longer “searching” – instead, we are “Googling.” But conceptual writers such as Bill Kennedy, Darren Wershler, and Tan Lin who experiment with/on Google are not simply pointing to its ubiquity – they are also implicitly questioning how it works, how it generates the results it does, and so how it sells ourselves back to us. Such writing is an acknowledgement of the materiality of language in the digital that goes deeper than a recognition of the material size, shape, sound, texture of letters and words that characterizes much of twentieth-century bookbound, experimental poetry practices. These writers take us beyond the 20th century avant garde’s interest in the verbal/vocal/visual aspect of materiality to urge us instead to attend to the materiality of 21st century digital language production. They ask, what happens when we appropriate the role of Google for our own purposes rather than Google’s? What happens when we wrest Google from itself and instead use it not only to find out things about us as a culture but to find out what Google is finding out about us? “The Googlization of Literature,” then, concludes Reading Writing Interfaces by providing an even more wide-ranging sense of poetry’s response to the interface-free.
Below is the Impact Report that Dene Grigar, Kathi Inman Berens, and I put together to document all activities related to the first ever exhibit and reading of Electronic Literature at the 2012 MLA Annual Convention. This report should also prove useful to electronic literature scholars who are seeking additional support for the importance of the field as well as anyone planning a similar exhibit who needs to advocate for their work as scholarly activity. Sincere thanks to Matthew Kirschenbaum, Matthew Gold, Rosemary Feal, Brian Croxall, Ian Bogost, and Bethany Nowviskie for contributing testimonials to our final report. Finally, thank you too to Judy Malloy who kindly published our report on her website.
You may also download a pdf of the Impact Report.
Electronic Literature Exhibit Impact Report
MLA 2012, January 5-8, 2012
Curated by Dene Grigar, Lori Emerson, and Kathi Inman Berens
This report is intended to provide stakeholders involved in the Electronic Literature Exhibit, held in Seattle, WA from January 5th to 8th at the 2012 Modern Languages Association Convention with information concerning the Exhibit’s impact. Impact, from our perspective, is tied to the overarching mission of the Exhibit, which we articulated as “to expand scholarship and creative output in the area of Electronic Literature by introducing Humanities scholars to the art form.” In order to achieve this mission, we identified, at the outset of the development of the Exhibit, four goals. These were to:
- Introduce scholars to a broad cross-section of born digital literary writing, both historic and current
- Provide scholarship and resources to scholars for the purpose of further study of Electronic Literature
- Encourage those interested in the creative arts to produce Electronic Literature
- Promote Electronic Literature in a manner that may encourage younger generations to engage with reading literary works
All activities relating to the Exhibit––from the inclusion of five student docents who assisted visitors at the Exhibit, to the “Readings and Performances” event on Friday night at the Hugo House, to the four-platform social media marketing plan and archival work undertaken by undergraduates in the Creative Media & Digital Culture Program, to inclusion of undergraduate works of Electronic Literature in the Exhibit, to the ongoing web archive of the site––have been developed to help us meet these goals.
Assessment of success in attaining these goals is built on information in four areas:
- References to the exhibit by humanities scholars
- Inclusion of the web archive in scholarly databases
- New scholarship and creative output generating from it
- Physical and virtual engagement of visitors with the Exhibit and its online archive
We view this report as “preliminary” because print-based data is not yet available for inclusion. Thus, this phase of our report includes data stemming from electronic publications and media; they serve as the first step in the process of analysis and evaluation of the success of the Exhibit. For the most part, the data covers a short period of time surrounding the Exhibit, from mid-November 2011 when the web archive was launched to mid-January 2012 after the closing of the Exhibit.
1. References to the Exhibit by Humanities Scholars
Ball, Cheryl. “Review of Profession 2011 section on ‘Evaluating Digital
Scholarship.’” Kairos 16.2. Spring 2012. http://kairos.technorhetoric.net/16.2/loggingon/lo-profession.html. Retrieved: 28 Jan. 2012.
“Digital Commons.” NYU Department of English. http://nyuenglish.com/. Retrieved: 1
“Editor’s Choice: Round Up of AHA and MLA Conferences.” Digital Humanities
Now. 9 Jan. 2012. http://digitalhumanitiesnow.org/2012/01/ec-round-up-of-aha-and-mla-conferences/. Retrieved: 28 Jan. 2012.
Jackson, Korey. “Once More with Feeling: How MLA Found Its Heart.”
HASTAC 16 Jan. 2012. http://hastac.org/blogs/kbjack/2012/01/16/back-mla-report-not-badgood-fact. Retrieved: 28 Jan. 2012. Reprinted in Mpublishing: U of Michigan Library. 16 Jan. 2012. http://publishing.umich.edu/2012/01/16/mpub-mla/. Retrieved: 28 Jan. 2012.
Kinett, Dylan. NoCategories.comThe Death of Hypertext?
Malloy, Judy. “MLA 2012 to Feature Exhibition of Electronic Literature.” Authoring
Software. 28 Dec. 2011. http://www.narrabase.net/elit_software_news.html#dec28_2011. Retrieved: 28 Jan. 2012.
MLA Newsletter. V 44 Number 1. Spring 2012. http://www.mla.org/pdf/nl_441_web.pdf.
Taylor, Laurie, N., “E-Lit Exhibit at MLA; Exhibits, Peer Review, and What
Counts.” 2 Jan. 2012. http://laurientaylor.org/2012/01/02/elit-exhibit-mla-exhibits-peer-review-what-counts/. Retrieved: 28 Jan. 2012.
Image from MLA Newsletter. V 44 Number 1. Spring 2012
2. Inclusion of the Web Archive in Scholarly Databases
Electronic Literature as a Model of Creativity and Innovation in Practice (ELMCIP) Knowledge Base. http://elmcip.net/event/electronic-literature-exhibit-0.
3. New Scholarship and Creative Output Generating from the Exhibit
Berens, Kathi Inman. “Haptic Play as Narrative in Mobile Electronic Literature.” Forthcoming in ebr: electronic book review. Spring 2012.
Grigar, Dene. Born Digital Literature: Understanding Literary Works for the Electronic
Medium. Book Proposal.
Grigar, Dene and Kathi Inman Berens. “Avenues of Access: A Juried Exhibit & Online
Archives of ‘Born Digital’ Literature.” Forthcoming at the 2013 Modern Language Association Convention. January 2013; Boston, MA.
Grigar, Dene, Lori Emerson, and Kathi Inman Berens. “Curating Electronic Literature.”
Forthcoming in Rhizomes. Spring 2012. http://www.rhizomes.net/.
4. Physical and Virtual Engagement of Visitors with the Exhibit and Its Online Archive
Electronic Literature Exhibit at the MLA 2012.
Visits: 503; attendance at Readings and Performances event held at The Hugo House on Friday, January 6, 2012: 107.
Electronic Literature (Main Archival Site). http://dtc-wsuv.org/mla2012.
1673 total visits from 10 Nov. 2011- 18 Jan. 2012; 1733 total visits as of 27 Jan. 2012.
Visitors to the site came from: the US, Sweden, Canada, Spain, Norway, the UK, Italy, Albania, Australia, Denmark, Greece, Puerto Rico, France, Germany, India, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Austria, Philippines, Colombia, and Algeria.
Kathi Inman Berens’ Curatorial Statement. http://kathiiberens.com/2011/12/06/curatorial-statement/).
539 total visits from 6 Dec. – 8 Dec. 2011 – 18 Jan. 2012
Lori Emerson’s Curatorial Statement. http://loriemerson.net/2011/12/05/performing-e-literature-e-literature-performing/.
388 total visits from 5 Dec. 2011-18 Jan. 2012.
“Electronic Literature Readings and Performances” Poster. http://twitpic.com/81ek4y.
440 total visits.
Storify archive of the event. http://storify.com/kathiiberens/e-literature-exhibit-at-mla12/.
128 from 10 Jan. 2012-28 Jan. 2012.
Facebook and Mini-Site. http://www.facebook.com/wsuv.mla.elit2012.
145 Total Likes; 43,444 “Friends of Fans.” Friends came from US, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Mexico, Singapore, Ethiopia, the UK, and The Bahamas. 12/28/11-1/16/12
72 Followers as of 27 Jan. 2012.
“Invisible Seattle Visible Again.” Press release created by Washington State University Vancouver’s Marketing Department. 3 Jan. 2012. http://news.wsu.edu/pages/publications.asp?Action=Detail&PublicationID=29434. Retrieved: 28 Jan. 2012. Reprinted in WSU News as “Ahead of Their Time.” 3 Jan. 2012. http://news.wsu.edu/pages/publications.asp?Action=Release&PublicationID=29434. Retrieved: 28 Jan. 2012. Reprinted also in WSU’s College of Liberal Arts website.
This section gathers comments from those individuals we solicited for comments about the MLA12 Elit Exhibit.
From Matthew Kirschenbaum:
Although I was not in Seattle this year, I followed the electronic literature exhibition through Twitter, Flickr, and Facebook. If, as William Carlos Williams once said, “no ideas but in things,” then the “things” of electronic literature are never just the pixels on the screen or even the code churning underneath. Its *things* are also its hardware and platforms: the vintage console, the floppy disk as familiar yet remote as vinyl, the conventions of an antiquarian operating system or a long retired interface. I can truthfully say that there is nothing more vital to what I have elsewhere called the .txtual condition than the kind of project championed by this group of digital archaeologists. Such attention to the minute material particulars of recovery, restoration, and curation is not only essential to the survival of electronic literature (imperiled by its native digital state) but indeed to all literary texts in a digital age.
From Matthew Gold:
The E-Lit exhibit altered the dynamics of #mla12, giving participants a reflective and absorbing space in which they could take in a variety of experiments in digital textuality. I was struck by the careful consideration that the organizers of the exhibit had put into it and by the efforts they had made to reproduce works of electronic literature in their native computing environments. Entering the exhibit, one was greeted by the enthusiastic and knowledgable staff and exhibit organizers, for whom the installation was clearly a work of scholarly passion. For me, at least, the exhibit felt like a port in a storm. It was wonderful to have this kind of space at the MLA and I strongly encourage the organization to continue to support similar efforts in the future.
From Rosemary Feal:
The MLA was pleased to host the Electronic Literature Exhibit at the 2012 MLA Convention as part of our continuing development of convention formats that allow members to present the full range of their creative, pedagogical, and scholarly activities. The three-day exhibit gave ample opportunity for our 8,000 convention attendees to visit the exhibit and to consider the experimental reach and creative power of the 160 digital works that were showcased. By all reports, the steady stream of attendees generated a lively and ongoing discussion about the potential of new media for literary expression. The E-Lit exhibit nicely complemented the dozens of other convention sessions that explored the impact of digital media on the humanities (click here <
> for a list of these sessions) as well as the convention’s 695 other panels, roundtables, workshops, addresses, and events. Particularly exciting is the way the reach of the exhibit was extended in time and space through an off-site live reading by some of the participating authors, an exhibit Web site, the #mla12 twitter stream, and discussion in blogs, demonstrating the growing potential of networked online environments for scholarly communication as well as artistic expression.
From Brian Croxall:
Over the last four years, I have had frequent occasion to teach electronic literature in various English classes. Repeatedly, my students have told me that they’ve never read anything like it in any of my colleagues classes. While there are many reasons for this, I believe one of them is that many literature faculty members simply have not been exposed to electronic literature. It was a great pleasure, then, to see the E-Lit Exhibit at MLA12. Each time I poked my head in the room, there were different audiences enjoying the different works that covered more than 20 years of electronic writing. Given the current interest in the digital humanities, it was important to see the history of the digital within the humanities. The Exhibit created the perfect focal point around which conversations about e-lit could continue after the several fascinating panels on the subject. The Jan. 6 reading of e-literature further encouraged participants to think of e-lit not so much as a radical Other but as one end on a spectrum of literary output that can be read and examined within the context of the MLA. I appreciate the MLA’s support of the exhibit and would encourage similar exhibits in the future. There is certainly more e-lit that could be showcased in such a manner but so too could artist’s books, to name but one example.
From Ian Bogost:
January 2012 marked the date of the first exhibit (curated by Dene Grigar, Lori Emerson, and Kathi Inman Berens) of electronic literature ever hosted by the Modern Language Association at their annual convention in Seattle, WA. Remarkably, the exhibit was visited by over 500 people and since the end of the exhibit, five humanities scholars have written about the exhibit. Digital humanities librarian Laurie Taylor has suggested that the exhibit is an example of scholarly activity (“the E-Lit Exhibit is extremely important as an exhibit/event in itself. It’s also extremely important as an example/model for future exhibits with MLA and for all who are interested in how changes in scholarly communication are affecting the humanities, how to support scholarly work outside of silos…and what counts as scholarship.”). I couldn’t agree more with this assessment. Indeed, a curated exhibit is a standard example of creative productivity in most fields in the arts, and it’s high time humanists update their standards.
As an extension of the exhibit, Lori Emerson organized a reading/performance of e-literature by authors whose work was included in the exhibit. The reading included the some of the most prominent practitioners of digital writing/art/gaming including Jim Andrews, Kate Armstrong, John Cayley, Erin Costello/Aaron Angelo, Marjorie Luesebrink, Mark Marino, Nick Montfort, Brian Kim Stefans, Stephanie Strickland, Rob Wittig, and myself. About 100 people attended this reading, which was both a fascinating display of the ways in which many of the works in the exhibit are performative in their right and an exploration of the role of the author-programmer in a live performance.
As a participant in both the exhibit and the reading, I was particularly pleased to be able to share my work with an audience that was receptive to my particular and unique brand of videogame poetry.
From Bethany Nowviskie:
I just want to share a word of thanks with you for the splendid work you [Kathi Inman Berens], Dene Grigar, and Lori Emerson did in organizing the E-Lit exhibit at MLA12. This was one of the best-arranged and most carefully thought-out exhibits I have ever seen of the kind, and visiting it was a high point of the conference for me. I was struck especially by the careful historicizing you did in the arrangement of the stations and the interesting juxtapositions you created, between canonical and lesser-known works (many of which were entirely new to me). The care you took with all this is evident in your three terrific curatorial statements. The exhibit clearly struck a chord with many MLA attendees, and I sat in on at least three panels in which presenters made reference to works they had seen, or commented on the subjects of their papers in relation to the themes of the conference’s E-lit events. I left wishing I had had more time to spend in the room — so was thrilled to discover the extensive website you put together, and know I will be referring students and Scholars’ Lab graduate fellows to your bibliographies and lists of featured works again and again.
 Kairos: A Journal of Rhetoric, Technology, and Pedagogy began in 1996 and since that time has grown to 45,000 readers per month; additionally, it is referenced electronically (i.e. “backlinked”) by 2500 sites.
 DH Now has 2794 Followers on Twitter. Its site had 14,500 visits with 5000 unique visitors, and 48,000 total page views in Nov. 2011. See http://www.ucl.ac.uk/infostudies/melissa-terras/DigitalHumanitiesInfographic.pdf.
 HASTAC (Humanities Arts Science & Technology Advanced Collaboratory) says in its September 6, 2011 report that it has 7150 members and that its site has seen 350,000 unique visitors to its forums since 2009. See http://hastac.org/about.
 ELMCIP is a “collaborative research project funded by Humanities in the European Research Area (HERA) JRP for Creativity and Innovation and involves seven European academic research partners and one non-academic partner.” Its mission is to “investigate how creative communities of practitioners form within a transnational and transcultural context in a globalized and distributed communication environment. Focusing on the electronic literature community in Europe as a model of networked creativity and innovation in practice, ELMCIP is intended both to study the formation and interactions of that community and also to further electronic literature research and practice in Europe. The partners include: The University of Bergen, Norway (PL Scott Rettberg, Co-I Jill Walker Rettberg), the Edinburgh College of Art, Scotland (PI Simon Biggs, Co-I Penny Travlou), Blekinge Institute of Technology, Sweden (PI Maria Engberg, Co-I Talan Memmott), The University of Amsterdam, Netherlands (PI Yra Van Dijk), The University of Ljubljana, Slovenia (PI Janez Strechovec), The University of Jyväskylä, Finland (PI Raine Koskimaa), and University College Falmouth at Dartington, England (PI Jerome Fletcher), and New Media Scotland.”
 “The Electronic Literature Organization was founded in 1999 to foster and promote the reading, writing, teaching, and understanding of literature as it develops and persists in a changing digital environment. A 501c(3) non-profit organization, the ELO includes writers, artists, teachers, scholars, and developers.”
 It should be noted that Canada’s Poet Laureate Fred Wah, who lives in British Columbia, drove to Seattle specifically to visit the exhibit and attend the Readings and Performances associated with the exhibit.
Since I’ve been posting bits and pieces here from or on my book project, Reading Writing Interfaces, I wanted to also post what I’ve been thinking through in the third chapter “From the Philosophy of the Open to the Ideology of the User-Friendly.” Below is the introductory section for the chapter in which I outline my interest in the shift from a philosophy of the open, flexible and extensible to the closed environment of the “user-friendly” Macintosh which continues to influence the shape of contemporary computing.
“Compared to the phosphorescent garbage heap of DOS – an intimidating jumble of letters and commands – the world one entered into when flicking on a Macintosh was a clean, well-lit room, populated by wry objects, yet none so jarring that it threatened one’s comforting sense of place. It welcomed your work.” (Levy 157)
In the Old Testament there was the first apple, the forbidden fruit of the Tree of Knowledge, which with one taste sent Adam, Eve, and all mankind into the great current of History. The second apple was Isaac Newton’s, the symbol of our entry into the age of modern science. The Apple Computers symbol was not chosen purely at random: it represents the third apple, the one that widens the paths of knowledge leading toward the future. (Gassée 10-11)
The third cut I make into the history of twentieth century reading/writing interfaces is the era of the personal computer that was preceded by Douglas Engelbart, Alan Kay, and Seymour Papert’s experiments with (especially educational) computing and interface design from the mid-1960s to mid-1970s and that began with expandable homebrew kits from the mid- to late-1970s, irrevocably transforming into so-called “user-friendly,” closed, work-stations with the release of the Apple Macintosh in late January 1984.
This chapter, then, concerns itself with two significant aspects of this roughly ten year period: first, the shift from seeing a user-friendly computer as a tool that encourages understanding, tinkering, and creativity to seeing a user-friendly computer in terms of an efficient work-station for productivity and task-management and the effect of this shift particularly on digital literary production. Second, tightly connected to the first, this chapter concerns itself with the rupture marked by the turn from computer systems based on the command-line interface to those based on “direct manipulation” interfaces that are iconic or graphical (GUI) – a turn driven by rhetoric that insisted the GUI, particularly that pioneered by the Apple Macintosh design team, was not just different from the command-line interface but it was naturally better, easier, friendlier. As I outline in the second section of this chapter, the Macintosh was, as Jean-Louis Gassée (who headed up its development after Steve Jobs’ departure in 1985) writes without any hint of irony, “the third apple,” after the first apple in the Old Testament and the second apple that was Isaac Newton’s, is “the one that widens the paths of knowledge leading toward the future.” (11)
Despite studies released since 1985 that clearly demonstrate GUIs are not necessarily better than command-line interfaces in terms of how easy they are to learn and to use, Apple – particularly under Jobs’ leadership – successfully created such a convincing aura of inevitable superiority around the Macintosh GUI that to this day the same “user-friendly” philosophy, paired with the no longer noticed closed architecture, fuels consumers’ religious zeal for Apple products. I should note that I have been an avid consumer of Apple products since I owned my first Macintosh Powerbook in 1995. However, what concerns me is that ‘user-friendly’ now takes the shape of keeping users steadfastly unaware and uninformed about how their computers, their reading/writing interfaces, work let alone how they shape and determine their access knowledge and their ability to produce knowledge. As Wendy Chun points out, it’s a system in which users are, on the one hand, given the ability to “map, to zoom in and out, to manipulate, and to act” but, she implies, the result is is a “seemingly sovereign individual” who is mostly an devoted consumer of ready-made software, ready-made information whose framing and underlying (filtering) mechanisms we are not privy to (8).
Thus, the trajectory of this argument culminates in chapter four, in which I make it clear that the logical conclusion of this shift to the ideology (if not the religion) of the user-friendly via the Graphical User Interface (GUI) is, first, expressed in contemporary multi-touch, gestural, and ubiquitous computing devices such as the iPad and the iPhone whose interfaces are touted as utterly invisible (and so their inner workings are de facto invisible as they are also inaccessible); and, second, this full realization of frictionless, interface-free computing born out of the mid-1980s is in turn critiqued by works of activist digital media poetics. From this perspective, it is, then, no coincidence at all that Apple had actually designed something like an iPhone in 1983; at the same time that Macintosh designers were hard at work, Hartmut Esslinger, the designer of the Apple IIc, built a white landline phone complete with a built-in, stylus-driven touch-screen. (“Apple’s First iPhone”). The Apple IIc was in fact a close relative of the Macintosh in terms of portability and lack of internal expansion slots which made them both closed systems; the IIc was also released in 1984, just three months after the Macintosh.
But while chronologically proceeding from the era of the typewriter, using a media archaeology methodology to understand this particular rupture in media history means that activist media poetics plays out quite differently in the 1980s as it was an era newly oriented toward the efficient completion of tasks over and beyond a creative use or mis-use of the computer. Arguably one reason for the heightened engagement in hacking type(writing) in the mid-1960s to mid-1970s is that the typewriter had become so ubiquitous in homes and offices that it had also become invisible to its users. It is precisely at the point at which a technology saturates a culture that writers and artists, whose craft is utterly informed by a sensitivity to their tools, begin to break apart that same technology to once again draw attention to the way in which it offers certain limits and possibilities to both thought and expression. There are indeed examples of digital media activist poems that also inherit an emphasis on making, doing, hacking but – once again – it seems to me that the vast majority of these works do not appear until both the personal computer and the user-friendly computer whose GUI is designed to keep the user passively consuming technology rather than actively producing it become practically ubiquitous.
As I discuss in the first section of this chapter, activist media poetics in this particular time period mostly takes the form of experimentation with digital tools that at the time were new to writers – an experimentation that, at least under the terms set by Mckenzie Wark’s Hacker Manifesto, certainly could be framed as hacking (Wark infamously writes that “Hackers create the possibility of new things entering the world”  and that “The slogan of the hacker class is not the workers of the world united, but the workings of the world untied” ). However, as I will discuss, work by Invisible Seattle, bpNichol, Paul Zelevansky, Geof Huth, and Robert Pinsky is not working to make the (in this case) command-line interface visible so much as it is openly playing with and tentatively testing the parameters of the personal computer as a still-new writing technology. This kind of open experimentation almost entirely disappeared once Apple Macintosh’s design innovations as well as their marketing made open computer architecture and the command-line interface obsolete and GUIs pervasive.
 Related to this shift from the homebrew kit to the user-friendly GUI-based personal computer is the initial attempt to make computers appear friendly to uncertain, first-time buyers by marketing them as sophisticated typewriters. For example, Don Lancaster’s declares in the TV Typewriter Cookbook that his 1973 TV Typewriter can “convert an ordinary Selectric office typewriter into a superb hard-copy printer” (218); and a 1979 advertisement in Byte magazine for the word processor AUTOTYPE (produced by Infinity Micro) – “a true processor of words – oddly includes images of text in the shape of arrows and trees which could easily be mistaken for typewriter-created concrete poetry. (“Autotype” 169)
 It’s worth noting that, despite Gassée’s hyperbolic rhetoric that I use to help demonstrate the ideological fervor of those working for Apple in the 1980s, his vision for Macintosh was quite different from Jobs’ in that Gassée helped shepherd onto the market three models of the Macintosh (the Mac Plus, Mac II, and Mac SE) that were all expandable instead of the first generation Macintosh which actively prevented users from opening up the computer by, as I describe in the body of this chapter, giving the user a small electrical shock if they did not adhere to the warnings. While these later models of the Macintosh included expansion slots which philosophically returned Apple to the era of Steve Wozniak’s Apple II (whose six expansion slots permitted a whole range of devices for display controllers, memory boards, hard disks etc.), it seems clear that the return of Jobs to Apple in 1997 meant – and still does mean – a return to keeping the inner workings of Apple computers and computing devices firmly closed off to users.
 For example, in 1985 John Whiteside et al wrote in “User Performance with Command, Menu, and Iconic Interfaces” that “interface style is not related to performance or preference (but careful design is)” and further they concluded, “the care with which an interface is crafted is more important than the style of interface chosen, at least for menu, command, and iconic systems.” (185, 190) Such studies have been repeated as recently as 2007 (see Chen et al).
 It is precisely out of a media archaeology impulse that I have created the Archeological Media Lab at the University of Colorado at Boulder – a lab which houses most of the computers I discuss in this chapter, including the Apple II, Apple Lisa, and Apple Macintosh – precisely because their out-datedness very clearly communicates to us now the design ideologies behind both their hardware and software that delimits what can be written, what can be thought. The key to the lab’s success will be to avoid presenting these machines as novelty or kitsch and instead approach each of them as a productive field for understanding our computing past and present.
I’d like to continue thinking here on the future of a possible school of ICMJT (Information, Communication, Media, Journalism, Technology) at CU Boulder by expanding on a few points I raised in my first post and proposing several important additions to my vision of what this future school could look like.
First, in my last post, I pointed out that such a school would have to support meaningful cross-disciplinary collaborative research and teaching. But why exactly? Rather than me attempt to speak from some non-existent trans-disciplinary perspective, take one of the fields I work in as an example: electronic or digital literature – digital born literature meant to be read or accessed on a computer and that makes the most of the digital medium. It’s my sense that while the shift from, say, printing press to typewriter undoubtedly was a catalyst for substantial changes in reading, writing, publishing practices, the shift to the digital computer has wrought far more radical changes – at least partly because, as Friedrich Kittler pointed out some time ago, it reduces all information to zeros and ones which in turn means the digital computer subsumes all media. As such, it seems to me that the future of electronic literature cannot be the study of digital textuality purely from a literary perspective -as the net artist (previously poet, perhaps even digital poet) Jim Andrews puts it, “the synthesis of arts and media reaches a crucial stage with the advent of the computer because the boundaries of representation between media are dissolved.” Or, if you look at any one of Jason Nelson‘s works, you will see it is equal parts video-game, poem, and net-art; it’s the kind of work that demands the expertise of more than one scholar.
Or, take a substantially better funded example of these new cross-genre digital works of art that befit the digital medium: Björk’s “Biophilia,” an app album that is a suite of “interactive, educational artworks and musical artifacts” whose production involved a team of software engineers, essayists, typography experts, producers, designers, narrators, animators, and so on. How could any one scholar account for the entirety of this multimedia work? While while might object that, by this logic, any work of art or literature demands acknowledgement by a team of scholars, I would respond by asserting that the digital is – as I point out above – a uniquely complex, even all-compassing medium that does not offer such a cross-disciplinary perspective so much as it insists upon it.
However, despite what the research and creation of these digital works require, simple encouragement of interdisciplinary, collaborative scholarship and teaching will not amount to anything unless the university is willing to revisit and revise its standards for tenure and promotion – standards which, at this moment, value single authored journal articles, monographs, works of art/literature. There are indeed precedents for this shift in standards and my colleague Katherine D. Harris was kind enough to point out several resources for evaluating Digital Humanities scholarship – the first of which is a white paper that came out of an NEH/NINES summer institute; the co-authors write that “Colleagues in all fields should have incentives and formal opportunities to pursue dialogue with other communities of scholars.” The second resource for evaluating digital work comes from a report produced by another NEH funded workshop, “Off the Tracks: Laying New Lines for Digital Humanities Scholars,” that partly addressed the new collaborative practices necessitated by the digital. Finally, Carolyn Guertin has also graciously pointed out that the Modern Language Association’s Committee on Information Technology has also been a leader in articulating appropriate T & P standards.
Furthermore, aside from substantially revised standards for tenure and promotion, the other crucial component to the production of meaningful interdisciplinary work is physical work-space and equipment appropriate for teaching and researching practice/theory-based work on media (analog as much as digital media). I would like to suggest that this future school could be very productively organized by research groups whose membership changes and fluctuates with the interests of the faculty and whose work, meetings, collaborations, experiments, and creations take place in labs.
In other words, coupled with a school that emphasizes methodologies based in theory-practice and collaboration is a materialist methodology that recognizes that scholarship/teaching can no longer take place purely in the realm of the mind – it requires understanding the material dimensions of any given medium or piece of technology. As I mentioned in my previous post, there are numerous labs across the country (such as the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities, the MIT Media Lab, the Critical Media Lab at University of Waterloo, the Digital Innovation Lab at University of North Carolina, or Stanford’s Program on Liberation Technology) who are pursuing on a small-scale just such a mission. However, CU Boulder is in a remarkable position to build the first school of its kind in the U.S. which is structured by numerous labs and research groups.
[D]igital scholarship is the inevitable future of the humanities and social sciences. . . . [D]igital literacy is a matter of national competitiveness and a mission that needs to be embraced by universities, libraries, museums, and archives. . . . How will younger scholars in the humanities and social sciences engage these new technologies and methods? . . . [I]f more than a few are to pioneer new digital pathways, more formal venues and opportunities for training and encouragement are needed. . . . A robust cyberinfrastructure should include centers that support collaborative work with specialized methods. (from “Our Cultural Commonwealth: The Report of the American Council of Learned Societies Commission on Cyberinfrastructure for the Humanities and Social Sciences,” 2006)
Through a long series of public and internal meetings, the University of Colorado at Boulder has recently started to think through the shape of a possible future school of Information, Communication, Media, Journalism, and Technology – an ungainly list of disciplines but one that gestures, I hope, to the possibility of a school that thoroughly supports interdisciplinary research and teaching. I also think this possible future school affords me the opportunity to think through what I would like to see happen – what would be my dream job? What sorts of research and teaching would I like to do that I cannot do now?
As one who writes, researches, and teaches between media studies, literary studies, history of computing, and artistic/literary practice, a future school or college dedicated to ICMJT would have to primarily support and stimulate 1) meaningful cross-disciplinary collaboration and 2) a flexible and emergent curriculum that is responsive to rapid shifts in education, technology, and even broader cultural values (regardless of the potential difficulties in creating a new administrative structure to accomodate such research and teaching). As Richard A. DeMillo asserts in From Apple to Abelard (MIT Press, 2011), “The institutions that will thrive in the coming century are the ones whose offerings are in demand in a world where there are abundant choices for higher education.”
And so, ideally, a future ICMJT school at CU Boulder would learn from small-scale successes – centers and labs across the U.S. such as the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities, the MIT Media Lab, the Critical Media Lab at University of Waterloo, the Digital Innovation Lab at University of North Carolina, or Stanford’s Program on Liberation Technology – and create a largescale school, I believe the first of its kind in North American, which would also include labs. I imagine this school as one that is structured not by departments but rather by overlapping conceptual groupings (perhaps akin to the units in the Leeds School of Business). Examples of such groupings might be Computer Arts, Communication, 21st Century Studies, and Media Studies (including studies of the book, analog technologies as well as digital technologies). Faculty could, but need not, align themselves (and their labs) with several conceptual groupings as a way to faciliate the kind of meaningful interdisciplinary work I mention above.
While the ICMJT discussion groups have been urged to avoid concerning ourselves with administrative structures, I would like to point out that, since CU Boulder is a Research I institution – one whose faculty research is foremost and which often drives teaching – in order for this new school to be a success, it will have to create new and innovative guidelines for tenure and promotion that reward rather than penalize 1) co-authored publications; 2) substantial digital-based scholarship (such as data visualizations, information retrieval, data mining, and computational analysis) in addition to conventional academic articles and monograph books; 3) innovations in publishing including electronic journals and e-books; 4) and finally, related to the foregoing three items, practice-based work in addition to theory-based work. I would like to place particular emphasis on the importance of practice-based research and teaching in this new school. l believe ‘doing’ media studies (whether one is studying the book, analog or digital technologies) is an essential component of understanding and then theorizing media – theory and practice ought to be equally valued for both research and teaching in this future ICMJT school. In other words, ‘doing’ and ‘creating’ are important not only for innovative research but also innovative (and effective) teaching and learning. As the technology journalist Anya Kemenetz writes, “Workers at every level benefit from an education that emphasizes creative thinking, communication, and teamwork – the very kind of excellence already offered at top American colleges.” With an appropriately innovative ICMJT school, CU Boulder, then, could be a in a position to become one of these “top American colleges.”
As such, I would like to advocate for a core curriculum that involves at least one year-long class that is dedicated to both theories and practices of media literacy (or, I might suggest, ‘fluency’ which implies a much higher level of sophistication and understanding). However, beyond a small handful of core courses, I would very much like to see a wide of range of courses dedicated to teaching or investigating what DeMillo calls “patterns of thought” that cut across numerous disciplines and that appeal to students’ desires to study cultural memes – especially in a way that cannot be captured by way of networks outside the classroom. I am convinced that DeMillo is right in observing that “universities that cling to principled but inflexible curricula are less likely to be able to survive the competitive onslaught that surely faces colleges and universities in the Middle.” Thus, one possible way to establish a flexible curriculum that affords students abundant choice is to develop, within each conceptual grouping, several streams from which students might choose their courses. A curricular stream in, for example, Computer Arts might involve a course first in media literacy followed by courses (possibly co-taught by faculty in the same or overlapping conceptual groupings) in digital art, music, literature, and communication – all of which would tackle the tight interdependence of theory and praxis from different disciplinary perspectives. Such a system has already been instituted by Georgia Tech’s College of Computing as they have created a “threaded curriculum” which allows students to choose any two threads to make a degree.
A prospective ICMJT school at CU Boulder affords us the opportunity to make ourselves into one of the most innovative, forward-thinking, and relevant institutions in the country that could very well attract not only top researchers but also top students who in turn, once they graduate, will surely be highly sought after by employers.
Recently I stumbled upon an odd but thrilling little publication from 1966 called Astronauts of Inner-Space: An International Collection of Avant-Garde Activity which includes – according to the front cover - 17 manifestoes, articles, letters, 28 poems and 1 filmscript. The collection is so astounding that I had to make a pdf of it – available here, if you’re interested. And why should you be interested? Because it documents a rare moment when media theorists such as Marshall McLuhan are not just influencing but are actively in dialogue with artists, painters, poets, filmmakers, from the avant-garde of the early 20th century to the mid-1960s.
Look at the table of contents and you’ll see that McLuhan’s piece, “Culture and Technology,” is nestled among contributions by pioneers of Dada such as Rauol Hausmann to pioneers of computer generated poetry Max Bense and Margaret Masterman; it’s also included along with essays and poems by “typescape” poets Franz Mon and Dom Sylvester Houedard, work by cut-up master William Burroughs, and even the more bookbound Robert Creeley.
In this single collection, we not only get a sense of McLuhan as engaged with poetics but we see the poets as writing thoroughly activist media poems. They are even activist in the sense that McLuhan was imagining when he wrote in his Astronauts of Inner-Space contribution that “…if politics is the art of the possible, its scope must now, in the electric age, include the shaping and programming of the entire sensory environment as a luminous work of art.” Politics as art and poetry; art and poetry as politics.