As I think through alternative ways of understanding archival order, and the ways in which the lab systems are organized, I decided to organize some photos chronologically. In the photo below I have arranged images of Apple desktop keyboards, specifically focusing on the placement (or lack thereof) of the arrow keys. In descending order, we have the Apple II, the Apple III, Apple IIe, Apple Lisa, Apple IIc, Apple Macintosh 512, Apple Mac Classic II, Apple Macintosh Centris 610, Aple iMac G3, Apple eMac, Apple iMac G4. These systems are arranged chronologically from the earlier (1977) to the most recent (2002). But is there really any sense of order apparent in these photos? What would Zielinski say? Certainly, it seems that to create any meaning in this ordered list, we would have to construct a narrative around this already organized list. But does that mean that a linear chronology is best for an archive? How about an archive of digital content?
The first photo contains only left and right arrows. The second contains ‘all four,’ but in a horizontal alignment. The third contains four, but arranged in a strange ‘L’ shape. The fourth a modified ‘L’ shape. The fifth, a reversion to the horizontal. The six, NONE AT ALL!. Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera… What does this all tell us? Very little. In fact, the layouts are representative of navigation, of interface. Maybe these systems should be organized based on their operating system? Do they have a GUI? Do they operate through a command line? These seem to be questions that help to define better categories in the archive.
I don’t have a single clear vision for ‘the one best way’ that the systems in the Media Archaeology Lab should be arranged. But I do understand that the lab is not currently using a better method. I am certainly open to suggestions on how a more ‘user friendly’ layout of computers in the lab might better help us as students and researchers as we’re using these systems.
This photo shows the keyboard progression I note.