I post here a short abstract of my final practice-based project, entitled “[DELETE]: A Media Archaeology of WordStar and the Osborne’s User-Friendly Ideology.”
In this paper, I focus on the Osborne 1 and its bundled WordStar word-processing program while also accounting for its user manuals. More specifically, I emphasize the role of the delete function as a site where interface design, hardware, and software intersect to disturb the ideology of the user-friendly as endorsed by the user manuals. At the end of this essay, I offer a postscript in which I point to the brief historical moment when the Osborne users tapped Lee Felsenstein’s philosophy of open user access to the machine, as evidenced by his affiliation with both Community Memory and the People’s Computer Company; in the tradition of Felsenstein’s mission, the Osborne users transform the Osborne 1 into a toy rather than a tool.
This paper draws on my semester-long work in the Media Archaeology Lab (MAL) wherein I interrogated the ideology of the user-friendly and its relationship to word-processing technology; see my previous posts for a trajectory of my ideas. Moreover, I admit that my paper is heavily theoretical as it incorporates a range of media and media-archaeological theorists such as Siegfried Zielinski (particularly his praxis of variantology), Friedrich Kittler, Lori Emerson, and Matthew Fuller, as well as Michel Foucault’s notions of archaeology and biopower. However, I attempt to historicize my approach by examining source material (i.e. InfoWorld articles and the newsletters of the People’s Computer Company).
To learn more, feel free to peruse my essay!