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M(A)LI – MAL Accessibility Initiative [codename “Mali”]
Transcript of M(A)LI – MAL Accessibility Initiative [codename “Mali”]
This project aims to increase the accessibility of hardware systems in the Media Archaeology Lab in order to better serve the needs of researchers, student tours, and individual student researchers
Problem: currently, the Media Archaeology Lab has encountered a problem -- the current location (1320 Grandview) is becoming full and cannot both store and display all of the systems as might be ideal
Solution: the MAL should begin implementing a more active curatorial vision in the physical space
The MAL is taking active steps in the
improve the aesthetic in the physical space
increase accessibility to each system for new users with the new 'Protip cards.'
Remove less accessible systems from display, while rotating in more accessible recent acquisitions
Increase user access to tools, equipment, and cables in the lab.
Remove from rotating display
NeXT Station (disk error--non 'traditionally' functional)
Franklin ACE (heating problem)
Large Mitsubishi television connected to Commodore VIC-20 (overly large, can be substituted with consistently sized and era appropriate Commodore monitor)
Atari 800 (runs the same content as the Atari 400; this space could better serve the lab's needs)
Why does this problem exist?
The researcher found that the items on display successfully recreate a linear history in the MAL. Sometimes, a linear history is easier to facilitate during tours to researchers and to classes, though this is not necessarily the most appropriate approach.
One solution to this problem is identifying 'redundancies,' and substituting more novel systems in lab curation. Moreover, with a lack of space in the facility, it is vital to use the space to best serve the needs of all who use the facility.
And More Clutter...
All six systems here are now completely accessible by seat
Improving Individual System Access for New Users
By giving creating MAL Protip Reference Cards (MAL PRC) that are considered 'tips,' the curators are not actively influencing the use of the devices in the lab. Rather, the tips simply suggest how a user might turn on the machine, run a piece of software, and interact with the machine if so inclined.
Sample 'MAL Protip Reference Card'
How will the project continue to evolve after the demo?
MAL Protip Reference Cards for all 45 systems in the lab
Clearing the side-room, improving labeling of equipment to aid researchers hoping to work with off-display systems
Improving the flow of the display rotation process
Continued active curatorial vision in conscious of current space limitations
Continual improvement of access and instructions for new individuals-MAL staff rotates with some frequency
Wishlist for the MAL and planning for the future
Bookcase for the rear room
Bookcases would house additional printed matter and legacy media-currently there is no additional space to store new acquisitions
Shelving for the rear room gaming consoles
Additional shelving would allow for a centralized storage area for all video game consoles connected to the television
Could be used to store video game cartridges-this collection is growing rapidly and will likely continue to do so
Comments and suggestions are very welcome!
I have created 45 of these cards for the workstations. The cards take a minimalist approach to addressing the instant needs of researchers in the facility. Although this may not seem significant, the cards have taken me many hours to make. I have carefully researched each system and tested the software demonstration on each to be sure the descriptions are accurate. This took at least 14 hours. Moreover, adding each fact and the basic "powering on" instructions has taken at least an additional 10 hours (given the 45 systems, and their oftentimes slow speeds). On top of the card layout, design, and printing, I have realized the true difficulty of this process. Moreover, engaging in this process has shown me how much care similar projects at other institutions take.
What I have done (and learned the hard way)