The Electronic Literature Lab is the site where the research for Pathfinders: Documenting the Experience of Early Digital Literature is taking place. The project extends the notion of digital preservation by developing a method that captures not just the content of a work of electronic literature but also attempts to recreate the experience readers had when they encountered the work at the time of its publication. We have selected four artists at this stage of our research: Stuart Moulthrop, John McDaid, Judy Malloy, and Shelley Jackson. Each author is asked to come to ELL and, using the vintage Mac on which the work had been originally been read, the artist is videotaped reading through his or her work using talk aloud protocol in a process we refer to as a “traversal.” On the following day, two readers unfamiliar with the work are also captured on video interacting with it. All of this material will be collected for a multimedia book environment made free to the public and available to databases in the U.S. and beyond.
The first traversal featuring Stuart Moulthrop and his hypertext novel Victory Garden (that took place in June) required one of my Mac Classics. We also used Apple iChat video technology to project him traversing the work on screen for the audience in the room.
For this second traversal, however, we are rigging up a vintage Kodak Datashow projector to a Mac SE. To this end, Jeff Grisso, a former CMDC student who helps me out by fixing and maintaining my computers in the lab, spent the morning updating the logic board so that the computer would talk to the projector. All went well, save the fact that we still need a 9-pin or DV 15 gender adaptor to make the system work. If you have one of these adaptors laying around that you do not want anymore, please send it on.
Those of you who know Macs know that when we opened up the SE to update it, we were able to see the engraved signatures of all of the folks who created the computer. Among them, of course, was Woz and Andy. Check it out.