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Important, please read -- RE: exhibit planning

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  • Evan Koblentz
    Contrary to Bryan s advice, I am sending another late-night (early-morning?) reply... ... ringed with computers and no story to tie it all together. Such an
    Message 1 of 6 , Jun 29, 2008
      Message
      Contrary to Bryan's advice, I am sending another late-night (early-morning?) reply...
       
      >>> heading to the lame type of exhibit that I have always feared: a room ringed with computers and no story to tie it all together. Such an exhibit might be interesting to people like us who already know (or think we know) the history of the computer industry but will bore the typical visitor who will decide that "there was nothing to see" and never come back. Our museum should tell a story with the individual pieces of the story changing over time
       
      Jim's concerns are extremely important.  I agree that nobody wants a room full of computers and nothing else.
       
      But, I think we should err on the side of "more" rather than fewer artifacts per exhibit.
       
      Anyone who is artistic or design-oriented would disagree.  And I would agree with the disagree-ers, if our museum were a professional entity.  But I think we should embrace, not fear, our grassroots status.  For example, in the micros exhibit, then we should be as inclusive as possible, as long as it's not fluffy, i.e. not packed with less important systems like 14 different varieties of Mac, the Commodore Plus 4, and all the other secondary versions of common systems.  Looking at our list of 30 (or whatever), I think we are succeeding at avoiding those.  And I think that most micros can be displayed just fine in a few feet of table space.  We don't need a boatload of "white space" and fancy-schmancy exhibits.  This exhibit should have one of all the systems that our mainstream visitors would expect to see and simple posters explaining why each one is important.  I think THAT will impress our public visitors.  The story to tie it all together is that we'll remind (or teach for those who never knew) about the amazing variety of micros from the pre-modern era.  So in summary, I just want to assure everyone that an exhibit with large quantity does not necessarily lead to poor quality.  We're not trying to tell the history of the industry (I agree that would bore most people); we're telling the history of their own experiences or the experiences of their parents.  However this gives me an idea: I'm going to make a new poster template for which we fill in details like the make, model, year, etc., but most important there will be a "Significance" section.
       
      >>> you want to tell the story of the development of the microcomputer industry
       
      Not really.  For now, we only want to show "what was".  Someday when we get space in the much larger H-buildings, then we can try telling bigger stories like that.  But for now we should start with the K.I.S.S. method.
       
      >>> Is this a generation issue?
       
      No.  (But this is a good spot to remind people of a long-ago suggestion -- we can reserve some exhibit space for MARCHins' individual ideas.  For example, Jim, suppose you really want to tell a thorough story about the importance and meaning of the Xerox 860.  We can make a whole exhibit about that.  This section and also the "Best of the Rest of MARCH" exhibit are the ideal places to rotate artifacts in and out.
       
      >>> each exhibit of a machine should _thoroughly_ explain why a particular machine is significant. What did it do first or better? How did is earn it's place in history? Telling the story of each machine will require a significant investment in signage - big signs that people can read while standing a few feet from the machine. Such signs, plus the space to display related software, manuals, accessories, etc. will require at least double the space Evan calculated. IOW, on a realistic basis, the large room can support less than half of the machines you have been discussing
       
      I firmly disagree.  There is no reason our exhibits and signage can't be concise but still compelling.  As explained above, I have no interest in huge signs to impress museum professionals and graphic artists.  Instead let's be practical.  Cover all the bases of important artifacts, be efficient, get the message across, move on.
       
      >>> It's better to do a few exhibits _WELL_ than to just show a bunch of hardware on shelves.
       
      Somewhere in the middle.
       
      >>> Anybody can plop machines on a table and call it a museum.
       
      Nobody said we're doing that.  We're talking about specific machines, chosen democratically and for good reasons, with an abundance of useful signs, all to fit a theme.  Similarly, as everyone here knows, when we explain VCF exhibits to newbies, we always tell them "DO have a solid theme; DON'T just plop all your shit on a table and call it an exhibit."  So I think of the micros exhibit as just a very large VCF-style exhibit -- the theme is "The most significant 70s/80s micros and why".
       
      I do concede that 30 may be a bit much  :)  but < sarcasm on> I also have no intention of wasting a big chunk of exhibit space on 4 computers and flowers and pastels </sarcasm off>.
       
      Heading an issue off before it starts: if anyone's getting wound up because of that iota of sarcasm, then stop.
       
      Friendly reminder to everyone including myself: we are supposed to be a fun and neighborhood computer club.  Granted our neighborhood is a few states.  But let's NOT take ourselves too seriously.  In the fall of 2004, all Andy and I wanted to do is find other people in the area who thought vintage computers were cool.  My vote is to stay true to the original idea.  Hopefully we are not being clique-y about it (I don't think so, based on how hard we try to get people involved).  The museum is just a place where we can share our fun with the public.  Hopefully we'll entertain, educate, and/or inspire some people along the way.
       
       
       
       
      -----Original Message-----
      From: Jim Scheef [mailto:jscheef@...]
      Sent: Thursday, June 26, 2008 11:26 PM
      To: MARCH
      Subject: [midatlanticretro] Exhibit planning

      Hello all,

      All this talk about which computers are "important" is heading to the lame type of exhibit that I have always feared: a room ringed with computers and no story to tie it all together. Such an exhibit might be interesting to people like us who already know (or think we know) the history of the computer industry but will bore the typical visitor who will decide that "there was nothing to see" and never come back. Our museum should tell a story with the individual pieces of the story changing over time. That way people can learn something new each time they come.

      I think we are doing this entirely backward. The first step should be to decide what story we want to tell, then select exhibits to illustrate that story. If you want to tell the story of the development of the microcomputer industry, the story needs to talk as much about the people as it does about the machines.

      Herb Johnson and Jack Rubin both alluded to this in their messages on Tuesday. Is this a generation issue?

      Even if this part of the museum is to be about the artifacts rather than about the story of the microcomputer, the industry, the people or something else, each exhibit of a machine should _thoroughly_ explain why a particular machine is significant. What did it do first or better? How did is earn it's place in history? Telling the story of each machine will require a significant investment in signage - big signs that people can read while standing a few feet from the machine. Such signs, plus the space to display related software, manuals, accessories, etc. will require at least double the space Evan calculated. IOW, on a realistic basis, the large room can support less than half of the machines you have been discussing.

      This is OK. It's better to do a few exhibits _WELL_ than to just show a bunch of hardware on shelves. Anybody can plop machines on a table and call it a museum. Herb has shown that we can do better.

      Jim
    • B. Degnan
      Evan, I don t take offence per se, but clearly your references below in part pertain to my desire to take esthetics into account for the MARCH museum. I did
      Message 2 of 6 , Jun 29, 2008
        Evan,

        I don't take offence per se, but clearly your references below in part pertain to my desire to take esthetics into account for the MARCH museum.  I did not really expect that all my layout "white space" ideas would be implemented, so I am not troubled and we move forward.  I will put that kind of energy into my own exhibit at VCF, and subsequent use at the U of D for class.  I plan to make a simple exhibit for the IBM PC I restored, and I believe it will be just fine as an InfoAge exhibit.  Please send me the new template you plan to make so I can get that done asap.

        Just note that there is a strong desire among a subset of this group for a more technical approach, a place for the history of technological exploration, proper storage of items, and because many believe to truly understand this kind of history you must understand how to use it.   The "hackers" component.  To them the "historians" are trying to hijack and write the "history" books without understanding things beyond WHO did what.  HOW they did it IS important.  With your writing talent to assist we CAN accomplish this by telling the story, including technical references.  You have a pool of talented engineers here to draw upon.  If this museum is going to be more than just a catalog of the "top 30 systems of all time" we should encourage exhibits like Herb's, pitch in, and give the appropriate space for it.  We should have at least one really good technologically advanced, detailed "story" exhibit with adequate space for those of us who will appreciate it.


        Bill

        At 03:15 AM 6/29/2008 -0400, you wrote:
        Contrary to Bryan's advice, I am sending another late-night (early-morning?) reply...
         
        >>> heading to the lame type of exhibit that I have always feared: a room ringed with computers and no story to tie it all together. Such an exhibit might be interesting to people like us who already know (or think we know) the history of the computer industry but will bore the typical visitor who will decide that "there was nothing to see" and never come back. Our museum should tell a story with the individual pieces of the story changing over time
         
        Jim's concerns are extremely important.  I agree that nobody wants a room full of computers and nothing else.
         
        But, I think we should err on the side of "more" rather than fewer artifacts per exhibit.
         
        Anyone who is artistic or design-oriented would disagree.  And I would agree with the disagree-ers, if our museum were a professional entity.  But I think we should embrace, not fear, our grassroots status.  For example, in the micros exhibit, then we should be as inclusive as possible, as long as it's not fluffy, i.e. not packed with less important systems like 14 different varieties of Mac, the Commodore Plus 4, and all the other secondary versions of common systems.  Looking at our list of 30 (or whatever), I think we are succeeding at avoiding those.  And I think that most micros can be displayed just fine in a few feet of table space.  We don't need a boatload of "white space" and fancy-schmancy exhibits.  This exhibit should have one of all the systems that our mainstream visitors would expect to see and simple posters explaining why each one is important.  I think THAT will impress our public visitors.  The story to tie it all together is that we'll remind (or teach for those who never knew) about the amazing variety of micros from the pre-modern era.  So in summary, I just want to assure everyone that an exhibit with large quantity does not necessarily lead to poor quality.  We're not trying to tell the history of the industry (I agree that would bore most people); we're telling the history of their own experiences or the experiences of their parents.  However this gives me an idea: I'm going to make a new poster template for which we fill in details like the make, model, year, etc., but most important there will be a "Significance" section.
         
        >>> you want to tell the story of the development of the microcomputer industry
         
        Not really.  For now, we only want to show "what was".  Someday when we get space in the much larger H-buildings, then we can try telling bigger stories like that.  But for now we should start with the K.I.S.S. method.
         
        >>> Is this a generation issue?
         
        No.  (But this is a good spot to remind people of a long-ago suggestion -- we can reserve some exhibit space for MARCHins' individual ideas.  For example, Jim, suppose you really want to tell a thorough story about the importance and meaning of the Xerox 860.  We can make a whole exhibit about that.  This section and also the "Best of the Rest of MARCH" exhibit are the ideal places to rotate artifacts in and out.
         
        >>> each exhibit of a machine should _thoroughly_ explain why a particular machine is significant. What did it do first or better? How did is earn it's place in history? Telling the story of each machine will require a significant investment in signage - big signs that people can read while standing a few feet from the machine. Such signs, plus the space to display related software, manuals, accessories, etc. will require at least double the space Evan calculated. IOW, on a realistic basis, the large room can support less than half of the machines you have been discussing
         
        I firmly disagree.  There is no reason our exhibits and signage can't be concise but still compelling.  As explained above, I have no interest in huge signs to impress museum professionals and graphic artists.  Instead let's be practical.  Cover all the bases of important artifacts, be efficient, get the message across, move on.
         
        >>> It's better to do a few exhibits _WELL_ than to just show a bunch of hardware on shelves.
         
        Somewhere in the middle.
         
        >>> Anybody can plop machines on a table and call it a museum.
         
        Nobody said we're doing that.  We're talking about specific machines, chosen democratically and for good reasons, with an abundance of useful signs, all to fit a theme.  Similarly, as everyone here knows, when we explain VCF exhibits to newbies, we always tell them "DO have a solid theme; DON'T just plop all your shit on a table and call it an exhibit."  So I think of the micros exhibit as just a very large VCF-style exhibit -- the theme is "The most significant 70s/80s micros and why".
         
        I do concede that 30 may be a bit much  :)  but < sarcasm on> I also have no intention of wasting a big chunk of exhibit space on 4 computers and flowers and pastels </sarcasm off>.
         
        Heading an issue off before it starts: if anyone's getting wound up because of that iota of sarcasm, then stop.
         
        Friendly reminder to everyone including myself: we are supposed to be a fun and neighborhood computer club.  Granted our neighborhood is a few states.  But let's NOT take ourselves too seriously.  In the fall of 2004, all Andy and I wanted to do is find other people in the area who thought vintage computers were cool.  My vote is to stay true to the original idea.  Hopefully we are not being clique-y about it (I don't think so, based on how hard we try to get people involved).  The museum is just a place where we can share our fun with the public.  Hopefully we'll entertain, educate, and/or inspire some people along the way.
         
         
         
         
        -----Original Message-----
        From: Jim Scheef [mailto:jscheef@...]
        Sent: Thursday, June 26, 2008 11:26 PM
        To: MARCH
        Subject: [midatlanticretro] Exhibit planning

        Hello all,

        All this talk about which computers are "important" is heading to the lame type of exhibit that I have always feared: a room ringed with computers and no story to tie it all together. Such an exhibit might be interesting to people like us who already know (or think we know) the history of the computer industry but will bore the typical visitor who will decide that "there was nothing to see" and never come back. Our museum should tell a story with the individual pieces of the story changing over time. That way people can learn something new each time they come.

        I think we are doing this entirely backward. The first step should be to decide what story we want to tell, then select exhibits to illustrate that story. If you want to tell the story of the development of the microcomputer industry, the story needs to talk as much about the people as it does about the machines.

        Herb Johnson and Jack Rubin both alluded to this in their messages on Tuesday. Is this a generation issue?

        Even if this part of the museum is to be about the artifacts rather than about the story of the microcomputer, the industry, the people or something else, each exhibit of a machine should _thoroughly_ explain why a particular machine is significant. What did it do first or better? How did is earn it's place in history? Telling the story of each machine will require a significant investment in signage - big signs that people can read while standing a few feet from the machine. Such signs, plus the space to display related software, manuals, accessories, etc. will require at least double the space Evan calculated. IOW, on a realistic basis, the large room can support less than half of the machines you have been discussing.

        This is OK. It's better to do a few exhibits _WELL_ than to just show a bunch of hardware on shelves. Anybody can plop machines on a table and call it a museum. Herb has shown that we can do better.

        Jim

      • Evan Koblentz
        ... a more technical approach, a place for the history of technological exploration, proper storage of items, and because many believe to truly understand this
        Message 3 of 6 , Jun 29, 2008
          Message
          >>> Just note that there is a strong desire among a subset of this group for a more technical approach, a place for the history of technological exploration, proper storage of items, and because many believe to truly understand this kind of history you must understand how to use it.   The "hackers" component.  To them the "historians" are trying to hijack and write the "history" books without understanding things beyond WHO did what.  HOW they did it IS important. 
           
          Yes, I agree.  My comments were mostly about THIS exhibit.  Also, something else I think is important: I'm sorry if I gave anyone the impression that we'd have
          "all 30" (or whatever) of these micros arranged in nothing but square rows of tables.  I definitely think it's important to arrange them in smaller categories, not just in one long line.
           
          >>> we should encourage exhibits like Herb's, pitch in, and give the appropriate space for it.  We should have at least one really good technologically advanced, detailed "story" exhibit with adequate space for those of us who will appreciate it.
           
          Yes, agreed.

           
          -----Original Message-----
          From: B. Degnan [mailto:billdeg@...]
          Sent: Sunday, June 29, 2008 9:19 AM
          To: midatlanticretro@yahoogroups.com
          Subject: Re: [midatlanticretro] Important, please read -- RE: exhibit planning

          Evan,

          I don't take offence per se, but clearly your references below in part pertain to my desire to take esthetics into account for the MARCH museum.  I did not really expect that all my layout "white space" ideas would be implemented, so I am not troubled and we move forward.  I will put that kind of energy into my own exhibit at VCF, and subsequent use at the U of D for class.  I plan to make a simple exhibit for the IBM PC I restored, and I believe it will be just fine as an InfoAge exhibit.  Please send me the new template you plan to make so I can get that done asap.

          Just note that there is a strong desire among a subset of this group for a more technical approach, a place for the history of technological exploration, proper storage of items, and because many believe to truly understand this kind of history you must understand how to use it.   The "hackers" component.  To them the "historians" are trying to hijack and write the "history" books without understanding things beyond WHO did what.  HOW they did it IS important.  With your writing talent to assist we CAN accomplish this by telling the story, including technical references.  You have a pool of talented engineers here to draw upon.  If this museum is going to be more than just a catalog of the "top 30 systems of all time" we should encourage exhibits like Herb's, pitch in, and give the appropriate space for it.  We should have at least one really good technologically advanced, detailed "story" exhibit with adequate space for those of us who will appreciate it.


          Bill

          At 03:15 AM 6/29/2008 -0400, you wrote:
          Contrary to Bryan's advice, I am sending another late-night (early-morning?) reply...
           
          >>> heading to the lame type of exhibit that I have always feared: a room ringed with computers and no story to tie it all together. Such an exhibit might be interesting to people like us who already know (or think we know) the history of the computer industry but will bore the typical visitor who will decide that "there was nothing to see" and never come back. Our museum should tell a story with the individual pieces of the story changing over time
           
          Jim's concerns are extremely important.  I agree that nobody wants a room full of computers and nothing else.
           
          But, I think we should err on the side of "more" rather than fewer artifacts per exhibit.
           
          Anyone who is artistic or design-oriented would disagree.  And I would agree with the disagree-ers, if our museum were a professional entity.  But I think we should embrace, not fear, our grassroots status.  For example, in the micros exhibit, then we should be as inclusive as possible, as long as it's not fluffy, i.e. not packed with less important systems like 14 different varieties of Mac, the Commodore Plus 4, and all the other secondary versions of common systems.  Looking at our list of 30 (or whatever), I think we are succeeding at avoiding those.  And I think that most micros can be displayed just fine in a few feet of table space.  We don't need a boatload of "white space" and fancy-schmancy exhibits.  This exhibit should have one of all the systems that our mainstream visitors would expect to see and simple posters explaining why each one is important.  I think THAT will impress our public visitors.  The story to tie it all together is that we'll remind (or teach for those who never knew) about the amazing variety of micros from the pre-modern era.  So in summary, I just want to assure everyone that an exhibit with large quantity does not necessarily lead to poor quality.  We're not trying to tell the history of the industry (I agree that would bore most people); we're telling the history of their own experiences or the experiences of their parents.  However this gives me an idea: I'm going to make a new poster template for which we fill in details like the make, model, year, etc., but most important there will be a "Significance" section.
           
          >>> you want to tell the story of the development of the microcomputer industry
           
          Not really.  For now, we only want to show "what was".  Someday when we get space in the much larger H-buildings, then we can try telling bigger stories like that.  But for now we should start with the K.I.S.S. method.
           
          >>> Is this a generation issue?
           
          No.  (But this is a good spot to remind people of a long-ago suggestion -- we can reserve some exhibit space for MARCHins' individual ideas.  For example, Jim, suppose you really want to tell a thorough story about the importance and meaning of the Xerox 860.  We can make a whole exhibit about that.  This section and also the "Best of the Rest of MARCH" exhibit are the ideal places to rotate artifacts in and out.
           
          >>> each exhibit of a machine should _thoroughly_ explain why a particular machine is significant. What did it do first or better? How did is earn it's place in history? Telling the story of each machine will require a significant investment in signage - big signs that people can read while standing a few feet from the machine. Such signs, plus the space to display related software, manuals, accessories, etc. will require at least double the space Evan calculated. IOW, on a realistic basis, the large room can support less than half of the machines you have been discussing
           
          I firmly disagree.  There is no reason our exhibits and signage can't be concise but still compelling.  As explained above, I have no interest in huge signs to impress museum professionals and graphic artists.  Instead let's be practical.  Cover all the bases of important artifacts, be efficient, get the message across, move on.
           
          >>> It's better to do a few exhibits _WELL_ than to just show a bunch of hardware on shelves.
           
          Somewhere in the middle.
           
          >>> Anybody can plop machines on a table and call it a museum.
           
          Nobody said we're doing that.  We're talking about specific machines, chosen democratically and for good reasons, with an abundance of useful signs, all to fit a theme.  Similarly, as everyone here knows, when we explain VCF exhibits to newbies, we always tell them "DO have a solid theme; DON'T just plop all your shit on a table and call it an exhibit."  So I think of the micros exhibit as just a very large VCF-style exhibit -- the theme is "The most significant 70s/80s micros and why".
           
          I do concede that 30 may be a bit much  :)  but < sarcasm on> I also have no intention of wasting a big chunk of exhibit space on 4 computers and flowers and pastels </sarcasm off>.
           
          Heading an issue off before it starts: if anyone's getting wound up because of that iota of sarcasm, then stop.
           
          Friendly reminder to everyone including myself: we are supposed to be a fun and neighborhood computer club.  Granted our neighborhood is a few states.  But let's NOT take ourselves too seriously.  In the fall of 2004, all Andy and I wanted to do is find other people in the area who thought vintage computers were cool.  My vote is to stay true to the original idea.  Hopefully we are not being clique-y about it (I don't think so, based on how hard we try to get people involved).  The museum is just a place where we can share our fun with the public.  Hopefully we'll entertain, educate, and/or inspire some people along the way.
           
           
           
           
          -----Original Message-----
          From: Jim Scheef [mailto:jscheef@...]
          Sent: Thursday, June 26, 2008 11:26 PM
          To: MARCH
          Subject: [midatlanticretro] Exhibit planning

          Hello all,

          All this talk about which computers are "important" is heading to the lame type of exhibit that I have always feared: a room ringed with computers and no story to tie it all together. Such an exhibit might be interesting to people like us who already know (or think we know) the history of the computer industry but will bore the typical visitor who will decide that "there was nothing to see" and never come back. Our museum should tell a story with the individual pieces of the story changing over time. That way people can learn something new each time they come.

          I think we are doing this entirely backward. The first step should be to decide what story we want to tell, then select exhibits to illustrate that story. If you want to tell the story of the development of the microcomputer industry, the story needs to talk as much about the people as it does about the machines.

          Herb Johnson and Jack Rubin both alluded to this in their messages on Tuesday. Is this a generation issue?

          Even if this part of the museum is to be about the artifacts rather than about the story of the microcomputer, the industry, the people or something else, each exhibit of a machine should _thoroughly_ explain why a particular machine is significant. What did it do first or better? How did is earn it's place in history? Telling the story of each machine will require a significant investment in signage - big signs that people can read while standing a few feet from the machine. Such signs, plus the space to display related software, manuals, accessories, etc. will require at least double the space Evan calculated. IOW, on a realistic basis, the large room can support less than half of the machines you have been discussing.

          This is OK. It's better to do a few exhibits _WELL_ than to just show a bunch of hardware on shelves. Anybody can plop machines on a table and call it a museum. Herb has shown that we can do better.

          Jim

        • john_apw
          Periodically I get to sit down and read through 3 or 4 months of MARCH digests. This weekend I tried to catch up, and almost made it. I rarely post because I
          Message 4 of 6 , Jun 30, 2008
            Periodically I get to sit down and read through 3 or 4 months of
            MARCH digests. This weekend I tried to catch up, and almost made it.
            I rarely post because I can't keep up with the responses in the
            digest in a timely manner, and because I hardly have anything useful
            to contribute.

            But in this thread, I see that there are diverse points of view that
            are trying to be expressed, and perhaps, with my background in
            technical writing, I may be of some assistance.

            Might I suggest a 3-level approach to display information?

            The first level is very low, like assembler: Create a display board
            that describes just the unit. Give such details as the date of
            introduction (a rough date would be OK), the CPU type, the clock
            speed, the size of RAM, the I/O interfaces, etc. I like seeing the
            initial MSRP that the unit sold for, or peripherals/options that were
            offered. Perhaps a sentence or two about significant features of this
            machine, but nothing really detailed.

            This one display board would stay with the machine. Whenever you put
            machines out for viewing, the machine's basic data would be right
            there. This display board would be the machine's "Tech Detail" board
            or "Basic Facts" board (or whatever you'd want to call it).

            Standardizing the basic information would enable visitors to quickly
            and easily compare details, maybe even ask WHY about the differences.


            The second level would be at a "higher level". This would be
            information about that machine, but it would be presented in context
            of a particualr "theme". It would be more of the history and
            significance of that machine IN THAT STORY LINE.

            Therefore, each machine would have aditional display boards, "Theme"
            boards, for each storyline that it fits into.


            The third level would be the display boards and banners that would
            present the overall "story line" appropriate for that particular
            display.

            MARCH could develop an inventory of "themes" on a handful of story
            lines that you love to tell.

            Whenever you set up a display, you'd set up the overall theme boards
            for the whole story line, then for each machine, it's own "Theme"
            and "Basics" boards.


            Some school or group wants a temporary exhibit? Would take little
            thought to pick a storyline appropriate for them, grab the overall
            boards for that theme, then pick the machines, take each machine's
            corresponding Theme board, and its "Basics" board. Instant road show!

            This would give MARCH an inventory of stories, and bring coherence
            into a unified display.

            Has nothing to do with graphics and flowers. Just good organization
            and forethought.


            Contact me offline for further discussion, as I may not be reading
            digests again for a few weeks... (No, this is not "hit and run"; I
            really have a business to run, and my involvement with MARCH unfairly
            gets lower priority.)

            -John M.
            Montclair, NJ



            --- In midatlanticretro@yahoogroups.com, "Evan Koblentz" <evan@...>
            wrote:
            >
            > Contrary to Bryan's advice, I am sending another late-night (early-
            morning?)
            > reply...
            >
            > >>> heading to the lame type of exhibit that I have always feared:
            a room
            > ringed with computers and no story to tie it all together. Such an
            exhibit
            > might be interesting to people like us who already know (or think
            we know)
            > the history of the computer industry but will bore the typical
            visitor who
            > will decide that "there was nothing to see" and never come back.
            Our museum
            > should tell a story with the individual pieces of the story
            changing over
            > time
            >
            > Jim's concerns are extremely important. I agree that nobody wants
            a room
            > full of computers and nothing else.
            >
            > But, I think we should err on the side of "more" rather than fewer
            artifacts
            > per exhibit.
            >
            > Anyone who is artistic or design-oriented would disagree. And I
            would agree
            > with the disagree-ers, if our museum were a professional entity.
            But I
            > think we should embrace, not fear, our grassroots status. For
            example, in
            > the micros exhibit, then we should be as inclusive as possible, as
            long as
            > it's not fluffy, i.e. not packed with less important systems like 14
            > different varieties of Mac, the Commodore Plus 4, and all the other
            > secondary versions of common systems. Looking at our list of 30 (or
            > whatever), I think we are succeeding at avoiding those. And I
            think that
            > most micros can be displayed just fine in a few feet of table
            space. We
            > don't need a boatload of "white space" and fancy-schmancy
            exhibits. This
            > exhibit should have one of all the systems that our mainstream
            visitors
            > would expect to see and simple posters explaining why each one is
            important.
            > I think THAT will impress our public visitors. The story to tie it
            all
            > together is that we'll remind (or teach for those who never knew)
            about the
            > amazing variety of micros from the pre-modern era. So in summary,
            I just
            > want to assure everyone that an exhibit with large quantity does not
            > necessarily lead to poor quality. We're not trying to tell the
            history of
            > the industry (I agree that would bore most people); we're telling
            the
            > history of their own experiences or the experiences of their
            parents.
            > However this gives me an idea: I'm going to make a new poster
            template for
            > which we fill in details like the make, model, year, etc., but most
            > important there will be a "Significance" section.
            >
            > >>> you want to tell the story of the development of the
            microcomputer
            > industry
            >
            > Not really. For now, we only want to show "what was". Someday
            when we get
            > space in the much larger H-buildings, then we can try telling
            bigger stories
            > like that. But for now we should start with the K.I.S.S. method.
            >
            > >>> Is this a generation issue?
            >
            > No. (But this is a good spot to remind people of a long-ago
            suggestion --
            > we can reserve some exhibit space for MARCHins' individual ideas.
            For
            > example, Jim, suppose you really want to tell a thorough story
            about the
            > importance and meaning of the Xerox 860. We can make a whole
            exhibit about
            > that. This section and also the "Best of the Rest of MARCH"
            exhibit are the
            > ideal places to rotate artifacts in and out.
            >
            > >>> each exhibit of a machine should _thoroughly_ explain why a
            particular
            > machine is significant. What did it do first or better? How did is
            earn it's
            > place in history? Telling the story of each machine will require a
            > significant investment in signage - big signs that people can read
            while
            > standing a few feet from the machine. Such signs, plus the space to
            display
            > related software, manuals, accessories, etc. will require at least
            double
            > the space Evan calculated. IOW, on a realistic basis, the large
            room can
            > support less than half of the machines you have been discussing
            >
            > I firmly disagree. There is no reason our exhibits and signage
            can't be
            > concise but still compelling. As explained above, I have no
            interest in
            > huge signs to impress museum professionals and graphic artists.
            Instead
            > let's be practical. Cover all the bases of important artifacts, be
            > efficient, get the message across, move on.
            >
            > >>> It's better to do a few exhibits _WELL_ than to just show a
            bunch of
            > hardware on shelves.
            >
            > Somewhere in the middle.
            >
            > >>> Anybody can plop machines on a table and call it a museum.
            >
            > Nobody said we're doing that. We're talking about specific
            machines, chosen
            > democratically and for good reasons, with an abundance of useful
            signs, all
            > to fit a theme. Similarly, as everyone here knows, when we explain
            VCF
            > exhibits to newbies, we always tell them "DO have a solid theme;
            DON'T just
            > plop all your shit on a table and call it an exhibit." So I think
            of the
            > micros exhibit as just a very large VCF-style exhibit -- the theme
            is "The
            > most significant 70s/80s micros and why".
            >
            > I do concede that 30 may be a bit much :) but < sarcasm on> I
            also have no
            > intention of wasting a big chunk of exhibit space on 4 computers
            and flowers
            > and pastels </sarcasm off>.
            >
            > Heading an issue off before it starts: if anyone's getting wound up
            because
            > of that iota of sarcasm, then stop.
            >
            > Friendly reminder to everyone including myself: we are supposed to
            be a fun
            > and neighborhood computer club. Granted our neighborhood is a few
            states.
            > But let's NOT take ourselves too seriously. In the fall of 2004,
            all Andy
            > and I wanted to do is find other people in the area who thought
            vintage
            > computers were cool. My vote is to stay true to the original idea.
            > Hopefully we are not being clique-y about it (I don't think so,
            based on how
            > hard we try to get people involved). The museum is just a place
            where we
            > can share our fun with the public. Hopefully we'll entertain,
            educate,
            > and/or inspire some people along the way.
            >
            >
            >
            >
            >
            > -----Original Message-----
            > From: Jim Scheef [mailto:jscheef@...]
            > Sent: Thursday, June 26, 2008 11:26 PM
            > To: MARCH
            > Subject: [midatlanticretro] Exhibit planning
            >
            >
            > Hello all,
            >
            > All this talk about which computers are "important" is heading to
            the lame
            > type of exhibit that I have always feared: a room ringed with
            computers and
            > no story to tie it all together. Such an exhibit might be
            interesting to
            > people like us who already know (or think we know) the history of
            the
            > computer industry but will bore the typical visitor who will decide
            that
            > "there was nothing to see" and never come back. Our museum should
            tell a
            > story with the individual pieces of the story changing over time.
            That way
            > people can learn something new each time they come.
            >
            > I think we are doing this entirely backward. The first step should
            be to
            > decide what story we want to tell, then select exhibits to
            illustrate that
            > story. If you want to tell the story of the development of the
            microcomputer
            > industry, the story needs to talk as much about the people as it
            does about
            > the machines.
            >
            > Herb Johnson and Jack Rubin both alluded to this in their messages
            on
            > Tuesday. Is this a generation issue?
            >
            > Even if this part of the museum is to be about the artifacts rather
            than
            > about the story of the microcomputer, the industry, the people or
            something
            > else, each exhibit of a machine should _thoroughly_ explain why a
            particular
            > machine is significant. What did it do first or better? How did is
            earn it's
            > place in history? Telling the story of each machine will require a
            > significant investment in signage - big signs that people can read
            while
            > standing a few feet from the machine. Such signs, plus the space to
            display
            > related software, manuals, accessories, etc. will require at least
            double
            > the space Evan calculated. IOW, on a realistic basis, the large
            room can
            > support less than half of the machines you have been discussing.
            >
            > This is OK. It's better to do a few exhibits _WELL_ than to just
            show a
            > bunch of hardware on shelves. Anybody can plop machines on a table
            and call
            > it a museum. Herb has shown that we can do better.
            >
            > Jim
            >
          • Evan Koblentz
            ... could develop an inventory of themes on a handful of story lines that you love to tell. Whenever you set up a display, you d set up the overall theme
            Message 5 of 6 , Jun 30, 2008
              >>> Might I suggest a 3-level approach to display information? ..... MARCH
              could develop an inventory of "themes" on a handful of story lines
              that you love to tell. Whenever you set up a display, you'd set up the
              overall theme boards for the whole story line, then for each machine,
              it's own Theme" and "Basics" boards. .... This would give MARCH an
              inventory of stories, and bring coherence into a unified display. Has
              nothing to do with graphics and flowers. Just good organization and
              forethought.

              Great idea, John! I like it a lot.
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