Monday, November 1, 2010

A Change

I have been happy with the new set of inventory results which will be published later this week. However, I am now interested in seeing how students create a personal relationship with a typewriter. So, I am going to make a small change in the way that the project is conducted.

Before the planned change students were allowed to select a typewriter that they wanted to use. It was an entirely first-come-first serve approach. Frequently the students would switch typewriters looking for the one that they wanted to use the most. By this process they could not create a personal relationship with the machine to learn all of its quirks and habits. Part II of the project will allow them to create this intensely personal relationship with the machine.

I have asked for volunteers who would be willing to fill 9 slots corresponding to the 9 typewriters available to use. After they have proven a proficiency in using and caring for the typewriter, they will be assigned one machine. This machine, for all intents and purposes, will become their machine. They will be 100% responsible for its upkeep and care. If a ribbon is dry they will need to replace it. If the margins are set incorrectly, they will need to set them. If there is a problem it will be their responsibility to tell me about it.

The scope of what they will be using the machine for will also change. No longer will it be for journals exclusively. They can use the machine for all their general work. Whatever needs to be typed can be done on the typewriter. I will not be prescribing the parameters of their acceptable use. The student will have to make the decision whether to use the machine or pass for that day.

To prove proficiency in using the typewriter, the students will need to pass a series of examinations. They aren’t hard, but they do show a dedication to the project that might not manifest in the more casual users. The first test is based on the pamphlet “Typewriter Care” by the Federal Work Improvement Program. The second test is based on an illustration on Richard Polt’s web site detailing parts of the typewriter. If they pass both parts, then they can start using the typewriter for whatever work they choose. I have to work out some fairness issues in the procedure, but I think that it will allow the typewriters to be used to a greater effect.

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