Archiversology & the App

Practice-Oriented Attributes: What Will the Archiverse App Allow?

The Archiverse app is a networked composition tool and a thinking space. It allows for interaction between Archinauts, a being together in language relation. It is also a collaborative space. Furthermore, it might allow for diagrammatic note taking and embedded media (images, audio, video) organization, even if those aren’t its primary functions.

As with AutoCAD, the app is a provisional means for accessing the Archiverse. So far in AutoCAD exploration, we have placed language objects along one plane, a single compositional surface, but the app might help us explore the potential of multiple intersecting planes tied at a node (picture the center of an asterisk of infinite size). Archinauts could rotate their perspective to access (or establish) other planes and treat them as surfaces on which to place language objects. Archinauts might also shift their perspective so that they can view (and even access) multiple planes at once, at a tilt. This could also allow Archinauts to copy/paste or throw objects from one plane to another.


Every language object must be assigned a layer. This provides an editable field into which Archinauts can type keyboard characters. Those fields may be formatted in terms of margins, fonts, and justification, and carriage returns may be inserted. Each layer has a set of attributes. For example, in Letters From the Archiverse, the composition/iteration we have been developing, one layer is red, is named sentence, and has a relatively heavy lineweight (which would be evident in a grayscale snapshot). So in this provisional archiversal space, layer attributes include color, name (usually a grammatical or prosodic term, except in the case of the shadow layer), and lineweight. New layers may be created, and layer attributes may be changed globally, or on an object-by-object basis, and may be redefined locally in page space (vs model space).


In the app version, we would like to add audio and kinetic attributes to layers, and also assign relative density to each layer. These attributes will all come into play if we set the Archiverse in motion, so that objects can be thrown, flicked, slung, and set adrift. Different kinetic attributes might affect the relative entropy of different objects. Different densities would affect relative behavior of objects that come into contact with one another: Do they pass over or through one another, does one bounce off another, might one object break apart into letters, words or other linguistic fragments if struck by another object? Meanwhile, objects may emit more or less articulated tones or voices related to their layer attributes and linguistic content. The movement of objects, as well as their proximity to one another, may affect those sounds, creating an electronic music Archinauts may adjust by manipulating objects, zooming in or out (where for example perhaps only objects on screen transmit sound), or adjusting sliders for tempo and gain. The tempo function might relate to the speed of objects in motion, as well as the rate of change in the Archiverse relative to overall activity, so that an Archinaut can speed things up or slow things down as a way of moving through the Archiverse.

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This relates to the time/space archival operation of the Archiverse, where Archinauts can move forward or backward along the compositional history of the Archiverse through a series of haptic gestures. They might also be able to select a time range (say, a 24-hour period) and view it at a variable rate (so they might view changes that took place over 24 hours in 24 seconds). Such a function might also be speculative, so that based on the selected interval the Archiverse might project what the next 24 hours could produce.

In this sense, the Archiverse app might become a hybrid artificial and organic neural network, driven both by Archinaut collaboration and computational processes.

And the key innovation to the way the Archiverse extends the notion of the active archive is that Archinauts can not only browse the accumulation of compositional gestures through time and space, but they can manipulate and expand that collection from any moment within the Archiverse. So the time/space archival operation just mentioned is a mode of interactive exploration that leaves traces—a simultaneous viewing, reading and writing of the Archiverse in hybrid graphical-textual dimensions, all in fluid, haptic time-space. But rather than thinking in terms of writing, we imagine the Archiverse as an existing data space to be actively engaged, which produces a continuously morphing record of interactive gestures in that space, where Archinauts are discovering but also expanding the known Archiverse. This record includes the appearance, manipulation and trajectory of language objects, but also potentially comprises the zooming and panning movements of Archinauts through time/space, as those movements continually reframe the known AdoubleI give I give thisrchiverse. This is what archiversal thinking adds to the concept of the archive, and this is the agency afforded to Archinauts that takes them beyond the traditional role of the archivist. These functions and capacities will allow Archinauts to expand the compositional and exploratory possibilities of the Archiverse, as they invent new modes of articulation.

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Imagine when Archinauts discover how to manipulate time/space archival operations to allow their compositions to be moved through and manipulated, so that they and others are not oriented to any one screen moment. The kinetic qualities of the Archiverse will come as much from the entropic manipulation of language objects as from surveying and affecting synchronic and diachronic object relations and compositional gestures. Corresponding electronic sounds can be calibrated to further guide exploration, so that tempos and arrangements inflect and are inflected by those journeys through archiversal time and space.

Our conceptual imaginations as Archiverse interface developers need to be expansive so that we can begin to anticipate the ways Archinauts might use these tools. We have learned much from exploring the provisional Archiverse in AutoCAD, and in our discussions with the digital writing community, and we look forward to the next phase of networked, touch-screen tablet development.

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