The Alliance for Networking Visual Culture

Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities is Hiring!

Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities (MITH) is seeking a Lead Developer to work on research-intensive projects in the digital humanities. See the complete job description here.

Steve Anderson Wins ACLS Digital Innovation Fellowship for Scalar Project

Steve Anderson, Associate Professor of Media Arts and Practice at the University of Southern California and Co-PI for the Alliance for Networking Visual Culture has been awarded a 2014 ACLS Digital Innovation Fellowship for his project Technologies of Cinema: A Critical Digital Archive and Multimodal History of the American Technocultural Imaginary. Technologies of Cinema is an interactive, richly mediated electronic publication and critical media archive designed to model the integration of Scalar and the media archive Critical Commons. The Technologies of Cinema archive will offer a publicly accessible collection of media depicting the evolution of computer technology as seen on American commercial film and TV from the 1950s to the present. “This project merges my interests in technology and culture with thinking about the way history is rendered on film and television,” professor Anderson has said about the project, “Computers were very much a part of the popular imagination going back to the early 1950s, before most people had seen or had direct experience with them. As we move forward in time through an archive of hundreds of clips, we see the evolution of computers from mainframe data processors operated by specialists to being a part of everyday life with PCs, digital games, and mobile devices.”

The Scalar project will be a book-length critical treatment of this history, featuring hundreds of embedded media files and a series of original video essays. The project represents the most ambitious integration of Critical Commons and Scalar yet attempted, providing both an illuminating cultural analysis and model for future scholarship.

Scalar Server Status Update — 20 February 2014

We’d like to thank the Scalar user community for your continued patience as we recover from the server hard drive failure from a few weeks ago. We wish to update you on the effort to recover uploaded media files, offer some new options for authors to replace their missing media, and provide information about the future status of the Scalar server setup.

Data recovery
We have been waiting patiently as a specialized lab attempts to recover the media files on our failed RAID hard drives. The process is still ongoing, and will probably take another week, even to learn how many of the media files can be restored. As soon as we have a resolution, we will restore what files we can. If you have already started replacing missing media in your books, you may continue to do so—we will not overwrite existing files with recovered ones.

Re-uploading media
Every imported media file still has its associated Scalar media page and metadata intact, even if the media file itself has gone missing. Authors who, for any reason, need to restore their media files ASAP, can do so in one of two ways.

1) To individually replace a small number of missing media files, follow these steps:

a) Visit the file upload page at Main Menu > Import > Local Media Files.
b) You’ll notice a new pulldown menu next to the words “Replace existing”. Select the previously created media page from the alphabetized list.
c) Click “Choose file” and select the replacement media file on your computer.
d) Click “Upload” to upload the media file to the Scalar server. Once the file is uploaded, you will be redirected to the media page with the newly uploaded file displayed, and all of the previous metadata (title, description, etc.) intact.

2) Authors who have a large directory of media files all contained within one folder can use their preferred file hosting service to get that directory to us. Authors should contact us at before doing so (please do not send zip files or folders directly to this account). The ANVC team will then bulk import the contents of that directory back into the author’s Scalar book.

New Scalar server setup
We have secured a new long-term server environment in the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences. The IT division of USC Dornsife has put together a highly available clustered two-host system designed to continue operating if one host goes offline. This configuration includes the backup of all content (textual and media) from all Scalar books, both on-site and off-site at the Disaster Recovery Center at Arizona State University in Phoenix. The new setup is comparable to state-of-the-art “enterprise” servers, and while no hosting configuration is without risk, this system is designed to reduce that risk to minimal levels. We anticipate completing the move to the new servers within the next few weeks.

Again, thank you for your patience—we will continue to post updates as needed until the transition is complete.

Scalar Server Status Update — 13 February 2014

Last week the Scalar server underwent a disk-imaging procedure, the first and most extensive step in restoring missing data. Data recovery specialists are now midway through the final step: using the disk-images they generated to reassemble data. They expect to finish sometime next week.

Thank you for your continued patience in this matter.

Scalar Server Status Update — 06 February 2014

The Scalar servers are currently with data recovery specialists undergoing an extensive disk-imaging procedure to restore data. We hope to have content now missing from Scalar books -media uploaded directly to Scalar servers- back by early next week.

Thank you for your continued patience in this matter.

The ANVC Scalar Team

Scalar Server Status Update — 28 January 2014

As indicated in our alert messages, the Scalar server recently experienced a hardware failure that has affected some aspects of Scalar books. Below, we’d like to offer a detailed overview of the problem, what works, where we’re presently experiencing issues, and how to continue authoring.

The Hardware Failure

The Scalar server incorporates a RAID array (a series of hard drives that store data redundantly to reduce the likelihood of loss). Two weeks ago one of the drives failed. By design, the other drives continued to work normally and the problem drive was successfully brought back online.

Then last weekend the RAID failed again, and this time all of the drives were impacted—suggesting hardware problems related to the mechanisms that control the drives themselves. Coincidentally, the RAID failure occurred during the same weekend as a planned maintenance shutdown. We were able to move Scalar to a temporary server and bring it online by Monday afternoon.

We’re working with specialists to fix the RAID hardware and bring the standalone Scalar server back online. In the meantime, Scalar’s temporary server is fully operational and being backed up on a daily basis. In many cases, authors and readers won’t notice any changes, but some functions have been impacted as described below.

What’s Working

Our databases store all book text and relationship content, including page titles and paragraphs, links to media, paths, tags, annotations, etc. These databases were being backed up nightly on a separate system than the RAID array, and were therefore unaffected by the hardware problem. This means that all of your book content is 100% up-to-date.

Furthermore, any media that was imported through our affiliated archive network is also unaffected. For example, videos or other media from Critical Commons, Internet Archive, YouTube, Vimeo, etc., that were brought into Scalar are also 100% functional. Annotations on media, links to the media in your pages, or any other relationships are also fully intact.

What’s Not Working

The hardware failure only affects media stored locally on the Scalar server, i.e., any media uploaded directly to Scalar during the past year using the “Local Media Files” import option. For example, if you uploaded a JPEG image from your computer directly to Scalar to use as a thumbnail, background, or inline image, this content was stored on the RAID hard drives and is not currently available. Unfortunately the RAID hardware failure also cascaded to a separate backup system that is meant to recover from this kind of fault. We rebuilt the server from a hard disk image from December 2012, therefore any content uploaded to the server before this date is available and present in Scalar books.

Since we are presently unable to access the content on the RAID drives from the past year, your Scalar book won’t be able to display media that was uploaded in this way. Rather, the media box will display “Loading Content” indefinitely. We’re working with data recovery specialists to ascertain the status of the data on the RAID drives and are hoping for a resolution very soon.

How to Continue Authoring

Apart from media uploaded directly to Scalar, all aspects of your Scalar book are fully operational. We encourage you to continue authoring in your Scalar book, and to share links to your projects. If we are able to recover the media from the RAID drives, we’ll make sure to safely merge it with any updates you may have made during this time.

Regarding uploaded media (i.e., using the “Local Media Files” import option), we are recommending that authors “stand by” while we work towards a resolution. For example, while media uploaded directly to the server can be re-uploaded, this process takes time (and requires re-linking the media to pages in a Scalar book), whereas given a successful resolution we’ll be able to place the media back online without additional actions required by authors. Of course, you should feel free to upload, import, or otherwise create new content at any time.

Due to the hardware problems on the Scalar server we migrated to a temporary server. The temporary server currently hosting Scalar is slower than our normal system. You may notice that Scalar responds a bit slower than usual or that pages take longer to load. We ask for your patience during this time.

We take very seriously all of the time and effort you put into your Scalar projects, and we apologize for any disruption to your work. Thank you for your patience, and please check back here for updates as they occur.

The ANVC Scalar Team

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The Alliance for Networking Visual Culture

The Alliance for Networking Visual Culture was created with the generous support of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.