The Alliance for Networking Visual Culture

Scalar 2 is Here!


We’re excited to announce the official launch of our new reader interface, Scalar 2! 

The new interface has been completely rebuilt to give your books greater visual impact while making them easier to read, navigate, and edit. Among our new features: an interactive main menu; more robust visualizations; new ways to add media to pages; a new page editor and many more page layouts. For a full list of new features, see the section Scalar 2: What’s New? in our User’s Guide.

Interactive Table of Contents

An interactive table of contents now allows readers to browse the overall structure of a book without ever leaving the current page. Accessed from the top left corner of the header, readers can click on an item’s right arrow to reveal its related content (paths, tags, comments, or annotations). It’s a great way to “walk” through a book’s paths and sub-paths to get a better sense of their contents.

New Page Layouts

To increase the readability and versatility of Scalar books, we’ve added a number of new layout options to the new interface, including image headers, splash pages, media galleries, maps, and other features. The new Google Map layout, for instance, plots the current page plus any geotagged content it contains or tags on a map embedded at the top of the page. A new “Structured Media Gallery” view organizes media from multiple paths into groups of thumbnails which display their media when clicked.

Image Header Layout Structured Media Gallery Layout Google Map Layout

For a full list of new page layout options, see Selecting a Page’s Default Layout in our updated User’s Guide.

Optimized for Mobile Devices

Scalar’s new interface has been optimized for reading on tablets and smartphones. Media on smaller screens is now scaled to full width in a compact layout that’s easy to scroll through. What’s more, tablet and mobile readers can now take advantage of the new interactive table of contents to browse the structure of a book while remaining on the current page. Finally, the updated, streamlined page editor now brings Scalar authoring to mobile platforms as well.


Scalar Webinars: Announcing Our Spring Schedule

The Alliance for Networking Visual Culture will offer another series of free online webinars this spring.

All webinars will feature our new interface, Scalar 2. Our “Introduction to Scalar” webinars will cover basic features of the platform: a review of existing Scalar books and a hands-on introduction to paths, tags, annotations and importing media. Our “Intermediate Scalar” webinars will delve into more advanced topics including the effective use of visualizations, annotating with media and a primer on customizing appearances in Scalar.

Our spring schedule will include four dates:

Introduction to Scalar: February 18, 10am-12pm (PST)
Intermediate Scalar: March 10, 10am-12pm (PST)
Introduction to Scalar: March 31, 4pm-6pm (PST)
Intermediate Scalar: April 21, 4pm-6pm (PST)

Hurry, spaces are limited!

Register here.

Annotating All Knowledge

Screenshot from’ intro video featuring Vannevar Bush’s Memex, or memory index.

The Alliance for Networking Visual Culture is proud to announce our latest venture with Last fall we integrated the plugin as a fully supported annotation sidebar within the Scalar reader interface. This sidebar acts as a review layer atop each page in a Scalar book, allowing authors, readers and editors to comment on and participate in threaded conversations regarding granular textual elements on those pages (see here). In July of this year we were awarded funding from the NEH to develop copyediting and peer-review functionality within Scalar, by in part, leveraging these very features of the plugin (see here).

Today announced a coalition of over 40 scholarly publishers, platforms, and technology partners that share the goal of building an open conversation layer over all knowledge. The Alliance, and with it Scalar, will be an integral part of that coalition.

The members of this coalition represent some of the world’s largest and most important scholarly publishers and knowledge platforms — essential services such as JSTOR, PLOS, HathiTrust, arXiv, HighWire Press and Wiley. Together we realize that a robust and interoperable conversation layer can transform scholarship, enabling personal note taking, peer review, copy editing, post publication discussion, journal clubs, classroom uses, automated classification, deep linking, and much more. We understand that this layer must evolve as an open, interoperable, and shared capability aligned with the motivations and interests of scholars and researchers.

We’re excited to be a part of this effort! For more details on the coalition and a full list of its members, see here.

ANVC Archives + Libraries Workshop

Sherri Berger from the California Digital Library discusses outcomes from her breakout session.

The Alliance recognizes that seizing the opportunities of multimedia scholarship will require deep collaboration between all the stakeholders in scholarly communication and that this includes none more than archives, libraries, and museums. To this end, the Alliance recently gathered together representatives from key cultural heritage institutions for a one-day workshop to address issues at the intersection of digital curation, preservation and access, on the one hand, and multimedia research, scholarship, and publishing, on the other.

Representatives from the Getty, Library of Congress, LACMA, the California Digital Library, the Peabody Collection, the WGBH Foundation, the Media Ecology Project, the Texas Archive of the Moving Image, and the University of Southern California Libraries together with members of the Alliance discussed a range of topics. Some of the core challenges articulated again and again by participants included connecting users to content, linking materials and metadata across institutions, digitizatizing massive collections with limited resources, and getting risk-aversive institutions to support access to copyrighted materials under fair use. Still, there was plenty to be excited about! Participants also shared potential opportunities along each of these lines, for example, current efforts in linked bibliographic data and networked models for aggregating content across institutions, both regionally and nationally.

We’ll keep everyone posted as concrete activities and collaborations from the workshop start to form.

Thanks for all who attended!

Bad object 2.0: Games and gamers


Bad Object 2.0: Games and Gamers, Steve Anderson’s latest article, composed entirely in Scalar, has just been published by G|A|M|E The Italian Journal of Game Studies (No. 4; Vol. 1). According to Anderson, Associate Professor of the Practice of Cinematic Arts at the University of Southern California, the article focuses on the cultural discourse surrounding digital games as they have been refracted by the lenses of American film and television. It considers a broad cross-section of Hollywood’s depictions of games, tracing their evolution from objects of fascination and technological possibility in the 1970s and 1980s to catalysts for antisocial behavior in the 1990s and 2000s.

Anderson’s overall aims in this piece dovetail well with Scalar’s structural affordances. The goal of the article’s organization, according to Anderson, is to enable readers to explore the project according to their own areas of interest rather than by necessarily following a sequence of linear arguments. To this end, the argument put forward in each section has been conceived with minimal dependence on adjacent elements. In addition to the thematic sections of the article, readers can also explore the complete collection of clips via a Media Chronology page.

The collection of clips included in the article also constitutes a sub-archive within the critical media-sharing site Critical Commons, where all original media files may be viewed or downloaded for further use. Reader-viewers are thus, according to Anderson, invited to investigate the media and arguments put forward in the article, not as definitive or exclusive readings, but as interpretive beginnings, which will hopefully be generative of further discussion and research.

See Bad Object 2.0: Games and Gamers here.


Image Annotations Just Got Easier!


Annotations are an important part of what authors do with Scalar, and indeed, an important part of the platform’s overall feature set. Scalar comes equipped with a full suite of annotation tools allowing users to annotate images, video, audio, even text and source code files. Individual media objects can be annotated countless times; individual annotations can be applied to countless media objects.

But until now, Scalar users creating image annotations have been required to manually set their coordinates, width and height. Not anymore! We’ve just finished integrating the open source plugin, Annotorious into our image annotation editor. Creating an image annotation now is as easy as dragging your cursor and drawing out the area of the image you wish to highlight and annotate. And just as before, users are free to create multiple annotations for a single image, drawing their reader’s attention to various aspects of a single photo, screenshot or illustration.

For step-by-step instructions on creating image annotations see our Scalar 1 and Scalar 2 User’s Guides.



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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.