If you're working with a collection of offline media, adding those files to your Scalar book means deciding where they should be hosted online. Depending on the type of media, you may have a wide variety of options to choose from. Here's a table showing the range of possibilities for each type of file along with a summary of the pros and cons of each:
|Images||Audio||Video||Documents||Pros & Cons|
|Upload to Scalar||x||x||x||x||Quick and easy; files must be <2 MB|
|Self-hosted||x||x||x||x||Maximum control; incurs hosting costs|
|Hosted by third party||x||x||x||x||Low impact, minimum control; files could be moved unexpectedly|
|Critical Commons||x||x||x||Contributes to the growth of a fair use media archive for scholars; involves adding scholarly commentary to the media on Critical Commons|
|Internet Archive||x||x||x||Established resource explicitly designed for archiving media|
|SoundCloud||x||Full-featured audio player|
|Vimeo||x||Well-established video service|
|YouTube||x||Well-established video service; greater risk of takedowns, especially for media uploaded by others|
Uploading Media to Scalar
This is the simplest way to get your media into Scalar, but also the most restrictive. You are free to upload any file type you like using the Import > Local media files option in Scalar's navigation, but no single file can be larger than 2 MB. As a result, this approach works best for images and small text-based documents.
Hosting Your Own Media
If you already have a hosting package for your own website, this approach can be ideal, as it offers the greatest amount of control over where your files are located. Simply place the files on your server, use the Import > Internet media files option, and enter the URL of each file to import into Scalar. You control the server, so you control the status of your files. If your book becomes popular, however, you may incur additional bandwidth costs for serving up the media, especially video and audio files.
Media Hosted by a Third Party
This approach has the distinct advantage of being low-impact for you; someone else hosts the files, and you don't have to worry about hosting costs. Depending on your relationship with the host, however, it could also be the riskiest approach. Simply linking to a file on a website whose owners you have no relationship invites "link rot," the possibility that the file could be moved or removed without notice at some point in the future. This means that at any time, the media could disappear from your book, and you would have no way of knowing anything was wrong until the next time you tried to view the media, or if a kindly reader decided to contact you about the problem. Third party hosting is less of an issue when you have a relationship with the host and a way to get in touch if something goes wrong. If you do go this route, use the Import > Internet media files option with the URL of the desired file to bring it into Scalar.
Critical Commons (not to be confused with Creative Commons) is a kind of "YouTube for scholars," a public media archive and fair use advocacy network that supports "the transformative reuse of media in scholarly and creative contexts." Copyrighted media excerpts (video, images, and audio) uploaded to Critical Commons remain hidden until the account holder adds a commentary that places the excerpted media in a critical context, thus making the file accessible to others while simultaneously helping to legitimize the claim for its fair use. These media also then become searchable within Scalar, where the user can import them and bring them into additional critical environments. For more information, visit the Critical Commons site.
Scalar includes direct links to other media services like Internet Archive, SoundCloud, Vimeo, and YouTube, each of which has its role to play and its own pros and cons as a Scalar media source. All online media is subject to the vagaries of the institutions and organizations which host it; there is no such thing as a permanent online archive. When selecting a company or organization to host your media, however, it's important to consider both your material and its implications with respect to the motivations of the host, as some media and hosts make better bedfellows than others.