Alright, I admit that title was a mouthful. Basically, I just wanted to alert readers who may not have heard of it that there’s a new, web-based digital authoring tool called Scalar that they may find useful. It’s an open-source application built by the Alliance for Networking Visual Culture at USC. Unlike many authoring tools, it was designed by scholars for scholars, and more particularly by new media scholars for the new media environment.
What does it do? Scalar allows authors to create units of web pages called “books” (imagine that!), that they can organize as they will and index robustly. You can, for example, design “paths” through your work based on anticipated readers’ needs: those of you who need to know who Lenin is, go here, those who only want to see Malevich’s paintings, go there. Perhaps most attractively from my point of view, Scalar combines the ease of blogging with elegant tools for incorporating media into your work (as well as for annotating images, videos, texts, etc.).
There’s a lot more that can be said about Scalar. Its thoughtful design both opens up fantastic opportunities for web-based scholarship, and forces us to think about how we produce, curate, and disseminate knowledge in our new media era. But since this post is mostly informational, I’ll stop there for now and perhaps come back to the topic later.
I’ll concludes with one personal anecdote. The data recently migrated at my school. I lost my old personal website, a site that I built with my own two hands in a little log cabin on the Illinois prairie, the old fashioned way, using HTML. I cried a little inside: and then I used Scalar to build a new one. It was easy! And as I was working along, I also created a short essay about the song, “When I Served the Coach as a Postman,” featuring this stunning performance by Ivan Skobtsov (1900-1983). Perhaps RHL readers may find it interesting, as well. Skobtsov’s performance is certainly not to be missed.