4/14 Practicums 1 & 2

Hi everyone, happy last week of content!

The first practicum I am going to review tonight is https://scalar.me/anvc/scalar/ The Alliance for Networking Visual Culture’s publishing function SCALAR. This is a free forum to write and publish scholarly work. They note it is as easy as blogging, which is an important distinction because structuring and writing a book honestly sounds terrifying. It is great for collaborative work and makes it easy to structure an essay. One of my favorite functions is the built in annotation help. It allows you to embed media into an annotation and create media content in a book.

The annotation description of the website.

They also support a wide variety of media types including, JPEG, PDF, WAV and others to make all different formats of media possible. One of my favorite benefits of writing online or reading online is clicking links to jump to different pages, chapters, or tags. Scalar makes this simple by offering two structures, the path and the tag. The path is essentially following chapters, reading the work in a linear structure. The tag is content based, content is tagged and if you click a tag it takes you to the content in that tag. They also have their own API (Application Program Interface), which makes it easy to build your own visualizations or work with an already existing one. Their user guide explains how to use the API, but it essentially allows you to pull in existing visual designs and incorporate it into your book or you can create a completely new one.

Readers are able to provide feedback and start conversations about the work with the author and other readers. However, most interestingly there is a sidebar feature that can be opened on any page which allows readers to comment on and discuss as they are reading any page. Scalar emphasizes a visual interface and encourages authors to create engaging photos and covers to attract readers, their user-friendly interface makes this possible. You can find their projects and the different categories under the showcase tab. You have to request a registration key and have a university or cultural institution email, as well as, explain your request to receive the key. Then you can make an account and download the software.

The currently featured digital exhibits.

Press forward is a wordpress plugin that creates a one stop shop website. It creates content but is also an RSS reader, which means it directly pulls RSS articles for you to review and include. These articles are pulled together by Pressforward so you have easy access to them, which gives you the opportunity to analyze them and decide if they fit with your website content. You can structure it so all of the publications with content related to your website come directly to you for review. They allow for tags to easily organize items but also mark them as read or saved so you know where you left off. You can add comments (and allow other editors to comment) to organize which articles you want to add to you website. Once you’ve decided to include content, Pressforward sends it to wordpress and you can design and publish it from wordpress.

Digital Humanities Now is an example of how this can function. They have organized and structured the content to be easily accessible and reviewed. Users can suggest different articles to be included and editors have a login button to review the different suggestions. As you can see below, they organize the content in different categories. They show three options to access right away, but if you click the title it pulls up all of the articles under that tag. You can subscribe to different feeds (such as new post or editors content) included on the website and be notified of new additions. They list all of their subscriptions with descriptions to make it easy to read and decide. This a great example of the different uses of Pressforward and some of the really interesting things it can do.

Some of the different content categories on DHN.

Digital History and Librarianship is a community resource that features different articles, resources, and social media feeds. Users can suggest content and sign up to be an editor. They utilize tags such as job postings, posts, CFP, and events. Clicking these links pulls up the relevant posts or resources. It is through pressforward that the site can curate the content and find the articles to include. The Pressforward plug in makes it easy to find and review content to include on your site.

These two resources are great for creating and organizing content. How do they fit into the conversations of digital history and our course conversations? What are some ways you can use these resources in your scholarly work? Could you see yourself using either of these sources in your personal or professional life? Would love to hear your thoughts about these!

5 Replies to “4/14 Practicums 1 & 2”

  1. Hi Amanda! Thank you so much for demoing these resources. Like the other two practicum resources this week, I had no idea these existed and I’m so glad I know about them now. SCALAR seems like such an interesting platform. I appreciate the forward movement to propel the field away from publishing behind paywalls. Publishing content is something that as a graduate student is very intimidating, because I don’t know where to get started or imposter syndrome sinks in and I think there is no way that my work would be good enough for publication. SCALAR however appears to be attempting to change that. Additionally, I also appreciate the citing function, as that is a topic that has been of concern for me recently in working with digital platforms and exhibits. What is best practice for citation? So I appreciate that citing is built into SCALAR.

  2. Hi Amanda, thanks for the practicum! I have never heard of SCALAR but I think it is a really exciting tool for the future of the field. Now that I have read a few books in grad school that were specifically designed to be viewed in a digital space, it seems really promising to work with SCALAR to have similar projects in historical research. The idea of utilizing both website functions and the format of an ebook seems to work really well , especially in making research more accessible and engaging. As much as I am a fan of hardcopy books, I love this idea and think it would be so interesting to try out.

  3. Hi Amanda, thanks for this post. It is really great to know about all of these platforms for sharing and preserving work and also for building connections and communities with other scholars outside of the academy. I agree with Rosie on the citing function in SCALAR. It is always difficult to navigating citing information on digital platforms so it is great to see that SCALAR has a way to assist in that aspect. Pressforward also seems like an interesting way to organize content, especially when trying to keep up with all of the content out there!

  4. Hi Amanda! I appreciate your overview of SCALAR as a platform for scholarly publishing. I sympathize with Rosie here that publishing a book sounds really complicated and intimidating — but SCALAR seems like a good step to change that. As discussed in the book we read this week, Planned Obsolescence, I think it’s time we reconsider how scholarly work is shared among peers. SCALAR seems like a good option to for this.

  5. Hey Amanda, thanks for this review! Like my peers above, I am super interested in how SCALAR might function as a new tool for professional/academic writing online. I think we’ve all found that in online writing embedding media into our writing is increasingly important, but there is a lot of difficulty and anxiety in doing so “correctly” by academic standard. I think the idea of collaborative writing within this type of platform is also exciting, and that a tool like SCALAR might help remove barriers and paywalls to collaborative academic writing (like handbooks or edited collections) in the future.

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