Recent Conversation

   Archived Conversation

Jun 14, 2012 — Critical Sections wins Jury’s Choice Award at ELO 2012 Media Art Show

May 03, 2012 — The Knotted Line is the first project to use Scalar to drive a custom interface

Mar 02, 2012 — Scalar-based complement to Matthew Delmont’s The Nicest Kids in Town launches

Oct 03, 2011 — Compatible Data Initiative Highlights Workflows between Archives, Linked Data, and Authors

Sep 21, 2011 — Vectors’ team developing Scalar

Feb 03, 2011 — Vectors publishes Critical Code Studies 2010 Conference Proceedings

Jan 15, 2011 — Call for Proposals: NEH Summer 2011 Vectors-CTS Summer Institute on Digital Approaches to American Studies

Aug 01, 2010 — ThoughtMesh: “A Tool for a Healthy Commons”

May 20, 2010 — Launch: Precision Targets

Apr 16, 2010 — Job Announcement: Mukurtu Project Developer II

Feb 15, 2010 — “Forging the Future” Mesh launches, includes book

Feb 13, 2010 — CFP - Broadening the Digital Humanites: The Vectors-IML/UC-HRI Summer Institute

Feb 09, 2010 — Erik Loyer and Craig Dietrich present at USC

Feb 08, 2010 — Revised academic criteria = most downloaded Leonardo article

Sep 21, 2009 — Summer 2009 Institute fellows featured in gallery installation on collaboration

May 19, 2009 — Dynamic Backend Generator (DBG): A Scholarly Middleware Tool

Apr 17, 2009 — Leonardo publishes UMaine's "New Criteria for New Media"

Apr 17, 2009 — ThoughtMesh announces affiliation with Carnegie-Mellon

Feb 10, 2009 — ThoughtMesh launches "peer review" feature

Feb 08, 2009 — CFP Announced for Vectors-IML Summer 2009 NEH Institute

Sep 30, 2008 — ThoughtMesh featured at Harvard's Berkman Center

Jun 17, 2008 — Poets and Pundits Pounce on ThoughtMesh

May 30, 2008 — ThoughtMesh featured in The Chronicle of Higher Education

Apr 07, 2008 — Blue Velvet to be exhibited at Electronic Literature Organization conference

Jan 30, 2008 — Public Secrets selected for transmediale ‘08

Jan 30, 2008 — Vectors’ Fellow Kim Christen featured on BBC’s Digital Planet

Apr 10, 2007 — Public Secrets Wins Webby Honoree Award

Feb 15, 2007 — Vectors to be featured in The Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival

Aug 02, 2006 — Cast-offs from the Golden Age to be featured on Electrofringe

Jun 26, 2006 — VectorSpace gains new multi-issue functionality.

May 08, 2006 — Vectors Fellow wins ACLS Fellowship

Feb 15, 2006 — Vectors selected as Cool Pick

Aug 26, 2005 — Vectors featured at Teaching with Technology

Jun 01, 2005 — Kate Hayles’ Narrating Bits at

May 17, 2005 — What would you do with a mobile Internet?

Feb 26, 2005 — Vectors launches at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles!

Feb 21, 2005 — Vectors featured in The Chronicle of Higher Education

We are pleased to announce the launch of Freedom’s Ring, a Scalar-based, interactive experience of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech. Produced by the King Institute at Stanford for the 50th anniversary of King’s Speech, Freedom’s Ring allows viewers to compare the written and spoken speech, explore multimedia images, listen to movement activists, and uncover historical context.

Freedom’s Ring is a custom-designed website which pulls its content from Scalar via the open API, enabling the interface to be tailored to the content at hand. The project contains an interactive transcript that highlights differences between the way King’s speech was delivered and how it was originally written. To capture these differences, Scalar was used to annotate every phrase of the speech, following King’s own cadences. Each annotation contains both the spoken and written versions of the phrase (if they differ), plus markup that distinguishes the two for display. Key words in the transcript are linked to questions illuminating the context of the speech, and each question is a Scalar path containing short explications of related topics, with extensive use of video and images to shed additional light on the subject matter.

— Vectors Journal, August 27th, 2013, 0 Comments »

We are pleased to announce that Scalar, an affiliated project from the Vectors’ team, has received an Editors’ Choice award from!  The in-depth review praises the platform for its flexibility, connectivity and originality.  The author, William Fenton, notes, “Before it even became available, Scalar had the Digital Humanities community abuzz. A product of USC’s Alliance for Networking Visual Culture, Scalar (Free) was heralded as a groundbreaking publishing platform that would empower users to chart non-linear paths though a pastiche of Web-born content and media—all without onerous technical expertise. After using the open beta for nearly a month, I am happy to report that Scalar achieves, and perhaps surpasses, the scuttlebutt.”  The review concludes “compare Scalar to its kin, and you will soon see that it does not have any: Scalar stands apart in its novelty, accessibility, and capability, and for these reasons—and many more—it receives PCMag’s Editors’ Choice award.” Hearty congratulations to the development team and all the Scalar early adopters!

— Vectors Journal, June 6th, 2013, 0 Comments »

We are thrilled to announce a new open-access, born-digital publication authored in Scalar, D|N|A: Seven Interactive Essays on Nonlinear Storytelling.  Edited by Matt Soar and Monika Gagnon, Database|Narrative|Archive brings together seven ‘essays’ by nine thinkers and artists within the Scalar platform to explore the emergent medium of nonlinear digital storytelling.  In their introduction, the editors observe that “analyses and hyperlinks to dozens of mediaworks make this Scalar-produced media-rich collection unique, aggregating some of the most recent crowdsourced and interactive mediaworks that are here made available to readers to explore, such as Katerina Cizek’s Highrise Project (ongoing), David Dufresne and Philippe Brault’s Prison Valley (2011), with references to older experimental films such as Dziga Vertov’s Man with a Movie Camera (1929) and Perry Bard’s participatory remake, Man With a Movie Camera: The Global Remake (ongoing), as well as references to the work of Maya Deren, Stan Brakhage, and Michael Figgis’s Timecode (2000).”  We encourage you to engage the work, comment upon it, and share it with your networks.  Vectors‘ author Sharon Daniel has a piece in the collection.

— Vectors Journal, April 30th, 2013, 0 Comments »

Another new Scalar project: The Knotted Line, a “tactile laboratory” created by artist/educator Evan Bissell that explores the nature of freedom and confinement in the United States. True to its name, The Knotted Line represents the intertwined histories of incarceration, education and labor through a collection of miniature paintings by Bissell depicting over 50 historical moments, all connected by a flowing, interactive line that can be pushed, pulled, and opened to reveal the imagery and content inside. This dynamic interface, designed and developed by Vectors’s creative director Erik Loyer, is almost wholly driven by material authored in Scalar—the first project to use Scalar in this way.

Each painting of The Knotted Line is annotated with brief glosses which introduce the historical event it depicts, and then link to an expanded treatment of the event in Scalar’s native reading interface, featuring embedded videos, images, and resources for educators. The complete timeline, which focuses on the geographical area of the United States, covers over 500 years of history, including some hopeful speculation about future events.

The Knotted Line shows the versatility of Scalar in the way in which it uses the same store of content to drive radically different, yet complementary presentations. Scalar’s ability to add arbitrary metadata using popular ontologies like Dublin Core and ArtSTOR made it possible to include the temporal and spatial coordinates needed by the tactile interface, while still keeping content visible and editable within Scalar’s default presentation.

Because of the visual, pedagogical, and historical nature of its content, The Knotted Line represents a dataset with its own creative potential for remix and reuse. To encourage this, the project’s creators have included a “Data Sources” path which explains where to find useful resources like 300 dpi versions of each painting, an XML file that defines every point of the “knotted line” itself, and more—a great example of how the open access philosophy behind Scalar enables projects to function simultaneously as publications, websites, archives, and services. As a result, the potential exists to reformat The Knotted Line as a poster, a game, or some unforeseen mashup with another data source; we’re excited by the possibilities.

— Tara McPherson, May 3rd, 2012, 0 Comments »

We’re happy to announce that the latest Scalar publication to go live is the digital companion to Matthew Delmont’s new book The Nicest Kids in Town (University of California Press), which explores American Bandstand’s discriminatory policies against black youth in Philadelphia—contrary to the claims of host Dick Clark that he integrated the show in its early years. Delmont’s digital project features over 100 images and video clips, including memorabilia, newspaper clippings, and vintage clips from American Bandstand. The Scalar publication first began to take shape at the NEH Institute for Advanced Topics in the Digital Humanities in Summer 2011.

Delmont’s project uses Scalar’s “paths” feature to organize his material into three main sections: “Bandstand’s Local Years: 1952-1957,” “America’s Bandstand: 1957-1964,” and “Remembering American Bandstand,” each replete with media illustrations. As the screen shot above (taken from one of Scalar’s built-in visualizations) illustrates, media (shown in green) comprises roughly 3/4 of the discrete content elements in the project, and is extensively referenced (media links are represented as green arcs).

Delmont recently spoke about his research on Democracy Now! with Amy Goodman and Juan González.

— Tara McPherson, March 2nd, 2012, 0 Comments »

ANVC’s Craig Dietrich joined a group of scientists, humanists, and archivists for a weekend at the New York Public Library to discuss workflows between digital archives, linked data, and authors. At the Compatible Data Initiative conference, Dietrich presented Scalar’s use of XSLT and RDF technology to seemlessly bridge the platform with partner archives including Critical Commons and the Internet Archive. He concluded his talk with a call for publishing platforms to encourage responsible use of media through import features that maintain metadata records and templates that balance voice in both text and image.

Dietrich co-presented with UMaine Still Water co-director Jon Ippolito, who featured the Metaserver, an emerging tool for linking records across archives.

Both Scalar and the Metaserver can point to resources without needing to create a local copy, meaning they can outsource the labor of updating references to the various collections to those curators who are in a better position to do so. And both are free and open-source software. (Still Water blog)

— Tara McPherson, October 3rd, 2011, 0 Comments »

The Vectors’ team is the core development team for the Alliance for Networking Visual Culture.  The ANVC seeks to enrich the intellectual potential of our fields to inform understandings of an expanding array of visual practices as they are reshaped within digital culture, while also creating scholarly contexts for the use of digital media in film, media and visual studies. By working with humanities centers, scholarly societies, and key library, archive, and university press partners, we are investigating and developing sustainable platforms for publishing interactive and rich media scholarship.

Our work explores new forms of scholarly publishing aimed at easing the current economic crisis faced by many university presses while also serving as a model for media-rich digital publication. In essence, we are creating a pipeline to support emerging genres of scholarship that moves from soup to nuts, integrating core intellectual questions in our fields with content acquisition, training for scholars in digital research methodologies, and new paradigms and partnerships for publication, dissemination and warranting of scholarship. In partnership with film and video archives, scholarly societies, and presses, we are modeling twenty-first century possibilities for scholarly communication. New technological platforms like Scalar are a key part of the process but equally important are the human networks we are building: rich collaborations between archives, presses, and groups of scholars who can together provide new platforms for scholarship that are motivated by the key questions that animate humanities scholarship.

— Tara McPherson, September 21st, 2011, 0 Comments »

This document describing a tool developed by the Vectors team was first released in July, 2006.  The text has been updated to reflect recent changes to the software.

Concept Overview

First launched in 2005, Vectors is an international electronic journal dedicated to expanding the potentials of academic publication via emergent and transitional media. Moving well beyond the text-with-pictures format of much electronic scholarly publishing, Vectors brings together visionary scholars with cutting-edge designers and technologists to propose a thorough rethinking of the dynamic relationship of form to content in academic research, focusing on the ways technology shapes, transforms and reconfigures social and cultural relations.  Vectors’ fellows are afforded the opportunity to work closely with our design and development team in order to realize new media instantiations of their scholarly projects.  Projects published in Vectors push the interface of scholarly publishing in exciting new directions, but these “front-end” innovations are largely possible because of the database structures we have also been developing.

One of the most promising and unexpected outcomes of the Vectors project has been the emergence of the database as a critical tool for the future of scholarship, not just as a repository for information but as an intellectual instrument in its own right.  In an effort to scale the Vectors process and to make the successes of our collaborative endeavors more widely available, we have developed the Dynamic Backend Generator (DBG), an open-source middleware tool that has the potential to reconfigure scholarly endeavors in powerful new ways.  This tool functions as a kind of middleware ‘engine,’ a robust and flexible database construction kit well suited to scholarly endeavors.  Databases, of course, are nothing new, having long proved useful in their ability to separate the structure of information from its presentation, allowing that information to be organized and manipulated while still in a state of abstraction.  The uniqueness of the DBG is that it begins to harness the power of the database for next-generation scholarship in the humanities and qualitative social sciences.

Read the rest of this entry »

— Vectors Journal, May 19th, 2009, 0 Comments »

As part of a recent update to the VectorSpace, Vectors’ own “intellectual paint program,” users can now search and browse for projects from any issue of Vectors and paint with them all in the same space. Information visualizers such as “Intersections” and “Keyword Flow” can now be used to visually explore the metadata for projects across issues. Previously users could only explore projects from one issue at a time.

To try out the new functionality, head to the VectorSpace and click “Get More Projects.”

— Vectors Journal, June 26th, 2006, 0 Comments »