The Alliance for Networking Visual Culture

Announcing Scalar 2.6 — and Lenses!

We’re thrilled to announce the launch of Scalar 2.6, featuring Lenses — a whole new way to explore relationships between content in Scalar projects. Lenses allow you to dynamically search and visualize Scalar content in a wide variety of ways. For example, a lens can map all pages that are geo-tagged to within 100 miles of Tokyo, diagram all of the media items tagged “post-structuralism”, or draw a word cloud of the contents of every page the reader visited in the last week. Lenses can be embedded in a page using the Lens widget, and the content they return can be exported as CSV files. Any user can create new private lenses in any Scalar book, opening up new possibilities for research in Scalar publications.

The impetus behind Lenses came from scholars Kate McDonald (UC Santa Barbara) and David Ambaras (North Carolina State University) as part of their Bodies and Structures project, which they describe as “a platform for researching and teaching spatial histories of Japan, its empire, and the larger worlds of which they were a part.” Seeing the potential for an expanded suite of visualization features to unlock new avenues of research, McDonald and Ambaras collaborated with Scalar team members Craig Dietrich and Erik Loyer to conceive the Lenses concept, which ultimately received funding in the form of a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

To see Lenses in action, check out this Twitter thread showing various examples in the USC Libraries project Mirrors and Mass: Wayne Thom’s Southern California. For more details about Lenses and how they work, visit the Scalar documentation.

We can’t wait to see what you’ll do with Lenses!

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