photo looking down a spiral staircase

Getting Creative with Scalar

Personally, I find digital projects (particularly those that are done well) fascinating. So imagine how awesome it is to be in a program that gives you the option to make a digital project for your thesis. Of course, traditional written theses are still allowed in my MA program, but the digital project option is given to encourage the use of the digital skills we’re encouraged to acquire. Because I will be graduating in May and am on a particular timeline, I won’t be able to create a digital project for my thesis. There simply isn’t time, but I am still interested in creating a digital version of my written thesis once it has been defended and revised.

Scalar could be one platform I use to do this. As Omeka is WordPress for museums, Scalar seems to be Omeka for scholarly books. In some ways, Scalar acts like a digital Choose Your Own Adventure. It allows you to create varying paths through a project and there are multiple visualizations that can be used to express those paths. Instead of a linear path that leads from A to Z, Scalar introduces this path customization that integrates varying media to enhance a project. It also allows for a lot of customization, which means that a project can be built almost entirely around the topic rather than the topic having to conform to set methods of presentation. The structure is flexible, the visualization is flexible, the uses are endless.

The project I see myself building with Scalar in the future is an enhanced version of my written thesis. By no means does a project have to be written before being created in Scalar, but this is the method I’ve chosen based on my needs. My thesis will not be book length, so what I’m hoping to build is a project that can be completely explored in an hour or less — as one might read a chapter of a traditional book.¬† The topic of my thesis could be greatly enhanced with the integration of photos, maps, and other visual representations.¬†Ideally, what a viewer would experience would be a digitally enhanced version of my written thesis where one could see the photos of the memorials for themselves, read translations of plaques next to original images, and see where these sites of memorialization are located in relation to one another. The possibilities seem endless and I’m sure I’ll discover even more and interesting uses for Scalar as I build the project.


Photo credit: Karl-Ludwig Poggemann via Flickr. CC BY 2.0.