Scalar: The next big thing in scholarly publishing?

To all those following our commentaries on open access, e-books, the scholarly communication crisis, and educational technologies, there is a new platform out there that touches on all of these while tossing in a taste of the Semantic Web and information visualization too.

The Alliance for Networking Visual Culture recently released Scalar, described as a “born-digital, open source, media-rich” venue for scholarly publishing. The idea behind Scalar is to give authors a place to publish extended work that takes advantage of the possibilities of digital technologies.

Educational and scholarly publishing platforms like Scalar are increasing in numbers (see for example the New York Times‘ coverage of other self-publishing options and the push from Kathleen Fitzpatrick to bring rigorous peer reviewinto her own online publishing platform MediaCommons).

What makes Scalar stand apart from other self-publishing platforms is that it matches open source software with the ability to easily produce rich content. To see what this looks like in action, see the list of projects that have already leveraged Scalar to publish.

Scalar is also the result of extensive collaboration among some pretty impressive groups. So if what the platform can do doesn’t impress you, perhaps you can give it some credit (and some more development time) for the admirable folks who are behind its development.

However, most scholars will likely stick with the bread-and-butter of peer-reviewed monographs and journals, at least for the time being. Those with a taste for the exotic (or in positions that allow them to take more adventurous turns in their scholarly work), however, will likely be testing out these new options more and more.