CIRCA:Vectors

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Overview

Vector has both magnitude and a direction. University of Guelph’s department of physics posited that in graphics, a vector is represented by an arrow, defining the direction, and the length of the arrow defines the vector's magnitude. Vectors allow the user to click and drag the mouse pointer from one end and direction to another. Therefore, Vectors project is like a vehicle that carries other projects from their designers and creators and publishes them through Vectors electronic journal online.

The Vectors project is an electronic journal which brings together other related technological/multimedia projects designed by different technologists and designers showing how technology is shaping and transforming the social constructs and cultural relations of the contemporary society. Vector publications cut across issues in several disciplines including socio-cultural, technological, globalization, mobility, power, etc. In a nutshell, Vectors project is a project comprising other projects that illustrate the influence of various technological designs on culture. Vectors journal is now in its third volume, issue 1 (vol. 3, issue 1), and is published twice a year. The current volume is entitled ‘difference’. The publication is under the auspices of School of Cinema Television, University of South California, United States. The current issue is comprised of 7 different projects, namely: Killer Entertainments; The RED Project; Nation on the Move; Deliberative Democracy and Difference; Programmed Visions; ThoughtMesh; and Blue Velvet. Each of these projects was designed with related technologies by different designers.



As an international academic and electronic journal, it brings together designers, web authors, visionary scholars, and technologists, to look into how technology is shaping, transforming, and configuring our social and cultural values and relations. Therefore, its audience and stakeholders includes those in the academic studies and research, students, lecturers, IT businesses, designers, technologists, etc.


Historical development

The Vectors: Journal of Culture and Technology in a Dynamic Vernacular was launched in 2005 with its first volume and issue termed ‘Evidence’, with technologies including, Investigating Imaginary Evidence; Jenny Holzer at the Neue Nationalgalerie; Narrating Bits: Encounters between Humans and Intelligent Machines; Stolen Time Archive; The Menorah of Fang Bang Lu; The Unmaking of Markets: A Composite Visual History; Virtual Vaudeville. The development of Vectors electronic journal follows collaboration among several people and institutions.

The site design was supported by the creative directors - Raegan Kelly and Erik Loyer. It was however built by Erik Loyer, Raegan Kelly, and Craig Dietrich with the support of other scholars and designers such as Chris Wittenberg, Chris Hanson, Kevin Tanaka, Steve Fong, and Willy Paredes. Together, they solved creative and information challenges, and created tools for online art & humanities production. The journal received support from University of South California’s Institute for Multimedia Literacy as well as the Annenberg Center for Communication. The editor of the journal is Tara McPherson, an Associate Professor of Gender Studies and Critical Studies. She teaches courses in television, new media, and popular culture in USC’s School of Cinematic Arts. Before joining University of South California, she lectured at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, (MIT).


Technology

Dynamic Backend Generator (DBG) is a PHP/MySQL database administrative tool for editing data and information. The program shows spreadsheets of MySQL tables. Other related tables are connected to the spreadsheet with popup boxes and pull down menus. Relational data may be managed in a single spreadsheet rather than moving around tables or creating a custom application. According to Vectors blog, the DBG is a dynamically-generated middleware interface to a database, designed to help academic users conceptualize data and database structures in relation to the nature of their content and a variety of possible front-end display. An authoring tool conceived according to this principle will aid the scholar in translating their conceptual formations into database architecture. The scholar will be queried via the tool about the basic intellectual components of their research, be they specific works or authors, schools of thought, metaphors, citations, or other concepts. Each one of these is then created as its own category of information, initially independent of the others.

Dynamic Backbend Generator is a dynamically-generated middleware interface to a database, built to assist academic users to understand and conceptualize data and database structures in relation to the nature of their content and a variety of possible front-end display. The DBG software is controlled by PHP, HTML, and Ajax technologies. Based on a set of relational table matching rules, the software generates a formatted, visual representation of a MySQL database and an interactive, dynamically-generated tool for entering and managing rich database content.

The DBG is assumed to be a complement to and an extension of the already existing PHPMyAdmin (PMA) software. PMA is an open-sourced MySQL management tool, which allows a user to administer MySQL database using the web browser. The DBG considerably changed and increased the speed of development time of Vectors’ projects, and allowed Vectors’ fellows and developers to re-imagine and recreate their scholarship in new expressive modes by using the tool as means for idea management. In another way round, backend software architectures can be very useful for content-design or theory-making tool if properly managed and accessed.

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