Best of the Scout Report for 2014

Internet Scout Report — Best of The Scout Report

The Scout Report
An Internet Scout Publication.

May 30, 2014 Best of The Scout Report

The Internet Scout staff takes pride in providing links to some of the best online resources in our weekly Scout Report. Although all of the resources we cover are valuable, inevitably some stand out from the pack. In this year's 'Best of' issue, we share some of our favorite sites from the past academic year. The process of choosing which sites to include was not easy, as the interests of our staff vary as much as those of our readers. Whether it is the design of the site, the fascinating content, or its classroom usability, Scout staff all have different rationale for preferring one online resource over another. Nevertheless, we were able to produce a top ten list that we could all agree on and that also featured some reader favorites as well.

We hope you enjoy this list, and take a few minutes to revisit some of our favorite sites from 2013–2014. As always, we look forward to providing new batches of fantastic resources throughout the upcoming year.

In This Issue

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Reader Favorites

National Center for Science Education: Publications & Media

At the Scout Report, we are all about the continued promotion of science education in the classroom and apparently our readers are, too. This website from the National Center for Science Education (NCSE) was the most shared resource by Scout Report readers this past year and details a variety of publications reporting on climate change and the creationism/evolution controversy. The site specifically caught our interest with its substantial archive of "Reports of the National Center for Science Education," or RNCSE. There are many free excerpts to read and it's a fun way to trace the evolution of these popular and significant debates.

The National Center for Science Education (NCSE) works to provide information and advice as "the premier institution dedicated to keeping evolution and climate change in the science classroom." The Publications & Media area contains a range of NCSE reports, videos, special publications, and links to in-house blogs. Interested parties may wish to sign up for the "Evolution Education Update," which is a weekly email newsletter that recaps the key stories of the week related to evolution education. The site also contains the complete run of the "Creation/Evolution Journal," which was published from 1980 to 1996. Visitors shouldn't miss the NCSE Reports area, which contains about two dozen reports on key topics, including the teaching of evolution in schools and "Intelligent Design Theory."

Iowa Maps Digital Collection

Lovers of all things historical, a number of us at the Scout Report could not get enough of the Iowa Maps Digital Collection. As the second-most shared resource this past year, it's clear that our readers enjoyed it too! The Iowa Digital Library allows interested parties to whiz through years of Iowa history, even providing a clickable map of specific counties. The site impressed us with its varied archive of cartography and clear browsing parameters, as well as the option allowing users to download or print the maps at home.

The Iowa Digital Library has done the cartographically inclined a great service by digitizing hundreds of maps from the Hawkeye State's grand and glorious past. On the homepage, visitors will be treated to a moveable feast of maps, including one of Scott County from 1875, a stylized map of the University of Iowa campus from 1943, and an official railroad commissioners map of the state from 1915. Visitors can browse the maps by state, county, township, town, or country via a series of drop-down menus. Additionally, visitors can browse all of the maps by time period, advertisements, publisher, or contributing institution. Persons with an interest in the history of cartography, United States history, or other related subjects will want to make multiple visits to this site.

Whaling History: Laura Jernegan, Girl on a Whaleship

It's not hard to see why this whale of a tale was the third most shared resource by our readers. This well crafted site provides a window into the life of a young girl on a whaling ship in the 1800s. One of our favorite aspects of the site is the option to read Laura's journal in her original handwriting, allowing readers to watch her penmanship develop and steady as her journey progressed over the years. Educators and students will also love to explore the map, artifacts, and ship features in order to get a better sense of what life must have been like for this young girl, who affectionately signs off each journal entry with, "Good by for today."

In October 1868, 6 year old Laura Jernegan from Edgartown, Massachusetts set out on a three year whaling voyage with her family and the ship's crew to the whaling grounds of the Pacific Ocean. Her story lives on today via her fabulous journal which has been digitized and placed online here, courtesy of the Martha's Vineyard Museum. The site's interface includes a "Magic Lens," an innovative tool that allows readers to see typed text superimposed over Laura's handwriting by mousing over the section of interest. First-time visitors should click on Laura's Story to learn about her life story via photographs, journal entries and what happened to her after her return. The Map of Whaling is a great way to to learn about Laura's journey, major ocean currents, migration patterns, and other major whaling routes. For folks with an interest in visual culture, the Artifacts area contains dozens of items that one would have found on a whaling ship, including a small water cask, serving mallets, waif flags, and several sextants.

Staff Favorites


MakeUseOf is a Scout favorite as it provides a large amount of relevant tech news in an organized and digestible way. We especially enjoy the Top List, a section of the site dedicated to the best apps, games, and services from across the web. The collection of Ebooks is incredibly helpful for those readers looking to learn more about current online resources like Pinterest and Spotify. In general, MakeUseOf is the perfect blend of format and content allowing readers to become a little more tech-savvy.

MakeUseOf brings together thoughtful, fun, irreverent, and generally useful web tools, tutorials, podcasts, and other helpful resources from across the web. First-time visitors can get a sense of the items here by scrolling through the homepage, which includes short articles such as "You Didn't Know You Could Do These 5 Awesome Smartphone Camera Tricks" and "3 Little-Known Android Apps to Keep Your Files and Folders Organized." Visitors can search the articles by Topics, Top List, or via the embedded search feature. The Podcasts section is a real treat as it contains over 100 recent Technophilia podcasts that cover everything from mobile currency to small business apps

Finding Our Place in the Cosmos: From Galileo to Sagan and Beyond

Scout staff and readers ponder the same questions about the cosmos that many great minds have sought to answer long before us. This resource is a collection of items that look into the lives and minds of the great thinkers in the field. They range from Galileo and Copernicus to Carl Sagan. With the release of the television series "Cosmos," we feel that we are unofficially in the year of Carl Sagan! The artifacts in this collection offer a unique and personal look into his life and career.

What happens up in the sky? Astronomers know, as do physicists, and they love to tell people about it. This collection from the Library of Congress brings together hundreds of items from the papers of the late Carl Sagan. The collection includes three primary sections that present models of the cosmos throughout history, the history of the possibility of life on other worlds, and information about Sagan's life and contributions to science and society. The Life on Other Worlds area is a real delight as it features early science fiction books as well as pop-culture items that include sheet music and movie posters. Within Articles and Essays, there are elegant pieces including, "Astronomical Innovation in the Islamic World" and "Galileo and the Telescope." All told, there are 331 items in this collection ranging from periodicals to audio recordings to wonderful home movies documenting Sagan's boyhood.

Atlas of the Historical Geography of the United States

Maps and atlases are items of great interest for many of us at the Scout Report. So when we came across this atlas that not only presented the cartographic history of the United States but also featured the latest interactive technology, we were ecstatic. The website offers many different entry points for visitors to explore the substantial collection of digitized maps, with the time-lapse feature being a clear favorite. We are excited to see the many ways this resource can be integrated into classroom curriculum or activities by our readers.

The Digital Scholarship Lab (DSL) of the University of Richmond has recently created a digital version of a wonderful historical atlas: Charles O. Paullin and John K. Wright's 1932 Atlas of Historical Geography of the United States. Reproducing nearly 700 maps, this digitization project has enhanced the original collection and added the dramatic functionality of 21st century technology, including an amazing zoom feature. Brave visitors can start directly by Entering the Atlas, while the more cautious can view an introductory video or read over the chapter titles to find specific areas of interest. There is much to peruse, including sections on The Natural Environment and Explorations in the West and Southwest, 1535-1852. A number of maps within these sections, such as "French Explorations in the West 1673-1794," even allow for time-lapse animation. This site is a great find, especially for educators, historians, geographers, and the general map enthusiast.

Butterick's Practical Typography

While simple in its presentation, Butterick's Practical Typography is perhaps the most clear and useful resource for understanding text as its own art form. Simply stated, typography is the visual component of the written word and this site is a wonderful tool for those who work with words on an everyday basis. It offers helpful reminders and even teaches those who may have never heard of the field before. We appreciate the straightforward prose, the option of a condensed 10-minute version, easy site navigation, and the numerous sample documents that put theory into practice.

This website begins with an introductory statement that will ring true to most folks: "If you work with information and ideas, then writing plays a central role in your professional life." Butterick's Practical Typography offers up sage and thoughtful advice about how typography can be used to enhance and illuminate good prose. Visitors who might be pressed for time can look over the "Typography in Ten Minutes" area to get a sense of some bedrock principles introduced in the work. For those with more time, the complete work is also available here, along with a Summary of Key Rules and the all-important Why Typography Matters area. Visitors shouldn't miss the Sample Documents area which contains sample formatting suggestions and more for research papers, letterheads, resumes, and websites.

World Food Clock

The Scout Staff keeps an eye out for sites that are both informative and interactive, and the World Food Clock does not disappoint. A true feat of graphic design, we loved this site for its innovative and effective presentation of information. The World Food Clock succeeds in providing relevant statistics in an easily digestible manner, with clean and informative visual representations. Likewise, the navigation is both fun and functional, allowing the user to have a stimulating learning experience about global consumption and production.

How much food is being consumed around the world right now? It's a vast question that can be answered by the World Food Clock. This interesting website draws on information provided by the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) of the United Nations and presents a streaming set of data on global food consumption, global food waste, and other informative topics. It's visually arresting and users can scroll down to look through different "clocks" that track statistics such as the land used to grow wasted food and the stages of food waste, which include production, processing, and consumption. This is a wonderful tool for folks with an interest in food security, environmental studies, public health, and international relations. It could also be used in any number of design courses to illustrate a range of techniques and visualization strategies.

Nature Soundmap

The Nature Soundmap offers unique access to the untouched and diverse wildlife that spans the globe, an experience that the Scout team could not pass up. In addition to high-quality audio, we enjoyed the articles within the newsletter that detail the remarkable travel ventures behind the recording process. We also appreciated that the site devotes itself to providing the best listening experience possible, offering tips on "How to Listen" and even a form for user suggestions.

What does a humpback whale sound like? Or perhaps the White-cheeked Gibbon? The Nature Soundmap provides snippets of these sounds and much, much more. Visitors will find an interactive map of the world, complete with markers that allow audio wildlife travel from Central America to Central Asia a snap. Symphonies of animal noises can also be found here, as visitors can click on Greece to listen to "Summer Ambience" or France to find "Dawn in the Lezardrieux Forest." Each marker includes information about the animal or setting profiled, along with a link to More Info for the generally curious.

Museum of Fine Arts: Hippie Chic

What really excited us about this exhibit from Boston's Museum of Fine Arts was its ability to vividly present Hippie art and history without asking us to leave our desks. The site gives due diligence to the chaotic colors of the "hippie chic" movement, without sacrificing easy site navigation. By offering groovy music, detailed slideshows, and an interactive game, the website gives a comprehensive picture of the exhibit for those who missed it in-person or those who simply can't get enough of this virtual method of psychedelic time travel.

What did it ever mean to be a hippie and how can we accurately describe this slice of American culture and attitude more than four decades after the term was first used? The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston took on the fashions and trends of "hippie chic" with their in situ exhibit. This website is offered as a complement to that exhibit and includes interviews with curators, an exhibition preview, and a video that takes interested parties behind the scenes. In the Slideshow area, visitors can look at nine different designs from the era, including an amazing woman's jacket from 1970 that is truly celestial. Moving on to the Explore area, visitors can try the hippie chic remix and star on their own psychedelic album cover. The site also features a Spotify mix to get people thinking about the period, complete with songs like "Maggie May," "Sugar Magnolia," and "Wild World."

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Editor Max Grinnell
Managing Editor Catherine Dixon
Co-Director Edward Almasy
Co-Director Rachael Bower
Metadata Specialist Kendra Bouda
Internet Cataloger Sara Sacks
Software Engineer Corey Halpin
Web Developer Kyle Piefer
Technical Specialist Zev Weiss
Technical Specialist Tyler Stank
Administrative Coordinator Chris Wirz
Administrative Assistant Annie Ayres
Administrative Assistant Adam Schwartz
Contributor Debra Shapiro

For information on additional contributors, see the Internet Scout staff page:

If you'd like to know how the Internet Scout team selects resources for inclusion in the Scout Report, visit our "Selection Criteria" page at:

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