The Scout Report -- Volume 9, Number 26

July 4, 2003

A Publication of the Internet Scout Project
Computer Sciences Department, University of Wisconsin-Madison

In This Issue:

NSDL Scout Reports

Research and Education

General Interest

Network Tools

In The News

NSDL Scout Reports

NSDL Scout Report for Math, Engineering, and Technology
The thirteenth issue of the second volume of the MET Report is available. Its Topic in Depth section offers Web sites and comments about Biologically-Inspired Technology.
[Back to Contents]

Research and Education

First Amendment Center [pdf]
Developed in conjunction with Vanderbilt University, this site features excellent research coverage of key First Amendment issues and topics; along with a library of related materials and analyses provided by legal specialists who deal with the five freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment. The research materials available here are organized (appropriately enough) under the freedoms articulated by the First Amendment, including speech, press, religious liberty, assembly and petition. Within each of these broad thematic areas, there are a number of subtopics, such as free speech on public college campuses, workplace religious liberty, blue laws, and the rights of prisoners. One particularly nice feature is the inclusion of the "State of the First Amendment" survey reports, which have been conducted since 1997. Within this section, visitors can view the entire report, and also take a look at additional documents archived here, such as the 2002 report on "Comedy and Freedom of Speech." This site will certainly be of great interest to legal scholars, or those with an incipient interest in issues surrounding the First Amendment. [KMG]
[Back to Contents]

Percent Plans in College Admissions: A Comparative Analysis of Three States' Experiences [pdf]
Given the recent Supreme Court decision regarding the use of affirmation action polices in granting admission to the University of Michigan, this research paper, written by Catherine L. Horn and Stella M. Flores at Harvard University's Civil Rights Project, is both timely and important for those interested in higher education policy and the future of similar programs within institutions of higher learning. This particular 78-page report looks closely at the "percent plans" (by which a certain percent of the highest performing graduates of each high school within a given state are admitted to public universities) as a "response to the end of race-conscious affirmative action." The report hones in on Texas, California, and Florida, and draws on data from state agencies, the National Center for Education Statistics, interviews, and the U.S. Census. In the conclusion to their executive summary, the authors note that, "In the best of circumstances they (percent plans) have only been able to promote racial and ethnic diversity on campuses when they are coupled with recruitment, outreach, financial aid, and support programs targeted at underrepresented communities with large minority student populations." [KMG]
[Back to Contents]

West Point Bridge Design Contest [exe, pdf]
The second annual West Point Bridge Design Contest concluded in May 2003. Although it is uncertain whether the contest will receive funding for future competitions, its Web site has a number of educational resources for middle and high school students. The main feature is the bridge design software, which allows the user to "model, test, and optimize a steel highway bridge, based on realistic specifications, constraints, and performance criteria." Completed designs can be submitted online for unofficial judging. The book, Designing and Building File-Folder Bridges, can also be freely downloaded. This site is also reviewed in the July 4, 2003 NSDL MET Report. [CL]
[Back to Contents]

The Impact of Collaborative Planning on Governance Capacity [pdf]
The question of institutional effectiveness and the efficacy of institutions to respond quickly to the forces that underlie globalization have piqued the interest of many scholars and pundits, particularly after the events of 9/11. In this 27-page working paper from the Institute of Urban and Regional Development at Berkeley, Professor Judith E. Innes and David E. Booher look at the ability of institutions to effectively build capacity, how this capacity can be utilized to create meaningful change within governance, and how this capacity might also aid in collaborative planning schemes. As they note in their introduction, "This paper is concerned with governance and how some new forms of collaborative dialogue, policy making, and action are filling the gaps left as our formal institutions of government are failing to carry out their responsibilities or where no agency has jurisdiction." The paper goes on to describe how several different theories may be applied in order to rectify these situations in which complex governance and policy decisions seem to remain inadequately addressed. [KMG]
[Back to Contents]

American Women: A Gateway to Library of Congress Resources for the Study of Women's History and Culture in the United States
In 2001 the Library of Congress created the print publication, "American Women: A Library of Congress Guide for the Study of Women's History and Culture in the United States." The guide was recently redesigned for online use with the addition of illustrations and links to existing digitized material in order to provide a small sample of the Library's vast holdings in this area. As such, the site is not a collection of digital items, but rather an introduction (and a very thorough one) to those researchers working in the area of American women's history. Along with the guide, the home page provides information that will help researchers planning to do on-site research at the Library of Congress, tips on searching for women's history resources in the catalogs, and information about Web broadcasts from events sponsored by the Library that are available through different Web sites. Some of the more recent broadcasts that are available include Amy Shapiro's discussion of her biography of the New Jersey Congresswoman, Millicent Fenwick, and a talk with Ann Hoog (a folk life specialist at the Library of Congress) about the "man-on-the-street" interviews conducted after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. [KMG]
[Back to Contents]

The Hemingway Resource Center [RealOne Player]
Ernest Hemingway is perhaps one of the most celebrated, and at times, most reviled, American authors of the twentieth century; but his prodigious body of work continues to be the subject of heated debate and great admiration. While this particular site does contain some commercial advertisements, it also contains an extended biographical essay on Hemingway, several bibliographies, and a FAQ section that answers some often asked questions about certain aspects of his life and writings. The site also contains a multimedia section that, while only containing one item, is worth a look. That piece is a clip of Hemingway reading an excerpt of his Nobel Prize acceptance speech, which includes the line where he notes that, "Writing, at its best, is a lonely life." The links section rounds out the site, providing numerous related Web sites of note, such as those to the Hemingway Society site, and a link to an online tour of Hemingway's home in Key West. [KMG]
[Back to Contents]

Law in Mexico Before the Conquest
While first-hand accounts of legal practices within Mayan and Aztec society are almost non-existent, this fine online exhibit produced by the Tarlton Law Library staff at the University of Texas documents some of what is currently known about the law in Mexico before the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors. The exhibit draws on several well-known sources, such as the History of the Things of New Spain (written by the Franciscan missionary Fray Bernardino de Sahagun) and the Codex Mendoza, a report to the Spanish crown about its new land holdings in the New World. The topics covered by the exhibit include the practice of tribute, property law, slavery, and, of course, punishment. Each section features a brief overview of the featured theme, along with illustrations from documents such as the Codex Mendoza. The exhibit concludes with a selection of relevant links, including an excellent bibliography of resources on Aztec and Maya law compiled by Mike Widener, the head of Special Collections. [KMG]
[Back to Contents]

General Interest

SmARTkids [Flash]
Created especially for children by the education staff at University of Chicago's David & Alfred Smart Museum of Art, SmARTkids invites kids to experience art. The site is divided up in to four main sections: 1) Artist Studio, where the visitor can tour a photographer's studio, interview the artist, see her develop a photograph, and learn about becoming an artist, 2) LOOK and Share, which shows different ways of looking at art, such as exploring a sculpture or reading the biblical story one painting tells, 2) Art Detective, a game to match mixed up labels with the correct works of art, and 4) Art Speak, a glossary of art terms including illustrative examples and spoken pronunciations. There is a parents' section, featuring tips for using the site with children, and a teachers' area, suggesting methods to integrate SmARTkids and classroom activities. Users can also select from four background colors: Cream, apple green, peach or blue. [DS]
[Back to Contents]

BBC: Civilisations [Macromedia Flash Player]
The rise and fall of civilizations over the history of humankind is a difficult thing to accurately depict in graphic form, but this BBC online presentation is a wholly engrossing way to look at the transformation and dissemination of religions and ideologies. Guided by the presence of a virtual ant that weaves its way across the introductory screen, the screen displays a metaphorical phrase from a Persian poet: "How can an ant know the pattern of the carpet?" As the site itself notes, "Civilisations represents an attempt to exploit the Internet's strengths (i.e. user customization, evolving websites, animation, and critical user feedback." It succeeds in this enterprise, as users can customize the interactive map of the world so that they can modify the speed at which themes are displayed over time (such as the spread of Hinduism), along with focusing on any given area of the world. The interface also allows users to examine key events in the development of any given ideology or religion, including Communism and its diffusion across the world. This site is an excellent way for users of all ages to view a novel and compelling way of visually depicting the movement of various religions and ideologies. [KMG]
[Back to Contents]

The Dynamic Earth [Macromedia Flash Player]
The reason we know that glaciers covered certain areas of the globe while continental plates buckled elsewhere is because of rocks. Thanks to these gatekeepers of the past, we are better able to understand the earth's history and the present. The National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, offers this really interactive and engaging site to teach about science of the earth. The three main sections of the site include: Rocks at Earth's Surface, Rocks Below Earth's Surface, and Mining. The detailed interactive modules in each section take the visitor from learning about the different minerals that make up gneiss, granite, and feldspar, to touring three mines in the United States. As the site states, "Earth's history is written on pages of stone. Since our planet's birth 4.6 billion years ago, rocks have been continually forming and, over time, changing from one kind to another. Every rock preserves part of this ancient and ongoing story." And, this great Web site takes you through this story of the earth's history exceptionally well. Those interested in earth science, students, and teachers will surely find this site useful. And, although the best viewing is by using Flash, there is a text-only option as well. [JPM]
[Back to Contents]

Celebrating Independence Day in the United States
What the Presidents Did on the Fourth of July
With the arrival of warm weather across the United States, it must mean that one of America's most endearing holidays is close at hand: the 4th of July. The first site mentioned here is provided by the U.S. Department of State International Information Programs office, and contains a number of essays that illuminate various aspects of the American 4th of July experience. The essays cover a broad range of themes, including the iconography of the holiday, how different groups celebrate the day, and of course, 4th of July parades. Researched and developed by James Heintze, the second site offers another perspective on the holiday by detailing what each president, from George Washington to George W. Bush, have done on this particular holiday. Visitors may be interested to learn that in 1926 Calvin Coolidge was in Rapid City, South Dakota (where he was garbed in western attire), and that in 1952 Harry S. Truman spent part of the day watching the Washington Senators play baseball in old Griffith Stadium. [KMG]
[Back to Contents]

This Far by Faith: African-American Spiritual Journeys
The diverse forms and expressions of African-American faith and spirituality are sometimes underappreciated, a situation that this particular six-part documentary, developed by PBS, hopes to rectify. This Web site, a companion to "This Far by Faith," provides a host of information about these many experiences, beginning with African slaves brought to America and continuing to the present day. Visitors will want to read the introductory essay to each section, along with the timeline that accompanies each historical period of African-American religious and spiritual life. The timelines themselves are fully interactive as visitors can click on certain points to find out additional information about noteworthy events and people, such as Olaudah Equiano, who composed one of the first slave autobiographies in America. Additionally, viewers can write in with their own comments and observations and learn more about this series. [KMG]
[Back to Contents]

The Legacy of Phyllis Wattis [Macromedia Flash Reader, QuickTime]
Phyllis Wattis was a very well respected and revered patron of the arts in the Bay Area who passed away in June 2002. Her financial largesse allowed the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art to purchase numerous works of art by a number of important artists such as Rene Magritte and Piet Mondrian. Asking questions such as "How does art connect us to the artist?" and "Where do ideas for making art come from," this well designed exhibit explores numerous queries surrounding modern art through a close examination of ten pieces purchased or donated by Wattis. For each work, visitors can click on a number of questions posed by each piece and listen to curators' explanations to those inquiries along with responses to broader questions, such as "Was Magritte a Surrealist?" The site is highly interactive, and is accompanied by playful sounds that make each visit a joy. [KMG]
[Back to Contents]

Network Tools

Safari 1.0 [Macintosh Operating System]
Recently released, Safari 1.0 is a Web browser for Mac computers that features a host of compelling features. Designed to work seamlessly with Mac's OS X, Safari 1.0 has a Google search field next to the Web address, along with the Snapback feature that allows users to retrace their steps back through recently visited sites. One particularly novel feature is the ability to switch between multiple Web pages via the tab option, allowing users to see various pages in a single window. Safari 1.0 is fully compatible with all systems running Mac OS X. [KMG]
[Back to Contents]

Best Greetings 4.0 [Windows Operating System]
For those looking to send an electronic reminder to a friend or loved one for free, Best Greetings 4.0 is a nice application that is worth a visit. A number of pleasant effects can be added to each greeting card, including visual filters, animations, along with spoken text (available in English only). Additionally, a slide show can be sent along to friends, complete with text descriptions and sound effects, if desired. Best Greetings 4.0 is compatible with all systems running Windows 95 and higher. [KMG]
[Back to Contents]

In The News

National Park Service Develops Novel Way to Fund Renovation of "The Rock"
Raising Funds for Alcatraz, Park Service Sells Pieces of The Rock
The National Park Service: Alcatraz Island Best Places to Go to Prison
Human Rights Watch: Prison
United States Department of Justice: Federal Bureau of Prisons
Save The Rock
Alcatraz, which performed almost thirty years of service as a maximum security federal penitentiary, is now the focus of a new fund-raising campaign initiated by the National Park Service. As part of well-orchestrated "Save the Rock" campaign, the National Park Service has begun selling pieces of the decrepit cell house and guards' quarters. If the Park Service had not devised this rather interesting fund-raising initiative, the chips of concrete would have been ferried off the island and deposited in a landfill. All told, the effort to renovate these parts of the historic structures is going to cost approximately $7.7 million dollars, and it is hoped that this fund-raising technique will bring in around $20,000 to $40,000 a year. "The Rock" itself was built from 1909 to 1911 by military prisoners, and served as a federal penitentiary from 1933 to 1963, when it was closed by the U.S. Bureau of Prisons.

The first link leads to a news article from this Monday's San Francisco Chronicle about the recent move by the National Park Service to begin selling pieces of "The Rock" to the general public. The second link takes visitors to the National Park Service's official page featuring information about Alcatraz Island. The third site, developed by Michael Esslinger, features information about Alcatraz (including prison rosters and a long historical essay about the penitentiary and some of its more famous inmates), and a diagram of the infamous cellhouse. While many of today's maximum security prisons are hermetic affairs, sealed to the outside world, there are still several minimum security prisons that are known to be a bit more relaxed. This fourth link from profiles five of these minimum security facilities, such as Eglin in Fort Walton Beach, Florida, sometimes referred to as "Club Fed." Of course the situation in many prisons across the world is quite dire for inmates, and the fifth link from the Human Rights Watch organization documents these conditions on its site, which contains a number of well-researched reports. The sixth link leads to the home page of the Federal Bureau of Prisons, which may be of interest to those
looking for statistics and general information about the entire United States prison system. The final link will take visitors to the "Save the Rock" home page where they can read about the campaign and browse through the available merchandise. [KMG]
[Back to Contents]

Below are the copyright statements to be included when reproducing annotations from The Scout Report.

The single phrase below is the copyright notice to be used when reproducing any portion of this report, in any format:

From The Scout Report, Copyright Internet Scout Project 1994-2003.

The paragraph below is the copyright notice to be used when reproducing the entire report, in any format:

Copyright Susan Calcari and the University of Wisconsin Board of Regents, 1994-2003. The Internet Scout Project (, located in the Computer Sciences Department of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, provides information about the Internet to the U.S. research and education community under a grant from the National Science Foundation, number NCR-9712163. The Government has certain rights in this material. Permission is granted to make and distribute verbatim copies of the entire Scout Report provided this paragraph, including the copyright notice, are preserved on all copies.

Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, or the National Science Foundation.

The Scout Report (ISSN 1092-3861) is published weekly by Internet Scout

Max Grinnell -- Editor
John Morgan -- Managing Editor
Rachael Bower -- Director
Edward Almasy -- Technical Director
Joel Brieske -- Contributor
Rachel Sohmer -- Contributor
Cavin Leske -- Contributor
Meagan Lauing -- Contributor
Laura Boyle -- Contributor
Yasuhiro Sasahira -- Contributor
Debra Shapiro -- Contributor
David Sleasman -- Internet Cataloger
Colin Holden -- Assistant Internet Cataloger
Todd Scudiere -- Assistant Internet Cataloger
Barry Wiegan -- Software Engineer
Kinsey Heyerdahl -- Administrative Assistant
Justin Rush -- Technical Specialist
Michael Grossheim -- Technical Specialist
Andy Yaco-Mink -- Website Designer
David Mayer -- Website Designer

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