February 13, 2004
A Publication of the Internet Scout Project
Computer Sciences Department, University of Wisconsin-Madison
- Accessibility in Distance Education
- British Library: Caxton's Chaucer
- Postmodern Culture
- World Bank: Globalization
- USGS National Water-Quality Assessment Program
- Free GIS Data
- PBS: In Search for Shakespeare
- Canada e-Book -- Statistics Canada
- The Library of Congress: The Zora Neale Hurston Plays
- The Ad Council: Campaigns That Have Made a Difference
- Campfire Stories with George Catlin
- Modern Language Association: What's the Word?
- TLC.com: The Lost Ark
- Bright Lights Film Journal
In the January 9th issue of the Scout Report, a software package called "Free History Cleaner" was reviewed. It has since been brought to our attention that this package may install additional unwanted software intended to display advertisements (AKA "adware") along with the intended functionality, and that the "uninstall" feature of the software may not remove all of this unwanted software. The Internet Scout Project would like to apologize to our readers for any inconvenience caused by this review. While Scout editors strive to research and report on the very best the web has to offer, sometimes problems like this can slip through; thus, caution and regular backups are always in order when installing any new software package. Information on removing Free History Cleaner (and the associated adware) can be found at: http://www.kephyr.com/spywarescanner/library/freehistorycleaner/ Our thanks to the readers who brought this issue to our attention.
The fourth issue of the third volume of the MET Report is available. Its Topic in Depth section offers Web sites and comments about GIS.
As more and more universities and colleges continue to experiment with various forms of distance education, there is a heightened sense of responsibility that various online materials be accessible to those persons with disabilities. The Access in Distance Education (ADE) website, supported by the NEC Foundation of America and Verizon Foundation, has been designed to "meet the needs of faculty teaching students with disabilities in the online environment." Based in the Office of Distance Education and Lifelong Learning at the University of Maryland, the site both explains accessibility problems that may be faced by students with disabilities and also helps them develop solutions within their course websites. The site is divided into a number of sections, dealing with topic such as What is accessibility?, Legal Issues, Understanding Disabilities and a How-to section. The section devoted to legal issues spells out the legislation that requires faculty members to provide such assistance, and also offers a brief five question quiz to test their working knowledge about such laws. In terms of pragmatic information, the Best Practices area of the site contains several well-honed examples of how to adapt various course materials for effective use by those with disabilities. [KMG]
Email: web form
Buried in Poets Corner in Westminster Abbey, Geoffrey Chaucer was responsible for the much-loved Canterbury Tales, a clutch of stories (many of them quite bawdy and frank in their depiction of life in the medieval period) told by pilgrims on their journey to the holy site of Canterbury in Kent. This rather engaging website presented by the British Library features two rather famous editions of the Tales, as published by William Caxton in Britain around the year 1476 and 1483. Before taking a look at the works themselves, visitors may want to peruse the Background section which discusses Caxton's life, or take a look at a timeline that offers some historical perspective on Chaucer and these different printed versions of this immensely popular work. Of course, visitors must take a look at the two versions of the Tales offered here, which include full-text transcripts, a page enlargement function, and of course, printable versions of each page. [KMG]
Somehow it is not surprising that a journal titled Postmodern Culture would find a home on the Internet, which itself is a bricoleur of many different forms and styles, akin to the very notion of postmodernism. Located online since 1990, Postmodern Culture "has become the leading electronic journal of interdisciplinary thought on contemporary cultures." The journal itself is published by The Johns Hopkins University Press, with assistance by the University of Virginia and Vassar College. Visitors to the site can browse the entire contents of the current volume, and may browse through the text-only archive, which is also made available here. The current edition contains pieces by Chris Bongie titled "Exiles on Main Stream: Valuing the Popularity of Postcolonial Literature" and a trenchant exchange by Leonard Wilcox and Brad Butterfield on "Baudrillard, September 11, and the Haunting Abyss of Reversal." [KMG]
The word globalization is thrown around with reckless abandon by numerous parties these days, and as a result, the very notion of such a force is somewhat elusive. While this website from the World Bank may not end all of the fierce academic and pragmatic debates that rage on about globalization, it does offers some perspective from this organization on this wide-ranging phenomenon. The site itself contains audio and video selections, issue briefs, a data and statistics section, and an area dedicated to current research on the subject underway by the World Bank. The issue briefs are definitely worth a look as they address such questions as What is Globalization? and Does More International Trade Openness Increase World Poverty? The selection of videos is also quite nice, particularly a recent talk by Michael Moore (the former director-general of the World Trade Organization) entitled Globalization & Development: Its Implications & Institutions. [KMG]
Since its inception in 1991, the USGS National Water-Quality Assessment (NAWQA) program has been collecting and analyzing data about more than 50 major river basins and aquifers across the United States. The core mission is "to develop long-term consistent and comparable information on streams, ground water, and aquatic ecosystems to support sound management and policy decisions." Visitors can begin by selecting one of over 50 research sites from a drop-down menu of states, or by looking at research activities by river basin. The main homepage for the NAWQA also contains a section that explains how and why water quality varies across the country by discussing the various elements, such as pesticides and nutrients, that contribute to the quality of various water sources. Of course, the site also features a number of more technical reports on water quality, including detailed information about each basin area. As might be expected, the site also offers a glossary of frequently used terms within the fields of water chemistry and hydrology, and also contains a What's New section that contains announcements about the release of new reports, fact sheets, and upcoming conferences of note. [KMG]
This online resource for GIS and geospatial data has compiled data from a wide range of GIS Web sites located on the Internet. Some of the data is free once you set up a user account to be part of the GeoCommunity, with additional data available for a fee using the Premium option. Downloading may require the user to be proficient in GIS and own relevant software. Download options include: Digital Raster Graphic (DRG) Data, USGS Digital elevation Models (DEM), Digital Orthophotos (DOQ/DOQQ), and FEMA Flood Data. Bundles of data available for purchase include: VECTOR MAP (VMap) Level 1, National Wetlands Inventory, TIGER Data & U.S. Census Resources, data by individual states in the U.S. as well as data on countries around the globe. The majority of the datasets are in ARC/INFO E00, SHP, DLG, TIGER, and DEM formats. [VF] This site is also reviewed in the February 13, 2004 NSDL MET Report.
Ben Jonson's now legendary epitaph for William Shakespeare ("He was not of an age, but for all time"), has become part of the common lore surrounding the man who is arguably the most famous playwright of all time. Numerous documentaries exist focusing on the Immortal Bard, but this new four-part series from PBS (with this accompanying website), represents the first time that a full-scale life of William Shakespeare has been attempted on TV. There's a great deal on the site of interest, but it's perhaps best to start with the Shakespeare Dossier, which has been painstakingly researched by the documentary's investigative team. Through this rather comprehensive timeline, users will be able to learn about the key details that shaped Shakespeare's life, and follow hypertext links to learn about the places and people that were an integral part of the his life as well. As users explore the timeline, they will notice additional clickable icons above the main timeline, allowing them access to a glossary of relevant terms from the Elizabethan period, links to full-text versions of the Bard's works, and an interactive map of 16th century England. Along with these many delightful features, visitors simply must try the Playwright Game feature, where they are swept into the heady world of the 16th century playwrighting world, and must make hard decisions about the central themes of their various plays. The site concludes with a multitude of educational resources for teachers seeking to inculcate an appreciation of Shakespeare in their students. [KMG]
While it would be hard to adequately encapsulate one country in a single website, the Canadian government offers a nice introduction to the diversity within itself through the Canada e-book homepage. The site is divided into four primary sections: The Land, The People, The Economy, and The State. Clicking on each one of these sections brings users to a list of detailed subtopics. Each subtopic contains a brief essay offering a broad overview of such areas as primary industries, the climate, and trade. Although this is not an uncommon approach for this type of site, these textual materials are supplemented by a toolbar above each essay containing icons that, when clicked, will bring up supplemental tables, graphs, further reading materials, audio clips, and photographs. Some of these audio clips include reflections on the educational structure of Canada, indigenous peoples, and Canada's different cultural traditions, such as the innovative Cirque du Soleil. [KMG]
With a title that references the current (yet ever-increasing) world population, Sixbillion.org is officially "an online magazine of narrative journalism," yet it offers quite a lot more by virtue of its ambit. Sponsored by individual donations, the magazine was founded by Nathan Duel and Kelly McEvers, and as yet has just two issues. The theme of the second issue (which is currently featured on the site) is Veterans of Foreign Wars, and is divided into six pieces, each one represented by a particular medium of expression (i.e. text, film or video, sound, illustration, and so on). Specifically, there is a photo essay by Chris Sims (who follows a U.S. Army recruiter in North Carolina), a moving film by Rithy Panh who confronts a Cambodian rice farmer who led executions during the reign of the Khmer Rouge, and an interactive feature on the practices surrounding the deaths of Palestinian shaheeds -- or martyrs in the Middle East. Wholly engrossing, the site also features a place where visitors may sign up to receive email updates. [KMG]
The Library of Congress presents digital versions of ten plays written by Zora Neale Hurston (1891-1960) that were deposited at the U.S. Copyright Office between 1925 and 1944, and remained unpublished and mostly unproduced until they were rediscovered in 1997. Play titles such as De Turkey and de Law: A Comedy in Three Acts; Lawing and Jawing; and Polk County: A Comedy of Negro Life on a Sawmill Camp with Authentic Negro Music all reflect Hurston's life experience, travels, and especially her study of folklore in the African-American South. The web version consists of seven-hundred pages of images, so users see the original typescript plays, as well as a hand-drawn stage set in one of the plays -- Spunk, act 1, scene 2. Browse by title, or perform a keyword search across bibliographic records for the plays. There is also an illustrated chronology of Hurston's life, and links to other Hurston materials at Library of Congress. [DS]
Since 1942, the Ad Council has created some of the most enduring public service advertisements. The advertisements have manifested themselves on television, the radio, and in print, and some of these campaigns have become icons that have lasted many decades. Their campaigns have also introduced some rather familiar slogans into American culture, such as Smokey Bear's Only You can Prevent Forest Fires and Friends Don't Let Friends Drive Drunk. At this website, visitors can peruse a list of milestones in Ad Council History, which include such events as the launch of the first campaign (for war savings bonds) in 1942 and the introduction of Vince and Larry, the crash-test dummies in 1985. Along with viewing print ads for these (and many more) campaigns, visitors can also view some well-known television spots, including those dealing with AIDS and McGruff the Crime Dog. [KMG]
Understanding the broad legacy left by various interpreters of the Native American way of life, such as artist George Catlin or the photographer Edward S. Curtis, can be puzzling and rather difficult at times. Drawing on the fine collection of paintings and sketches by Catlin held by the Smithsonian American Art Museum, this multifaceted online exhibit and educational tool offers interpretations and commentary on Catlin's artworks from a diverse set of individuals, including those of curator Peter Matthiessen, Emery Battis (reading Catlin's own words), and several contemporary Native American leaders and artists. The site is divided into four thematic sections, including one on the conflict between the European American concept of land as contrasted with the communal resource approach taken by Native Americans. Each of these sections includes a selection of carefully selected works by Catlin, and audio commentaries by art historians, contemporary Native Americans (such as Wilma Man Killer, the first female chief of the Cherokee Nation), and of course, Catlin himself, whose words are narrated by Emery Battis. Other real gems available here include digitized images of Catlin's notebooks, which include transcripts of each page. [KMG]
Sponsored by the Modern Language Association, the What's the Word? Radio program was first broadcast in April 1997, and is now aired in thirty states and carried overseas by Armed Forces Radio and Radio New Zealand. The aim of the program is "to show how the study of language and literature enriches people's lives." Visitors to this site can browse previous programs by date, or by the last name of participants on the show over the past few years. The shows themselves have quite interesting themes such as those past programs on coming-of-age narratives, Anglophone Canadian writers, movie versions of Hamlet, and food in literature. The list of participants from past programs is quite impressive, and has included such luminaries as Robert Scholes, Angela Y. Davis, and Houston Baker.
From its very emergence within the pages of the Old Testament, the Ark of the Covenant has been imbued with a certain enigmatic quality and has subsequently been the subject of more than a few fervent searches, including one that took place within a rather speculative major Hollywood movie. This interesting website from The Learning Channel takes visitors through the Ark's interesting history and construction, and (of course), discusses the myriad theories about where the Ark may be today. The site also includes an interactive feature where visitors may learn more about how the Ark may have functioned as an ancient electrical device, and a virtual tour of King Solomon's Temple, which served as the home of the Ark. The site is rounded out by a selection of related website links. [KMG]
Initially started as a print journal in 1974, the online publication of Bright Lights Film Journal began in 1996, and continues to today. As noted on its site, the journal is "a popular-academic hybrid of movie analysis, history, and commentary, looking at classic and commercial, independent, exploitation, and international film from a wide range of vantage points from the aesthetic to the political." The journal is edited by Gary Morris, and contains pieces by a number of persons, including independent writers, film critics, and freelance journalists. While users can browse the archives dating back to 1996, the articles are also thematically organized on a sidebar on the homepage. These themes include Animation, Hong Kong Films, Documentaries, and Film Noir. The interviews section is quite strong, and contains candid pieces with Frederico Fellini, Robert Wise, and John Woo. [KMG]
From those who have yet to compile a set of photographs from the holiday season, this nice application may be just the tool for teh job. This edition of Photo2Album allows users to create email-sized photo albums with ease. This free edition does come with some restrictions, primarily that only five pages can be created within each album, and only three sets of email-sized photo albums can be created in total. That being said, the program is still quite useful, and the website also includes a short demonstration of how the application works and several sample albums for consideration. Photo2Album Free Edition 8.03 is compatible with all systems running Windows 98 and higher. [KMG]
Books 2.0.2 is a good application for those out there seeking to add some sense of order to their extensive collection of books. Using this application, users can store, sort, and search their own virtual card catalog of their personal library. The application makes it simple to enter new books, edit the information of older books, and sort the books by various attributers, such as title or author. Books 2.0.2 is compatible with all systems running Mac OS X 10.3 or higher. [KMG]
Tiny Loans Trigger Big Change in Rural Bangladesh
Microcredit Summit Starts February 16
Palli Karma-Sahayak Foundation (PKSF)
Microcredit Summit Campaign [pdf]
Grameen-Banking for the Poor
The End of Poverty: An Interview with Muhammad Yunus
In 1976, Dr. Muhammad Yunus lent a small amount of money (approximately $27) to a group of 42 women near his home in the port city of Chittagong in Bangladesh. Out of this rather inauspicious beginning, the roots were planted for the Grameen Bank (Grameen means village in Bengali), an organization that has made over $4 billion in small loans to poor Bangladeshis in an effort to provide credit, or more accurately microcredit, to persons unable to receive this type of assistance from traditional banks. The Grameen Bank is in the spotlight this week as a high-profile regional summit on micocredit (which will feature visits from Queen Sofia of Spain and talks by Dr. Yunus), is convened in Dhaka on February 16. The summit on microcredit will involve serious discussion about how to bring 100-million poor persons around the world under the microfinance program by the year 2005. While Dr. Yunus has been criticized by some in the banking community as merely performing a type of glorified charity work, he remains confident about his rather successful efforts noting, "I don't care if the rich get rich. It doesn't bother me. They should get richer. I'm worried about the poor getting poorer and not getting richer."
The first link leads to a recent news story from The New Nation newspaper about the continued efforts of the Grameen Bank to improve the lives of the rural poor throughout Bangladesh. The second link leads to a news piece from The Daily Star about the upcoming microcredit summit that commences on February 16 in Dhaka. The third link will take visitors to the homepage of the Palli Karma-Sahayek Foundation, which was set up by the Bangladeshi government in 1990 in order to assist in the alleviation of persistent poverty. The Foundation is also responsible for organizing the upcoming Asia Pacific Regional Microcredit Summit, and ample information on this important event is provided here as well. The fourth link will take visitors to the homepage of the Microcredit Summit Campaign, which is dedicated to providing credit assistance to 100-million of the world's poorest families by 2005. Additionally, visitors can read the most recent "State of the Microcredit Summit Campaign" Report here at their leisure. The fifth link leads to the homepage of the Grameen Bank, and provides detailed updates about the progress of its work and overall mission. The final link provided here will take visitors to an extended interview with Dr. Muhammad Yunus conducted by Sarah Van Galder of the Global Vision group. [KMG]
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The Scout Report (ISSN 1092-3861) is published weekly by Internet Scout
Internet Scout Project Team Max Grinnell Editor John Morgan Managing Editor Rachael Bower Co-Director Edward Almasy Co-Director Nathan Larson Contributor Valerie Farnsworth Contributor Debra Shapiro Contributor Rachel Enright Contributor Todd Bruns Internet Cataloger Barry Wiegan Software Engineer Justin Rush Technical Specialist Michael Grossheim Technical Specialist Andy Yaco-Mink Website Designer
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