The Scout Report -- Volume 10, Number 35

September 3, 2004

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

NSDL Scout Reports

Research and Education

General Interest

Network Tools

In The News

NSDL Scout Reports

NSDL Scout Report for the Life Sciences and the Physical Sciences

The eighteenth issues of the third volumes of the Life Sciences Report and Physical Sciences Report are available. The Topic in Depth section of the Life Sciences Report annotates sites on Food Preservation and Home Canning. The Physical Sciences Report's Topic in Depth section offers websites and comments about the Geology of Earths Moon.

Research and Education

Institute for Social Research [pdf]

The Institute for Social Research (ISR) at the University of Michigan is one of the most well-regarded academic and social research organizations in the world, and has been in existence for more than 50 years. Employing close to one hundred researchers, the ISR informs both theoretical discussions and policy debates with its strong track record of empirical research in the disciplines of psychology, political science, economics, anthropology, and public health. The first place to visit for the uninitiated visitor to the website should probably be the centers and projects area. Here, visitors can learn about the Survey Research Center (which is well known for its Survey of Consumer Attitudes), the Research Center for Group Dynamics, and the Population Studies Center. While the site may seem a bit overwhelming, a good way to get a quick handle on the ISRs activities is by browsing through the ISR Update newsletter which can be found within the extensive News section of the site. [KMG]

American Religious Experience [pdf]

Started a few years ago by a group of like-minded academics from across the United States, The American Religious Experience project brings together a host of materials and resources for students and teachers working in the field of religious studies. Headed by Briane K. Turley of West Virginia University, the site contains a number of topical syllabi offered by various contributors from different colleges and universities dealing with a host of religious topics, including Religion in New York (After 9/11). Not surprisingly, there are a number of interesting essays available here such as those dealing with the historiography of American Pentecostalism and the problems associated with religious pluralism in the early years of American nationhood. One of the primary highlights of the site is the online archive of the Journal of Southern Religion, which visitors can browse all the way back to the first issue in 1998. [KMG]

While traveling through distant (and not-so-distant) lands for the primary purpose of discovering new plant species may not seem like everyones cup of tea, this fine website pays homage to those very intrepid souls who devoted to their life to that pursuit. The site is not solely devoted to plant explorers, although visitors will want to begin by browsing through the sections that introduce some of the key figures in the field. Visitors will be introduced to Joseph Banks, who traveled with Captain James Cook around the world and Joseph Hooker, who traversed the Himalayas collecting and identifying various plant species. Illustrated with photographs and drawings, these profiles are quite welcome, as are the feature articles on the site, which include contemporary material on the creation of the Scottish Plant Collectors Garden in Pitlochry, Scotland, and the search for the Hers Juliana Lilac by one Freek Vrugtman, who himself is the International Registrar of Lilacs. For those who may find themselves wanting to pay a visit to a botanic garden after visiting this website, the site also includes a page that lists some of the most prominent botanical gardens across the globe. [KMG]

U.S. Census Bureau: Census of Population and Housing [pdf]

While the Scout Report has cast its eye upon numerous publications of the U.S. Census Bureau over the past few years, the time has come to profile some of its very valuable historical data sets that are available to the general public. Visitors to this site can look through information and data sets on a number of censuses, including all of those conducted in the 1800s, and those from the years 1980, 1990, and 2000. Historians will find a great deal of interest here as each census section contains important information on the particulars of how each census was conducted and what types of questions were asked as well. Visitors will want to remember that each file is quite large, so they may want to be selective when considering which files to download. [KMG]

National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing [pdf]

Headquartered at UCLA, the National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing has pioneered the development of scientifically based evaluation and testing techniques during its long history. Given the recent emphasis that has been placed on the importance of education throughout the United States, this site affords visitors a true cornucopia of material about their research activities, along with policy briefs, reports, and newsletters. The materials will not just be of interest to persons involved in educational research, as there are sections devoted to providing more pragmatic information on testing and assessment both for parents and teachers. Visitors can browse the center's newsletter archive all the way back to 1991 and download over 100 reports. Finally, the site also contains contact information and biographies for staff members who work at the Center. [KMG]

Native Plants of Montara Mountain [jpeg]

It is always inspiring to find websites that have been created by a committed individual who is passionate about the site's subject. Developed by naturalist Chuck Kozak, Native Plants of Montara Mountain is just that type of website. Mr. Kozak has assembled a nice online field guide of plants native to Montara Mountain, a northern spur of California's Santa Cruz Mountains. The guide organizes plants by Family and Scientific name, Common name, or Color and Type. Site visitors can also find plants by using the alphabetically organized Master Index. The numerous plant entries include clear photos and brief descriptions. Although the website focuses on the flora of a specific area, many of these plants can be found in other geographic regions as well. [NL] This site is also reviewed in the September 3, 2004 NSDL Life Sciences Report.

Greek Grammar

While some may view ancient Greek as a dead language, this informative and edifying website proves that the language is far from dead, and that there much to be gained through close consideration of this magisterial language. Created and maintained by Professor Marc Huys, a faculty member of the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven in Belgium, the site serves as a clearinghouse of available online resources for studying ancient Greek. Throughout the sites various areas, Professor Huys has reviewed each individual resource and provided a brief description of its contents and also assigned a rating to each distinct resource. Some of these topical areas include reviews of sites on Greek fonts, systematic grammar, history of the Greek language, and dictionaries. The site is rounded out by a Whats New? area which contains information about the latest additions to the site. [KMG]

Washington Week [RealOnePlayer]

Beginning with its first program on February 23, 1967, Washington Week has provided intelligent and provocative roundtable discussion of major news events. Featured on PBS, the public affairs program has seen a number of hosts since its inception, and is currently under the direction of moderator Gwen Ifill, who has been in that position since 1999. The show is broadcast once a week, and addresses such timely topics as national security and the domestic economy. Visitors to the website can view each show in its entirety, and read transcripts of each program as well. Another nice feature of the site is Chat with Gwen, which allows visitors to chat online with Ifill once a month. If visitors are looking for certain video clips, they can also search through the video archive to find commentaries by such distinguished columnists such as David Brooks and Thomas Friedman. [KMG]

General Interest

Transportation Futuristics: A Presentation of the Harmer E. Davis Transportation Library [Macromedia Flash Reader]

The human imagination would seem to recognize few boundaries when thinking about interesting forms of transportation, especially some of the rather creative ideas (both proposed and realized) that are contained within this novel and compelling online exhibit created by the staff at the Harmer E. Davis Transportation Library at the University of California at Berkeley. Many of the futuristic designs highlighted within this exhibit were envisioned as ways to overcome existing transportation problems, such as distance, space considerations, and other key factors. The pieces of material culture (such as advertisements, design renderings, and the like) contained here are divided into several sections, such as automotive, helicopter, monorails, and the aptly named oddities area. For transportation buffs or those with an interest in the history of technology, the oddities area should not be missed. Here visitors will find an illustration of the proposed flying saucer bus and the intriguing transplanetary subway,which was supposed to have stretched from New York to Los Angeles. [KMG]

The Art of David Tudor [RealOnePlayer]

From the library at the Getty Research Institute, The Art of David Tudor is a great example of effective presentation of highlights from rich library and archival collections on the Web. The site complements a symposium held at the Getty Research Institute in 2001: "The Art of David Tudor: Indeterminacy and Performance in Postwar Culture". Born in 1926, Tudor became an internationally known pianist in the traditional arena, but gravitated to more experimental music in the 1940s, and composed and performed experimental electronic music in the 1960s and 1970s. Tudor's major works were produced collaboratively, with colleagues including John Cage and Merce Cunningham, Jackie Matisse, Bill Viola, and Karlheinz Stockhausen. The site includes a section on Tudor's collaborators; biographies and links to additional resources on over 35 artists who worked or performed with Tudor. Other main sections are: Audio and Video, where visitors can watch and listen to excerpts of Tudor's works (most of the full versions are held by the Getty Research Institute); Image Library, featuring pictures of Tudor, as well as documents such as scores and letters; a section on the symposium, and a biography of Tudor. [DS]

Beyond Geometry: Experiments in Form, 1940s to 1970s

The political and social upheaval that was pervasive throughout much of the world during the middle of the 20th century spawned a number of creative and innovative movements throughout various areas of human activity, including the visual arts. One such manifestation was the experimentation in visual forms that involved the use of radically simplified forms and systematic strategies. These developments are profiled in this nice online exhibit, created by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and supported by the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities. The very well-thought-out homepage of the exhibit contains brief introductions to each aspect of this movement (such as sections on the use of repetition and seriality), a timeline that offers information about the relevant developments within the movement across Europe, North America, and South America, and finally a glossary of terms. One real treat of the site is the Investigations area, which allows visitors to click around a series of text boxes, to uncover the multifaceted and nuanced answers to such artistic quandaries as Do words and numbers function like lines and shapes in an artwork? [KMG]

Vote: The Machinery of Democracy [Macromedia Flash Reader]

Always one with a timely exhibition that reflects both historical concerns and issues of immediate expediency, the Smithsonian National Museum of American History has created this website as the online incarnation of one of their current exhibits, Vote: The Machinery of Democracy. Through a host of relevant items (such as one of the controversial butterfly ballots used in Palm Beach County, Florida, in 2000), the exhibit examines how Americans have historically adopted improved voting techniques as a result of the political, social and technological changes in the country. The exhibit is divided into nine well-crafted sections, which includes informative retrospectives on the use of paper ballots, the variety of ways in which voters can cast their ballots, and of course, on the fractious situation of the Florida recount of 2000. A final bonus on the site is the thorough bibliography, which includes books, articles, a number of web links, and a few extra webpages on voting technology. [KMG]

Chiloe Stories [Macromedia Flash Reader]

Collaborative projects on the internet have become ubiquitous, and Chiloe Stories is certainly one of the more compelling ones that the Scout Report has found. Developed as a cooperative project between the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of North Carolina and the Faculty of Communication at the University of Andes, this multimedia documentary project tells the stories of the archipelago of Chiloe, which is located approximately 1100 kilometers south of Santiago. The project was initiated as the archipelago prepares for major change as the government of Chile prepares to join Chilo to the mainland by 2010 through the construction of the longest bridge in Latin America. Many local residents are worried that the unique cultural traditions will disappear, will others believe that it will be an effective form of economic development. There are 12 segments altogether on the site, and some of them include an exploration of the mythology of Chiloe and the life of traditional fisherpeople in the region. All told, this is an engaging site that draws the visitor into the many realities and lived experiences of this clutch of islands off the coast of South America. [KMG]

USA For UNHCR [pdf]

The situation for refugees around the world is frequently a desperate one, and one that continues to be a concern of a number of international organizations, such as the World Bank and others. One such organization is USA for UNHCR, which is dedicated to raising the consciousness of Americans about the work and accomplishments of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). For those who may not be immediately familiar with their work, the UNHCR is responsible for protecting over 20 million people worldwide, including refugees, internally displaced people, and former refugees who are hoping to return their homes. On the organization's site, visitors can learn about volunteer opportunities, World Refugee Day, and read news updates about both its humanitarian work and the situation of various refugee populations. [KMG]

Network Tools

OmniWeb 5.0

Every week, a number of new web browsers are released to the general public. Some of them are good, some are fair, and some are rather poor. Fortunately, OmniWeb 5 seems to be a pretty fine bet, as it contains some good features that are worth taking a look at. First of all, OmniWeb allows users to save workspaces containing related windows that they have browsed and also features built-in RSS news feeds. Additionally, the program comes with an in-place HTML source editor and a spellchecking feature. This version is compatible with all systems running Mac OS X. It should be noted that this version of OmniWeb is a trial version that is free for 30 days. [KMG]

GroupSpace 0.2.0

The Internet can serve as a communal gathering place, where like-minded community members can come together to discuss various pressing issues, share documents, take polls, and engage in the decision-making process as well. A recent project, GroupSpace, started at Stanford University as part of a research partnership with a local community organization, allows groups of individuals to do all of the above. As their mission statement suggests, the creation of the program is to support the type of deliberation critical to the functioning of smaller, informal organizations in civil society. It should be noted that this version of GroupSpace is a beta version. [KMG]

In The News

Humanitarian crisis continues to grow in the Sudan

U.N.: Increase Troops for Sudan Now,1280,-4466923,00.html
Darfur's displaced remain traumatized and at risk of rape, harassment
Q&A: Sudan's Darfur Conflict
Sudanese Media Center
Sudan: Conflict in Darfur [pdf]
Sudan: Interview with Al Zhawi Ibrahim Malik

This week the already grave situation in the western region of the Sudan (known as Darfur) continued to grow even worse, as the United Nations called for a larger international monitoring force to quell attacks on civilians by members of the Arab militia in the country. In a report made to the U.N. Security Council this week, Secretary-General Kofi Annan remarked that such a monitoring force was necessary in order to help "decrease the level of violence and enhance the protection of the civilian population". The origins of the crisis date back to February 2003 when two African rebel factions brought arms in order to protest alleged discrimination by the largely Arab-dominated government located in the nation's capital at Khartoum. The tension has complex roots, but some of the problems are centered around disputes dealing with land and grazing rights between the nomadic Arabs in the region and farmers from the Fur, Massaleet and Zagawa ethnic groups. Since the conflict started last year, close to one million people have fled their homes and approximately 50,000 people have been killed.

The first link will take visitors to a news article from the Guardian that offers a report on the recent call from the United Nations to increase the international monitoring force in the Sudan. The second link leads to a news brief from the U.N. News Centre that talks about the precarious situation of those displaced residents of the Darfur region. The third link provided by the BBC answers a host of questions about the current situation in the Darfur region, including helpful background information about the various groups involved. The fourth link leads to the homepage of the Sudanese Media Centre, where visitors may find editorial pieces, browse through special reports, and read their various press releases. The fifth link leads to an informative report from June 2004 prepared for the House of Commons in the British Parliament on the conflict in Darfur. The final link will take visitors to the transcript of a recent interview conducted by the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs with Al Zhawi Ibrahim, who serves as the Minister for Information and Communications for the Sudan. In the interview, he speaks about the postwar challenges that will face the country, and of course, the situation in Darfur. [KMG]

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