The Scout Report -- Volume 10, Number 44

November 5, 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 Math, Engineering, and Technology

The twenty-third issue of the third volume of the MET Report is available. Its Topic in Depth section offers websites and comments about The Internet and Civic Life.

Research and Education

Brooklyn Botanic Garden: New York Metropolitan Flora Project [pdf]

Started in 1990, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden began a rather ambitious project to document the flora in all counties within a 50-mile radius of New York City, including all of Long Island, southeastern New York State, and northern New Jersey. Much of the funding for the project comes from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the New York Community Trust. As part of the public outreach component of this project, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden has created the online metropolitan plant encyclopedia, along with a botanical key to identifying these plants. Visitors can browse through the encyclopedia at their leisure, consult a glossary of terms, and learn more about each species. Additionally, the "What Plants Grow Where" will help users learn which woody plant species grow in any given county within the study area. [KMG]

Archival Photographic Files of the University of Chicago

Many universities have extensive archives that document their institutions' growth, development and evolution, and the University of Chicago is no exception. Their current archival photo files digitization project began in February 2002, and the first stage was recently completed and made available for the general public on this website. This first set of images to be made available comes from the series titled "Buildings and Grounds". Of course, the photographs and visual materials contained within cover a wide range of subjects, ranging from zoning maps of the surrounding areas in the early 20th century to photographs of various buildings under construction from the 1890s to the 1920s. There are a number of real finds contained within the archives, including a photograph of that legendary educational iconoclast Robert Maynard Hutchins at the groundbreaking ceremony for the Oriental Institute and Enrico Fermi placing a time capsule inside the Accelerator building at the James Franck Institute. [KMG]

The Bruner Foundation [pdf]

The Rudy Bruner Foundation and Award for Urban Excellence was created in 1986 by Simeon Bruner to honor his late father. The award seeks to honor those urban places that "are developed with such vision and imagination that they transform urban problems into creative solutions." The award is given every two years, and one gold medal prize is awarded (along with a $50,000 prize) and several silver medal winners are also awarded. On this site, visitors can learn about previous award winners, such as the Lower East Side Tenement Museum, the Camino Nuevo Charter Academy, and the Pike Place Market. Additionally, the Bruner Foundation makes a number of its publications available online, including compilations of materials about the winning places from 1991 to 2003. [KMG]

Crime in the United States: 2003 [Microsoft Excel, pdf]

Every year, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) produces its annual complete crime report for the United States, and the report for 2003 was recently made available in a variety of formats on the agency's website. While the report is a bit overwhelming (it is 516 pages in length), novice users may want to start by looking at page v, which explains how to read and understand the numbers contained within the report. Section II contains details on all offenses reported, including violent crime, property crime, and hate crime. In brief, the report reveals that violent crime in the United States dropped three percent last year, and that 62 percent of last year's murders have been solved to date. It is also worth noting that during the past 10 years, total violent crime in the U.S. has dropped 25 percent. A number of separate tables are available in the Excel format, including "Murder Victims by Age, by Weapon" and "Arrests by State". [KMG]

Chronic Teacher Turnover in Urban Elementary Schools [pdf]

The Education Policy Analysis Archives is well regarded for its peer-reviewed articles that deal with a broad range of topics related to education policy, ranging from articles on college graduation rates to developing culturally sensitive teaching materials. One of the most recent articles will be of great interest to those with an interest in the problem of teacher turnover and attrition in urban elementary schools. This 30-page paper from August 2004 was authored by Kacey Guin, a researcher at the Center on Reinventing Public Education at the Daniel J. Evans School of Public Affairs at the University of Washington. The study presented here examines the "characteristics of elementary schools that experience chronic teacher turnover" and also makes several interesting policy suggestions, including the contention that school districts should provide effective incentive programs so that high quality teachers will remain in low-performing schools. [KMG]

Math And Science Song Information, Viewable Everywhere [RealPlayer, Windows Media Player]

Math And Science Song Information, Viewable Everywhere, or MASSIVE, is a database containing information on more than 1700 science and math songs. The songs, suitable for a variety of ages and of varying sound quality, are both silly and serious. Visitors can search on a song or listen to MASSIVE radio, "an Internet radio station devoted entirely to science/math songs." (Note that the radio station requires a connection speed of at least 64 kilobits per second). The database includes the name of the performer, songwriter, the album title, lyrics, and links to sample files along with purchasing information. The database is maintained by Greg Crowther, who is affiliated with the University of Washington, Science Groove, and the Science Songwriters' Association. The project is part of the National Science Foundation's National Science Digital Library. [VF] This site is also reviewed in the November 5, 2004 NSDL MET Report. [VF]

Graveyard of the Pacific: The Shipwrecks of Vancouver Island [Macromedia Flash Player]

For those who make their living aboard large ships, there is always the fear of a potential shipwreck, especially when navigating dangerous passages. One of the latest sites from the Virtual Museum of Canada explores the various shipwrecks that have taken place around Vancouver Island, off the mainland of British Columbia, from the year 1803 to the present day. Here visitors will learn about the tales of survival from these doomed vessels, view an interactive map of the shipwrecks, and learn about the various hazards associated with the waters off Vancouver Island. The tales of survival are told in 10 stories disseminated through the site's own "Shipwreck Times", which takes quotes from interviews and historic newspaper articles to create a full portrait of each incident. The interactive shipwreck map is quite nice, as it allows visitors to learn about each shipwreck and to view photographs of the various wrecks in context. There is also an interactive game called "Wrecks", that allows visitors to navigate the icy oceans of Vancouver Island in an attempt to bring their cargo to a safe harbor. [KMG]

Japan Society [pdf]

The Japan Society was founded in New York City in 1907 by a group of businesspeople who were intimately interested in promoting relations between the United States and Japan. While the Society experienced a downturn in activities during World War II, the postwar period saw the Society come under the direction of John D. Rockefeller III, who was able to vastly expand its programs. Currently, the Society offers a number of programs, including programs for K-12 educators, a language center, a global affairs lecture and seminar series, and exhibitions in its gallery. One particularly nice resource is the mini-site, "Journey Through Japan", which may be found in the education section. This part of the site is designed specifically for educators, and includes background readings, lesson plans, maps, an interactive timeline and a photo gallery. Additionally, visitors can sign up to receive a number of specialized electronic newsletters sent out by the Society. [KMG]

General Interest

Sears Archives

In 1887, a man named Richard Sears placed an ad in the Chicago Daily news that read: "WANTED: Watchmaker with reference who can furnish tools. State age, experience, and salary required". A young Hoosier named Alvah C. Roebuck responded and six short years later, the corporate firm of Sears, Roebuck and Co. came into existence. The company became well known for its famed mail-order catalogues (discontinued in 1993), and the fair and expedient services it provided to thousands of rural families. This site brings some of the Sears corporate history to life through narrative historical essays on the company's development, a fine history of its legendary "Big-Book" catalog, and individual store histories as well. For those with an interest in the Sears Modern Homes (sold by Sears from 1908-1940), there is also a great section on these structures, which although not innovative in their designs were part of a broader effort to extend home ownership to the general public. The site is rounded out by a selection of annual company reports and facts about the history of the company. [KMG]

Color Images in Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Online Catalog
Prokudin-Gorskii Collection
FSA/OWI Color Transparencies
British Cartoon Prints

The Library of Congress (LC) recently announced the availability of early color photographs and prints in its online catalog, including the Prokudin-Gorskii Collection, Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information Color Transparencies, and British Cartoon Prints. Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii photographed the Russian Empire between 1905 and 1915, using an early color process, producing about 1,900 glass plate negatives, all of which have been digitized by LC. The FSA/OWI Color Transparencies collection includes about 1,600 color transparencies, taken between 1933 and 1949, showing work and home life, culture, and the war industry in the U.S., Puerto Rico, and Virgin Islands, such as a view of a woman working on an airplane motor at the North American Aviation plant in California in 1942. Also available are about 500 British satirical prints dating from ca. 1621 - 1853, including, for example, "The horse America throwing his master" a print that shows a bucking horse throwing its rider, King George III. [DS]

The Katherine Dunham Collection at the Library of Congress [RealPlayer];jsessionid=oe2y7htdc1

Recently, the Library of Congress created the "I Hear American Singing" digital project in order to allow visitors the ability "to experience the diversity of American performing arts". One of its first online digital collections pays tribute to Katherine Dunham, who was born in Chicago in 1909 and is best known for incorporating Caribbean, African, and South American movement styles and themes into her ballets. Dunham is also well known for her anthropological explorations of dance, a lifelong passion that began with her studies at the University of Chicago in the late 1920s. While some digitized collections claim to be "multimedia" in their holdings, this particular collection truly lives up to this appellation. The very fine video clips contained within the archive allow visitors to watch interviews with Dunham, learn about her fieldwork, and watch excerpts from some of her many ballets, including Barrelhouse, L'Ag'Ya, and Shango. Users of this collection will also appreciate the introductory essays composed by Vicky J. Risner, who is the dance specialist for the music division of the Library of Congress. [KMG]

Broadway: The American Musical [RealPlayer, Macromedia Flash Player]

Hosted by Julie Andrews, and directed by Michael Kantor, this five-part series from PBS offers numerous insights into the wide world of the Great White Way throughout its long and fabled past, all the way up to the present day. Visitors may want to start by reading some of the fine essays in the "Hello, Broadway!" section where they can read about the relationship between Broadway and Hollywood, the role of political satire on Broadway, and the incorporation of rock music into Broadway productions. In the "Memorable Musicals" section, visitors can learn about important groundbreaking and influential musicals, including La Cage aux Folles and Hair. The Broadway Trivia game should not be missed, as visitors can answer a host of questions (accompanied by snippets of various musical numbers) as they try to navigate their way through Times Square to the theater of their choice. Of course, to get that first-hand experience about the life and times of some of Broadway's most storied legends, visitors will want to go to the "Stars over Broadway" section. Here they can listen to famed illustrator talk about the late Zero Mostel and watch theater historian Dwight Bowers talk about that master of the musical, Jerome Kern. [KMG]

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention [pdf, RealPlayer]

With headquarters in New York, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) was established in 1987 in order to create a coherent and combined effort to fund research that would assist in the prevention of suicide. During the past 17 years, the organization has created an extensive network of research grant programs, workshops for those seeking to form survivor support groups, and a suicide data bank. The AFSP website contains information on some of its outreach programs, such as the National Survivors of Suicide Day and also its service announcements. There is a great deal of pragmatic information here as well, including a FAQ section which provides answers to pressing questions such as "What is the biggest cause of suicide among college students?". The site is rounded out by a topically organized list of important online resources, such as statistics about suicide, clinical information, and prevention and screening materials. [KMG]

International Adoption News [pdf]

Adopting children from other countries around the world can be a rewarding, albeit challenging, opportunity, and some people may feel a bit overwhelmed by starting the process. This website is designed to deal with international adoption issues, and is produced by Dr. Ellen Fitzenrider, who herself is a single mom of a young girl adopted from Vietnam. The site itself is divided into sections that offer articles on international adoption, creating a multicultural family, and an area where visitors can have online discussions and submit questions. In the multicultural family section, visitors can learn how many families are adopting transracially, along with providing information about groups and organizations that provide both community and support for families adopting internationally. The site is rounded out by a resource area that contains detailed information on obtaining financial assistance for adoption and international adoption newsgroups. [KMG]

Woodland Park Zoo: Multimedia [Macromedia Flash Player, RealPlayer]

The Woodland Park Zoo, located in Seattle, was one of the first zoos in the United States to move animals out of traditional barred enclosures into more naturalistic habitats. Now the zoo has created this multimedia area where the young and old can view some of these animals in these habitats, and learn more about them interactively. The interactive features area is a good place to start, as visitors can watch a video of a komodo dragon baby hatching, view an interactive map to learn about the decline of the Sumatran tiger, and explore the world of the jaguar. The video archive offers some short video clips of animals "in action", including a kea bird, some Ossabaw pigs, and a snow leopard. The "Miscellaneous Goodies" area is a real treat as visitors can view the "Bear Cam" (which features, yes, that's right: live bears), send a friend an electronic postcard of an endangered animal, and experience the life cycle of a butterfly. [KMG]

Network Tools

WebLog Expert 3.1

Those persons looking for a new and helpful tool to analyze information about their website's traffic and visitors should look no further than this latest edition of WebLog Expert. This version will give information about accessed files, activity statistics, paths through the site, all offered in HTML reports that include both text information and charts. WebLog Expert 3.1 is compatible with all systems running Windows 95 and higher. [KMG]

Jyte 1.6.14

With the almost staggering amount of news that can be gathered and examined on the Internet, it can be helpful to have an effective way to search and categorize this material in a simple and user-friendly fashion. This application allows users to obtain the latest news from their favorite sources quickly and simply, using tabbed browsing, continuous keyword searches, and article emailing. The program website also contains a tutorial, a FAQ section, and several sample screen shots. Jyte 1.6.14 is compatible with all operating systems running Windows 98 and higher. [KMG]

In The News

Public, epicureans celebrate well-known dining guide

The Zagat Guide Turns 25
Is Online Voting Compromising Zagat?
Chicago is kind to its waiters and waitresses
Zagat Survey Restaurant Reviews
The History of Duncan Hines
The Most Expensive U.S. Restaurants

Centuries ago, the experience of dining out for most travelers would have been a potentially harrowing one. Faced with few options, most persons on the road would have to settle for the unpredictable fare of a local innkeeper. With the arrival of the automobile and the expansion of dining options, travelers often had more choices, but how to choose? One such traveling salesman by the name of Duncan Hines compiled a list of 167 dining establishments in 1935 that he soon began to pass out to friends and acquaintances. Soon, a deluge of dining guides came on the market over the coming decades, and one of these young upstarts recently celebrated its 25th year in existence. The Zagat Survey was first published in 1979 as a guide to restaurants in New York, and has since grown to cover the entire country, and also branched out into other subjects to rate and pick apart at length, including golf, hotels, and nightlife. The guides are the inventions of Tim and Nina Zagat, who originally started the guidebook as a small hobby. Despite the guidebooks popularity, they are not without their critics. As anyone can logon to the Zagat website and cast their votes on various aspects of the dining experience at different restaurants, some have claimed that this process results in a widely varying range of opinions, and that some of these opinions undermine the more qualified opining of food critics and professional chefs.

The first link leads to a recent piece from on the long-running restaurant guidebook series, and includes a brief interview with Tim Zagat. The second link will whisk visitors away to an article from this Wednesdays San Francisco Chronicle that discusses the online voting process utilized by Zagat that some suggest may be compromising the guidebooks credibility and accuracy. The third link leads to another article from the Chicago Sun-Times that discusses the results of the annual Zagat survey of the nations top restaurants. Interestingly enough, the survey finds that Philadelphians are the best tippers in the country, and that denizens of the Second City dont tip so poorly either. The fourth link leads to the Zagat homepage, where visitors can offer their own informed opinions on various restaurants from Ivars Acres of Clams in Seattle to the legendary Rainbow Room in New York. The fifth link offers some biographical information about that longtime restaurant critic, Mr. Duncan Hines, courtesy of the equally venerable corporate entity that bears his name. The final link leads to a fun story from from several weeks ago that profiles the most expensive restaurants in the United States, including the Ginza Sushiko in Los Angeles, where meals costs over $600 for a mere two persons. [KMG]

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

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