December 10, 2004
A Publication of the Internet Scout Project
Computer Sciences Department, University of Wisconsin-Madison
NSDL Scout Reports
Research and Education
- Book Adventure
- OECD: Global Forums
- How Well Are American Students Learning?
- Space Weather Now
- We The People
- The Paleobiology Database
- Sense of Smell
- Afghanistan Unveiled
- Three Mile Island: The Inside Story
- The Writer in the Garden
- GUIdebook: Graphical User Interface Gallery
- ACCION International
In The News
NSDL Scout Reports
The twenty-fifth 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 Composting. The Physical Sciences Report's Topic in Depth section offers websites and comments about The Atchafalaya River and the lower Mississippi Atchafalaya River Basin.
Research and Education
Online since 1999, this reading motivation program and resource center is designed and maintained by the Sylvan Learning Foundation. Designed for students in grades kindergarten through nine, the site allows young people to create their own book lists and take multiple-choice quizzes on the books they've read as well. The site is hosted by the colorful animated duo of Rex Reader (a rather well-read Tyrannosaurus Rex) and Bailey Bookmark, a learned canine who can bark in 14 languages. From the homepage, visitors can browse through the Literacy Calendar, take a look through the current reading resources (compiled by Rex and Bailey themselves), and look through recently recommended books. The "Parents Place" area is a good place for parents to learn about books for children, reading outreach events, and tips for helping their students become passionate about reading. Needless to say, the "Kids Zone" contains some of the helpful quizzes mentioned above and some games that help reading more enjoyable. [KMG]
In the early 21st century, there are a multitude of evolving policy questions that are inherently transnational in scope and breadth, and thus require an ongoing dialogue across various political and organizational boundaries. It is not surprising that one of the international organizations involved in creating a meaningful dialogue and exchange of ideas is the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Its Global Forum program is an excellent way to learn about some of these complex policy questions and programs they are emerging, as the organization addressed such issues as governance, international investment, the knowledge economy, and sustainable development. Within each thematic section, users can view working papers, statistics, and other relevant documents related to each theme. For persons with an interest in these topics, this site will be of great use, and one that is worth returning to several times. [KMG]
Released in November 2004, the fifth annual edition of the Brown Center Report on American Education (as it does every year) analyzes the difficulty of items on the math portion of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), examines the content training of middle school math teachers, and evaluates the Blue Ribbon Schools Program. Some of the initial findings from the report are a bit disturbing, as it notes that the math items on the NAEP assessment lack challenging arithmetic, often requiring skills that are several years below grade level. From this page, visitors may download and view the entire report (authored by Tom Loveless), examine a PowerPoint presentation highlighting the report's primary findings, and view the previous five reports, which date back to the year 2000. [KMG]
The NOAA Space Weather Now website provides non-technical information and an assortment of images detailing current space weather. Visitors can find summaries describing auroras, plots of current auroral ovals on the poles, and viewing information for the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. The Real-Time Solar Wind Pages furnish dynamic plots of data, geomagnetic activity test product information, and resources about the four instruments used to collect data on geomagnetic storms. The website features Space Weather Scales to help the public understand the severity of environmental disturbances due to geomagnetic storms, solar radiation storms, and radio blackouts. Visitors can find the latest news, alerts, advisory bulletins, and much more. [RME] This site is also reviewed in the December 10, 2004_NSDL Physical Sciences Report_.
On Constitution Day 2002, President George W. Bush announced the start of the "We The People" program, which is an National Endowment for the Humanities initiative designed "to explore the significant events and themes in our nation's history, and to share these lessons with all Americans." For those who may not think such a program is needed, they may do well to stop by the "Evidence of American Amnesia" section, which reveals some rather disturbing statistics about the general lack of basic knowledge about American history. One such discovery taken from a recent poll is that almost one-third of Americans thought that the President may suspend the Bill of Rights in wartime. The tone of the site is generally optimistic however, as visitors may learn about grant opportunities available through this initiative, read about the project's annual essay contest (and read winning entries), and read the text of the annual Heroes of History Lecture, which is given each year by a distinguished scholar of American history. [KMG]
The extension programs sponsored by the massive state universities scattered throughout the United States have brought both important intellectual opportunities and practical knowledge into the homes of their residents, and are often revered institutions in their respective states. Of course, The Ohio State University Extension is no different, and it have gone above and beyond the call of duty in creating this online information resource known as "Ohioline". Certainly of use both to Buckeyes and those outside the state, Ohioline gives Web users access to hundreds of fact sheets, bulletins, and other important educational materials that run the gamut from agriculture to community development. These materials are divided into topical areas, and for the latest additions to the site, visitors can visit the "It's New!" area. Visitors looking for specific information may also find its comprehensive search engine quite helpful. [KMG]
Intended as a public resource for scientists around the world, the Paleobiology Database "has been organized and operated by a multi-disciplinary, multi-institutional, international group of paleobiological researchers. Its purpose is to provide global, collection-based occurrence and taxonomic data for marine and terrestrial animal and plants of any geologic age, as well as Web-based software for statistical analysis of the data." Site visitors can search for Fossil Collection Records, Taxa Classifications, Taxa, and Published References. The site also allows visitors to view different time scales; and offers a detailed download request form with a variety of Options, Occurrence Fields, and Collection Fields. In addition, the website supplies information about the Database including contacts for participating researchers; options for analyzing data with maps, data summary tables and a diversity curve; and examples of Entry Forms for References, Main Collection Records, and Taxonomic Occurrences. Be sure to check out the animated world map depicting the dramatic growth of the Database from 1999 to the present. [NL] This site is also reviewed in the December 10, 2004_NSDL Life Sciences Report_.
Most people could stand to know a bit more about the sense of smell, and this website is a good place to start. The basic mission of the Sense of Smell Institute is "to be a leading global resource relating to the sense of smell and its importance to human psychology, behavior and quality of life". Visitors to the site can start by visiting the "Smell 101" section of the site, where they can begin to learn about the sense of smell and the benefits of fragrance. The "Smell Resources" area is particularly well-developed and contains a virtual library of scientific articles which relate to human olfaction and a selection of recommended books on the subject, divided into thematic areas such as sensuality and perfumery. For the uninitiated, there is also a helpful glossary of olfaction available here. Finally, visitors can also learn about the events and exhibits that constitute the annual National Sense of Smell Day. [KMG]
Get a first-hand look at women's lives in Afghanistan since the fall of the Taliban by following a team of female journalists. These 14 young women, some still teenagers, trained as camera operators and video journalists at the AINA (http://www.ainaworld.org/) Afghan Media and Culture Center in Kabul between July 2002 to August 2003. They used their new skills to document the harsh lives of rural women of Afghanistan, who are not yet experiencing the greater freedoms enjoyed by the journalistic team. For example, in Herat, known as a cultural center with some of Afghanistan's finest architecture, a woman cannot travel without a male chaperone. Although it was difficult to find women who would speak on film because of their fear of punishment, the journalists interviewed a young woman whose husband was killed by U.S. bombs when she was six-months pregnant and who now struggles to feed her family. [DS]
The Smithsonian National Museum of American History doesn't shy away from the recent historical past, and this recent online exhibit details the events surrounding March 28, 1979. This auspicious date happened to be the day of the worst reported accident at a civilian nuclear power plant, in which half the fuel melted in one of two nuclear reactors on Three Mile Island near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. To recognize the 25th anniversary of this event, the National Museum of American History created a substantial display-case style exhibit, and also created this nice online exhibit. The online exhibit contains 12 separate sections and includes various photographs and other visual materials that appeared in the Museum of American history in the spring of 2004. Visitors can also get some sense of the chronology of nuclear power in the United States by taking a look at section 11, which features a brief timeline of relevant events. The site is rounded out by a bibliography of other readings which may be of interest. [KMG]
Writers have often used gardens as powerful tropes to convey a wide range of ideas and complex thoughts, whether they be used as idealized settings for human interaction or as broader microcosms of the experiences of species interaction. This intriguing online website from the British Library allows users to see "how gardens have inspired authors and how authors in their turn have shaped notions of the garden." This overarching theme draws on the work of novelists, essayists, scientists, and numerous others, and affords visitors the ability to view six illustrated themes (such as "Where is Paradise?"), enter competitions, and send e-cards. One rather astonishing feature allows visitors to turn the pages of Elizabeth Blackwell's famed "A Curious Herbal", which was published in London around 1731. This particular copy was once the property of King George III, which gives the visitor a certain sense of having a rare opportunity to view the pages as perhaps he would have done so himself. [KMG]
The world of religious icons and other illustrative and symbolic elements is well-documented both in print publications, and to a lesser extent, in various online archives and exhibitions. But what about the world of graphical user interfaces, such as the icons that populate many of our computer screens? Curious visitors will find their fill at this online museum of graphical interfaces, many of which even some long-time computer users may have forgotten about. Divided into categories such as icons, sounds, components, and interfaces, the site contains over 2675 pictures and 651 icons from 51 interfaces. Visitors may want to browse through some of these sections, especially ones like the "Splashes" area where they can view some of those iconic images that are (or were) displayed while various programs are in the process of launching. Here visitors can view such classics as those splashes created for Netscape Navigator 2.0 and Microsoft Word 1.1. Also, even the most stoic user may shed a tear while listening to some of the "classic" sounds of such platforms as Windows 95, which are also available here. Rounding things out here are a selection of historical articles on graphical user interfaces, and a few advertisements from the not-so-distant past, including one featuring a certain Harvard drop-out-turned billionaire. [KMG]
How does one effectively set out to represent the ever-changing and almost hyperkinetic amount of activity that characterizes the modern world? It's certainly not a simple question, but this site offers a visual representation of this ongoing process every hour. Every hour, 10x10 collects the 100 words and pictures that matter most on a global scale (culled from a number of leading international news sources, such as the BBC World News), and present that as a picture postcard window, composed of 100 different frames. As their site notes, "Scanning a grid of pictures can be more intuitive than reading headlines, for it lets the news come to life, and everything feels a bit less distant, a bit closer to heart, and maybe, if we're lucky, gives us pause to think." Compelling and original in its approach to the subject, it should be noted that 10x10 was designed and developed by Jonathan Harris, in conjunction with the FABRICA communication research center in Italy. [KMG]
Part of the ongoing debate about the process of globalization throughout both the developed and developing world is that a good deal of the world's population continues to grow poorer and poorer while a number of international transnational corporations continue to increase their share of the world's assets. There have been a number of efforts to combat poverty in the developing world, including the highly publicized and generally well-received efforts of the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh. One such nonprofit program that has successfully been transplanted from the developing world to the developed world is the ACCION International program of microlending. On its homepage, visitors can learn about the organization's various programs designed to raise people out of poverty through microlending, and also read some key statistics behind its work. For those looking for more detailed information, there is also a publications area, where visitors may download works on topic such as the sustainability of such programs and various "how to" manuals for microentrepreneurs. Many of the publications are available at no charge, and a number of them are also available in Spanish. Finally, visitors may also sign up to receive the ACCION e-News as well. [KMG]
With a nice set of customizable skins and sounds, Omnibrowser 2.0 is worth taking a look at. This new shell program provides a tabbed browser function, automatic popup blocking, and the internalized ability to consult major search engines. As with most similar programs, visitors can add favorite sites quickly, and also view a complete browser history. OmniBrowser 2.0 is compatible with all systems running Windows XP. [KMG]
The French have given us much over the past several hundred years, and this latest application is also a gift from yet another person of French ancestry. My Personal Home Page 0.2.1 allows visitors to create a personal information manager, which creates toolboxes where various pieces of important data may be stored. Some of the data that may be stored using this application include addresses, birthday reminders, and "to do" lists. This version is compatible with all operating systems. [KMG]
In The News
Turner prize shock: out of our serious competitors, the best artist wins
How the Turner lost its shock value
The Guardian profile: Jeremy Deller
Turner Prize 2004 [RealPlayer]
Turner Prize 2004: Your Views
Doon Online: Anish Kapoor
Established in 1984, the Turner Prize is a contemporary art award, held at the Tate Britain museum, that has consistently generated both widespread acclaim and hostility. No doubt these intense feelings are sometimes due to the entries each year, which in the recent past have included unmade beds, elephant dung, and sex dolls. This years entries were a bit more subdued, and the winner (announced this past Monday) was Jeremy Dellers entry Memory Bucket. This multimedia piece consists of impressions and objects gathered from a trip that Deller took across the state of Texas some 18 months ago, and included brass bands and video images of bats streaming through the mouth of a cave. While Dellers entry was generally considered to be the favorite of the general public and his artist colleagues, one critic referred to his work as disgustingly twee, while musician David Byrne had kinder words, calling the work hilarious and touching. This years contest also developed some rather interesting political (and legal) overtones, as the central piece of the exhibition (a film made in a Kabul courtroom) had to be withdrawn after legal counsel determined it could be prejudicial to the trial of a suspected Afghan warlord.
The first link will take visitors to an article from the online edition of the Guardian that discusses the recent announcement of this years Turner Prize, along with providing links to previous news articles on the competition. The second link leads to a piece from The Scotsman which discusses Dellers previous works and the works of the other entries in this years competition. The third link will take users to a detailed artist profile of Jeremy Deller offered by the Guardian. The fourth link leads to the official site of the Turner Prize 2004 announcement, where visitors can also view a clip of Memory Bucket, and learn about the other artists whose entries were in the competition. The fifth link offers some direct feedback (courtesy of the BBC News website) from readers about this years winner and his fellow nominees. There are a wide range of opinions represented here, including one person from London who suggest that the prize should be renamed the Turner Self Publicity Stunt Prize. The final link leads to a fine site devoted to the internationally known sculptor and visual artist Anish Kapoor, who was the recipient of the Turner Prize in 1991. [KMG]
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