The Scout Report -- Volume 11, Number 22

June 3, 2005

A Publication of the Internet Scout Project
Computer Sciences Department, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Sponsored by University of Wisconsin - Madison Libraries.

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 eleventh issue of the fourth volume of the MET Report is available. Its Topic in Depth section offers websites and comments about graph theory.

Research and Education

Encyclopedia of Chicago History [Macromedia Flash Player, QuickTime, Real Player]

Somewhere between Los Angeles and New York is a metropolis affectionately referred to by some as the "Second City". Also known as Chicago, this fair city has recently received its due with the publication of this outstanding reference volume. The online version offered on this site is even more authoritative than the print volume, as it contains a number of interactive maps and special features. Produced by the Chicago Historical Society, the Newberry Library and Northwestern University, this online edition allows users to search the entire contents of the Encyclopedia, and even browse digitized versions of the primary historical documents that serve as the research materials for the print articles. From the homepage, visitors can peruse a user's guide to the Encyclopedia. Each entry includes hypertext links, and in some cases, illustrative materials. For additional information, each entry also features some additional readings. Visitors will also want to take a look at the lovely maps produced for the volume, including a rather compelling map of Chicago's blues clubs. Finally, the special features area includes several interpretive digital essays on the Plan of Chicago of 1909 and galleries on such important topics as "How Chicagoans Remember Their History". [KMG]

The Sustainable Cities Programme [pdf]

The past several decades have seen a growing interest in the notion of various aspects of sustainable development, whether they be in terms of agriculture, transportation planning, or creating large-scale housing programs. Located within the United Nations Human Settlement Programme, the Sustainable Cities Programme (SCP) is a facility dedicated to building capacities in urban environmental planning and management. Currently the SCP operates in 20 cities around the globe, including cities in China, Chile, Egypt, and Kenya. Visitors to the site will want to read about how the programme operates in different parts of the world, and then perhaps look at their publications, which include several fact sheets and source books on topic such as urban air quality management and environmental planning. Finally, the site also provides material on their various global meetings, such as the upcoming SCP meeting in Havana during June 2005. [KMG]

EUROPA: Justice and Home Affairs [pdf]

Begun in 1999, the Justice and Home Affairs mandate is "to ensure that the whole European Union is an area of freedom, security and justice." Within its overall structure, the organization has seventeen policy units, including those dealing with immigration and asylum, civil justice, and the coordination of anti-drug policies. One rather handy area of the site is the Virtual Documentation Centre, which contains reports and working documents related to each of these various policy areas, and which will be of great assistance to those with a penchant for international law and policy. The Newsroom area features the latest news releases from the organization, including a number of information dossiers that feature compiled information on recent European Council activities, such as the First European Day for the victims of terrorism. [KMG]

Office of Postsecondary Education [pdf]

Operated as a division of the Department of Education, the Office of Postsecondary Education (OPE) is currently under the direction of Sally L. Stroup, who serves as the Assistant Secretary for Postsecondary Education. The OPE is responsible for formulating federal policy for postsecondary education, and also serves as a clearinghouse of information on their own programs and the overall state of postsecondary education in the United States. Much of this material is available online at their site, and visitors will want to begin their investigation on the site at the "What's New" area. From this area, visitors can learn about the nefarious world of so-called "diploma mills" and read press releases about their latest programs and initiatives. Finally, visitors can learn about the accreditation process that is administered by the OPE in order to ensure quality postsecondary education. [KMG]

Extension Project Collection [pdf]

The legacy of the Works Progress Administration (WPA) is evident in the thousands of various public projects they completed across the United States during the 1930s and 1940s. Across the country they employed thousands of persons, working on projects such as staging plays and crafting murals in public schools. One of their lesser known projects was the "Museum Extension Project", which was administered at the state level. The project produced hundreds of architectural models, dioramas, figurines, and other objects, designed for use in a host of educational settings. Fortunately enough, the Broward County Library in Fort Lauderdale, Florida has preserved over 700 of these visual aids, and placed them online in this digital collection. Visitors can read a fine introductory essay by librarian Jim Findlay about the WPA and the Museum Extension Project, then proceed to search the collection at their leisure. Overall, this is a rather fine collection and one that is well presented. [KMG]

The Institute for the Interdisciplinary Study of Human & Machine Cognition
The Institute for the Interdisciplinary Study of Human & Machine Cognition (IHMC) is an interdisciplinary research unit of the University of West Florida. Researchers and staff at the IHMC investigate "a broad range of topics related to understanding cognition in both humans and machines with a particular emphasis on building computational tools to leverage and amplify human cognitive and perceptual capacities." Their work advances the study of human-centered computing, which takes a systems view to link human thought and action and technological systems. They are primarily interested in the analysis, design, and evaluation of computational aids or "cognitive prostheses." The website provides an overview of each of their current research areas, which include: knowledge modeling and sharing, adjustable autonomy, advanced interfaces and displays, communication and collaboration, computer-mediated learning systems, intelligent data understanding, software agents, expertise studies, work practice simulation, knowledge representation, and other related areas. They also provide Cmap Tools, a knowledge modeling software kit, which is free to download and "empowers users to construct, navigate, share, and criticize knowledge models represented as Concept Models." [VF]
This site is also reviewed in the June 3, 2005. [VF]

Denver Public Library: Western History/Genealogy Department

The Denver Public Library has been collecting material on Western history and genealogy since the first several decades of the 20th century, and their genealogy materials comprise the largest such holdings in the Rocky Mountain area. For persons interested in utilizing their services, their site contains useful materials about their various topical holdings, such as primary manuscripts, photographs, and newspapers. One particular online resource is the photograph archive, which contains over 100,000 photographs which feature images of pioneer life, mining, Denver, and railroads. Visitors are encouraged to search this archive by geographic location, subject, personal name, or date. Another interesting feature is the "Building Histories" tutorial, which was designed to teach individuals how to research the history of various structures through photographs, building permits, and atlases. [KMG]

The John W. Kluge Center at the Library of Congress [Real Player]

In 2000, Metromedia president John W. Kluge donated $60 million to support an academic center where various senior scholars and post-doctoral fellows might come together at the Library of Congress to make full use of their tremendous collections and to interact with members of Congress. In the intervening five years, the Center has been quite a success, and this site provides an overview of the work at the Center and a number of online resources, such as the archives of the Kissinger Lectures and other such events. The News and Events area contains these archives, which date back to 2001, and include webcasts of talks and lectures by such luminaries as Vaclav Havel and the proceedings of symposia such as "Statecraft and America's Position in the World." Aspiring scholars and independent researchers will definitely want to look over the fellowship and grant opportunities offered by the Kluge Center as well. [KMG]

General Interest

The Virtual Motor City: Images from the Detroit News;page=index

To some, Detroit stands as a symbol of the failed promise of the American urban condition. While the city has shown signs of new vitality in the past several decades, the city remains synonymous with so-called "white flight", disinvestment, and a general feeling of post-industrial malaise. This lovely photograph archive from the Wayne State University Library System and the Walter P. Reuther Library brings together 15,000 images that trace the city's development through its structures, its activities, and its people. The project draws upon over 800,000 negatives from the Detroit News which were donated by the paper's outgoing editor and publisher, Robert Giles. The project was supported by a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, and on the site, visitors can browse the collection by topic, decade, or by performing their own keyword search. There are hundreds of fine photographs here, including images of the first Oldsmobile, dramatic evidence of the race riots of the 1960s, and the glorious Fox Theater. [KMG]

Whatever Happened to Polio?

This Smithsonian National Museum of American History exhibit celebrates the 50th anniversary of effective vaccines to prevent polio. On April 12, 1955, Dr. Jonas Salk, a virologist working at the University of Pittsburgh with funding from the March of Dimes, announced his vaccine against the disease. In 1957, trials of Dr. Albert Sabin's vaccine began. Between 1955 and 1957, the incidence of polio in the U.S dropped by 85 - 90%. Since it draws upon the vast collections of the Smithsonian, the exhibit is lavishly illustrated with historical photographs, and all kinds of ephemera, such as an advertisement for Drinker-Collins respirators, "Polio Pioneer" buttons given to children who participated in Salk vaccine clinical trials, and a March of Dimes bank. The exhibit provides background information on polio-related topics including the March of Dimes, established by Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1938, an organization that took in millions of small donations to support the care of people who got polio and research into prevention and treatment; the history of vaccines; and the differences between Salk's killed-virus vaccine, and Sabin's live-virus vaccine. [DS]

Virtual Hilltribe Museum

Much of the received wisdom regarding the preservation of indigenous or highly localized cultures would seem to suggest that technology would seem to be effectively destroying their traditions and folkways. Providing a counterpoint to this view is the Virtual Hilltribe Museum, which is a product of the Mirror Art Group of Chiang Rai, Thailand. With funding from the Rockefeller Foundation, the organization is guided by the statement that "We believe that empowerment of minority cultures via media and technology is essential for their survival."
While this site focuses primarily on the experience of the hillpeople in northern Thailand, the Mirror Art Group's mission is "to stimulate interest and educate all people interested in learning about hilltribe cultures across the world". On their well-designed and thorough site, visitors can learn about the various hilltribes through interactive features, including voice recordings, short video clips. Visitors would do well to take a close look at the "Slices of Life" area of the site, which contains a number of first-hand observations about hilltribe marriage customs and one village elder reciting his genealogy. [KMG]

Environmental Protection Agency: Superfund [pdf]

The Superfund program has been around for approximately 25 years, and has been known for its attention to some of the United States' most egregious and offensive uncontrolled hazardous waste sites. Operated under the direction of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Superfund's website contains copious amounts of information that is of use to the general public, environmentalists, and policy makers. First-time visitors may want to peruse the FAQ section, or look through some of the "In The News" updates provided near the top of the homepage. Along the left-hand side of the homepage, visitors can quickly move to sections that deal with community involvement in long-range Superfund plans, the location of Superfund sites across the country, and the ecological risks presented by various sites. Appropriately enough, there is even a "Superfund for Kids!" area of the site that offers a basic introduction to the Superfund program for the younger set. [KMG]

EASE History [Macromedia Flash Player, Quick Time]

The educational environment of the web continues to be transformed by compelling and exciting projects, and EASE History is one fine example of such an endeavor. Started by a team of scholars and researchers at Michigan State University, the EASE History website is an open learning environment that "supports flexibly adaptive thinking, the learning of difficult material, and open-mindedness. The site's primary focus is on assisting people to learn about various aspects of United States history through the creative use of video clips and photographs. To accomplish this, the site uses the prism of US presidential campaign ads and other related historical events. Users may want to start by taking in the "Tour" section of the site, which provides a brief overview of how the site's materials will be best utilized. Overall, this site provides a rich and interactive learning environment that may serve as the template for other such efforts. [KMG]

Amnesty International Report 2005

Released several weeks ago, the Amnesty International Report 2005 documents the somewhat disturbing trends across the globe, as numerous nations and international organizations have failed to effectively act to avert a number of humanitarian crises. Many different parties will find the report helpful, as this site offers access to regional overviews and a list of countries that visitors can peruse for more specific information on the state of human rights in each place. The site also contains numerous resources for journalists, and a message from Irene Khan, who serves as Amnesty International's Secretary General. Additionally, each country entry contains links to additional material from Amnesty International, and a general overview about the state of human rights in each country, and where applicable, how each country's policies and actions may be affecting human rights in other parts of the world. [KMG]

Geograph British Isles

There are a number of available photo weblogs that aim to offer a representative view of various cities, locales, or certain landforms around different parts of the world. The Geograph British Isles website aims to collect a geographically representative photograph for every single square kilometer of the British Isles, and so far it would be fair to say they are doing a fine job. Users of the site may elect to contribute their own photographs, or browse through the existing photos using an interactive map of the British Isles or through a search engine. To get some sense of what people are photographing for the project, visitors can look at the recent photos section on the right-hand side of the site's homepage. They may also want to peek in at the community forums, which seem to have a number of lively discussions going on regarding the site and the photos [Note: Registration is required to enter this part of the site] [KMG]

Network Tools

BlueVoda Website Builder 6.5.4

In recent years, it would seem that everyone is developing a website, including the former king of Cambodia, who even has a trenchant weblog where he responds to detractors and other such types. This helpful application will allow neophytes to construct their own websites using a relatively simple "drag and drop" style interface. Visitors can also take advantage of an image library and a community forum where they can query other users of the application for helpful hints. This version of Website Builder is compatible with all systems running Windows 95 or newer. [KMG]

Mozilla Thunderbird 1.0.2

Not so long ago, Thunderbird was just the email component of the rather popular Mozilla web browser. Now Thunderbird is a full-featured email client, containing such powerful features as intelligent spam features, a built-in RSS reader, and a quick search function. Users of this program can also customize the toolbar, change its visual appeal with different themes, and analyze junk mail. This version of Mozilla Thunderbird is compatible with systems running Windows 98 and newer. [KMG]

In The News

Ratification of European Union Constitution Hits a Roadblock

Divisions Deepen After France Rejects EU Constitution

Dutch Voters Reject EU Constitution,1280,-5045911,00.html

Is Europe's Motor Forever Stalled?,1564,1601393,00.html

NPR: Doubts Arise Over EU Constitution [Real Player]

What the EU Constitution says

Historical Archives of the European Union [pdf]

This past week, the ratification of the European Union's constitution met with some resistance as voters in both the Netherlands and France both voted "no" to approving the document. Some analysts have suggested that this rejection of the constitution is indicative of the fact that there is an increasing unease about the process of unification more generally in various countries across the continent. Pundits and analysts also agreed that there was no one defining reason why voters rejected the constitution. In France, those voting "no" seemed to range from those on the far right to the far left, and interestingly enough, included a large proportion of young people. It is worth noting that a number of opponents (particularly those on the political left) of ratification continue to make the claim that the constitution promotes a type of unencumbered capitalism that is akin to the type of socioeconomic mode of governance practiced in the United Kingdom and the United States. It will be sometime before the full impact of this recent development is understood, but it is certainly a story that is worthy of a closer look. [KMG]

The first link will take users to coverage of the ongoing EU Constitution process offered by the Voice of America from this past Monday. The second link will take visitors to a fine news piece from the Guardian that provides some insight into the recent rejection of the EU Constitution by Dutch voters. The third link leads to an article from Deutsche Welle that discusses the implications of these latest developments in Europe. The fourth link leads to a very thorough set of analyses of the ratification process as reported by National Public Radio. From this main page, visitors can also learn about the history of the EU Constitution and read some essential background material about the document. The fifth link, offered by the BBC, provides a quick introduction to the Constitution, along with providing a link to the full text of the document. The final link leads to the homepage of the Historical Archives of the European Union, where visitors can review primary documents related to the EU's development and also learn about utilizing their various collections. [KMG]

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

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