The Scout Report -- Volume 11, Number 30

July 29, 2005

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

Research and Education

General Interest

Network Tools

In The News

Research and Education

Social Science Information Gateway

Located within the Institute for Learning and Research Technology at the University of Bristol, the Social Science Information Gateway (SOSIG) is an online database of high quality Internet resources that primarily deal with the vast array of social science fields and subfields. Visitors can perform a simple search, or browse through the subject headings offered on the homepage. Each one of these discrete sites has been catalogued and annotated, making it easier to find specific resources quickly. Within each field or subfield, the editors of SOSIG have also listed some of their top choices. One particularly fine feature of the site is the "Grapevine", which offers a place for people in the social sciences to find out (and publicize) information about career opportunities and upcoming events. Visitors can also post their vitas in order to facilitate such opportunities. Finally, it is worth noting that the coverage of events and the like here is particularly strong for the United Kingdom and continental Europe. [KMG]

Cycles: African Life Through Art [Macromedia Flash Player]

Interpretations of the human life cycle take many forms, including those offered by the fields of human development, biology, and perhaps most creatively, in the fields of visual culture and art. This lovely online exhibit from the Indianapolis Museum of Art explores this very topic as seen through the cultures of Africa and their various artistic traditions. The extremely aesthetically appealing interface presents four images that represent the different stages of life--ancestors, youth, adulthood, and leadership. Clicking on any of these brings the viewer into another section that contains a gallery and a glossary of terms. Each gallery features important African artifacts, such as figurines, headpieces, and paintings. As viewers click on each item, they are presented with information on the importance of each item, along with some material about the item in its original context. Designed for users of all ages, this exhibit is both visually appealing and worthy of several visits. [KMG]

Say it Plain: A Century of Great African American Speeches [RealPlayer]

American Radio Works has produced a number of provocative and thoughtful radio documentaries (which are also available online), and this latest addition is truly no exception. Visitors to the site should begin by reading how the two creators of the documentary (Kate Ellis and Stephen Smith) selected these particular speeches, which is a rather interesting statement in itself. Visitors to the site can listen to the documentary in its entirety, or choose to listen to selected speeches, such as those by Booker T. Washington, Dick Gregory, and Stokeley Carmichael. Visitors can also follow along as they listen by scanning transcriptions of each speech. Other speeches offered here include the only known recordings of Marcus Garvey as well as Barbara Jordan's defense of the US Constitution during the impeachment hearings of President Richard Nixon. [KMG]

Understanding Genetics [Macromedia Flash Player]

While most people may retain a smattering of information and basic concepts about the field of genetics, some may also wish to refresh their knowledge base, and the Understanding Genetics website is a fine way to get back up to speed. Created and maintained by the good people at the Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose, the homepage is well thought out, and provides a nice entry point to many of the features available here. Visitors can peruse the questions posed to geneticists in the "Ask a Geneticist" feature, browse a selection of recent news stories regarding genetics, and take a survey on the ethical questions posed by the issues of stem cell research and genetically modified foods. The feature story is a fine resource as well, as it provides basic, non-jargon-laden answers to such question as "What is a gene?" and "How do genes work?". The site also contains a number of activities that can be done at home, including a fun exercise that teaches users how to extract DNA from strawberries. [KMG]

From Dublin to Ithaca: Cornell's James Joyce Collection

Though the mention of Ithaca, New York, may not immediately make one think of that giant of 20th century literature, James Joyce, there is a compelling connection between that city's fine Cornell University and this legend of letters. The Joyce Collection came to Cornell via the generosity of one of its alumni, William G. Mennen, who had the foresight to purchase dozens of Joyce's manuscripts and working drafts from the widow of Joyce's brother. This online exhibit provides ample information about these wonderful documents, along with an overview of Joyce's work and life. Moving through the different segments, visitors can learn about his early years and his struggle to produce his masterpiece, Ulysses. Along the way, visitors can view a selection of items, including a handwritten note to Henrik Ibsen and several rare photographs of Joyce. The site also contains an interesting story from Professor Emeritus M.H. Abrams on how the collection arrived at Cornell in the 1950s. [KMG]

Eagleton Institute of Politics [pdf]

Established in 1956 on the campus of Rutgers University, the Eagleton Institute of Politics is dedicated to exploring state and national politics through research, education, and public service. Under the directorship of Professor Ruth B. Mandel, the Institute contains a number of centers and programs, such as the Center for American Women and Politics and the Center for Public Interest Polling. Visitors can peruse the sites of each of these specialized areas, or they may also want to begin by looking over the "Take Note" area on the Institute's home page. Recently featured items in this section include the results of a survey of college students' beliefs about the political system and a full-length report on the state of philanthropy in New Jersey. The site also includes materials about upcoming events at the Institute, along with opportunities for students. [KMG]

General Interest

Astrobiology Magazine

With a sponsor such as NASA and a tagline that reads, "Search for Life in the Universe", the bar is set fairly high for the online Astrobiology magazine, and the results are quite nice. Produced by Helen Matsos, the magazine has been in existence since 2001, and contains thousands of short pieces about a compelling variety of topics, including life on Mars, extrasolar life, stellar evolution, and climate. From the site's homepage, visitors can peruse articles, view a list of "hot topics", and sign up to receive new editions of the magazine as they are published electronically. The site also has several thematic areas, including the compelling one dedicated to art of astrobiology. Here, visitors can look at visualizations of terrestrial climate, representations of Mars in pop culture, and other such items. The site is rounded out by a very well-designed search engine and an "On this day in..." feature that provides information about important dates in astrobiology. [KMG]

Federal Trade Commission [pdf]

The work of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has been going on since 1914, and this site offers access to information about the agency's regulatory activities and public outreach programs, such as the National Do Not Call Registry program. From the homepage, visitors can file a complaint with the FTC, learn about the world of antitrust regulation, and read transcripts of their most recent hearings and workshops. The section dedicated to offering transcripts of recent conferences and roundtables is very helpful, and contains remarks and presentations given on such timely topics as "Perspectives on Marketing, Self-Regulation, and Childhood Obesity". The general public will definitely appreciate the section titled "Consumers", which contains edifying information about avoiding identify theft and vacation package scams. Finally, the site also contains much of this same material in Spanish. [KMG]

Colour Lovers

The endless hues and shades of colors fascinate many persons, including interior-designers, fashionistas, and those who study the workings of the human eye. This particular site is "a place to view, rate and review some lovely colours & palettes." The site contains a number of user forums where people may gather around the electronic glow of the screen to discuss and debate the merits of different colors, along with a place for users to submit their own fanciful and innovative colors. On the right-hand side of the home page, visitors can browse through the top-rated colors, newly added colors, and new palettes. Many of the colors have rather curious names, such as "wegobysundawn" and "victory or ignorance." Of course, there is space provided for visitors to give their own opinions on each color or palette. Overall, a compelling site, and one that will delight those with a penchant for the uses of color. [KMG]

The Cultures and History of America: The Jay I. Kislak Collection at the Library of Congress [Macromedia Flash Player]

The Library of Congress has a number of important documents and historical items due to the kindness of persons who have amassed broad collections over the years, and then subsequently donated them for the use and consideration of the general public. One such gift is that which is profiled in this fine online collection. The Jay I. Kislak Collection includes a number of rare maps and books, and is largely focused around the early years of European exploration and early Florida, the Caribbean, and Mesoamerica. Moving through the collection, visitors can view a selection of these fine documents, including a 1493 transcription of Columbus's account of his 1492 voyage and a handbook for priests created by Dominicans working in the Guatemalan highlands. One real find on this site is the interactive presentation of the famed 1678 work, The Buccaneers of America. Through this presentation, visitors can listen along to a reading of various passages from this extremely dramatic account of Alexander Exquemelin (who is thought to be a French surgeon who worked with buccaneers) and view the pages of this original document. [KMG]

Markkula Center for Applied Ethics [pdf, Microsoft PowerPoint]

Based at Santa Clara University, the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics concerns itself primarily with investigating such topics as character education, global leadership, business ethics, and health care ethics. From the Center's homepage, visitors can peruse many of these topics, and also locate useful teaching resources that will be of use to those who hope to incorporate some of these themes into their own courses. The Publications area is worth a look as it contains articles on such topics as "Is it Ethical to Shop at Wal-Mart?" and "Dying with Dignity." For visitors who plan on visiting over an extended period of time, there is a section on the homepage that allows them to quickly access the most recent materials added to the site. The site is rounded out by a thematic organization of helpful external links, organized around such topics as ethical theory and public policy. [KMG]

First-Person Narratives of the American South

From its online beginnings in 1995, the Documenting the American South initiative at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has created a number of helpful digitized collections that document the Southern perspective on a wide range of areas of American history and culture. One of the project's latest additions is the First-Person Narratives of the American South collection, which contains diaries, autobiographies, travel accounts, and ex-slave narratives written by Southerners. The collection contains dozens of these invaluable primary documents, including Eliza Andrews' "The War-Time Journal of a Georgia Girl, 1864-1865" and Sara Agnes Rice's "My Day: Reminiscences of a Long Life". Visitors may feel free to browse the collection alphabetically, as they will no doubt find much of interest, particularly if they are generally interested in the history of the American South. [KMG]

Network Tools

Tristana Reader 4.0

Now that more and more websites offer a variety of dynamic materials (such as podcasts and the like), it is increasingly more common to feel a bit overwhelmed by the sheer volume of material on the Web. More discerning users will appreciate Tristana Reader 4.0, which will allow them pull content directly from the Web to their desktops. The application also allows users the ability to set preferences so that they will be alerted to content changes at any given site. The program is also spam-proof, which will be a welcome relief to many. This version of Tristana Reader is compatible with Windows 98 or newer. [KMG]

ZoneAlarm 6.0.631.003

The Zone Alarm application was created to protect DSL-or cable-connected PCs from hackers, and this latest version contains four valuable security services. They include a firewall, an application control, an Internet lock, and zones. Working in tandem, these interlocking devices block Internet traffic while the computer is unattended and also monitor all activity on a given computer. This version of ZoneAlarm is compatible with Windows 98 or newer. [KMG]

In The News

Americas Second City proposes United States tallest building

Planned tower would be tallest in U.S.
Chicago plans 115-story skyscraper
For Chicago, no superlative too grandiose,0,3205598.column?coll=ny-leadnationalnews-headlines
How tall is too tall?,1,4324057.story?coll=chi-news-hed
Santiago Calatrava [Macromedia Flash Player]
Trump Chicago [Macromedia Flash Player]

As the birthplace of the skyscraper, it seems almost fitting that plans were announced this week heralding a proposed 115-story skyscraper on Chicagos lakefront. The team behind the project includes Christopher Carley, a local developer, and the renowned starchitect, Santiago Calatrava. Renderings of the proposed skyscraper (which would be the tallest in the United States) indicate that the slender structure would rise close to 2000 feet in the air and that its total square footage would be a very modest 920,000 square feet. The building, which would be called the Fordham Spire, faces an uphill battle, in no small part due to the fact that similarly proposed projects in Chicago have faced massive financing challenges. In a recent interview, Carley indicated that the presence of Calatrava would be of great assistance in securing monies for the project, and that he would like to get started as soon as possible. Carley may face another obstacle in the form of residents in the other tony highrises in the area, many of whom have expressed strong resistance to previous projects in their neighborhood. Of course, other skeptics have emerged, including Donald Trump (who is also building one of his signature buildings in Chicago). Trump noted that, In this climate, I would not want to build that building. Nor would I want to live in that building.

The first link leads to a comprehensive news story on the proposed skyscraper from this Tuesdays Chicago Sun-Times, complete with a few choice photographic renderings of the yet-to-be built structure. The second link will take users to a CNN piece about the shimmering structure from this Wednesdays online edition. The third link will take interested parties to a commentary piece on the nature of Chicagos superlatives," offered by Mary Schmich of the Chicago Tribune. The fourth link leads to an editorial from the Tribune on the whole concept of skyscrapers and such tall buildings, and closes by saying that, What ultimately constitutes Chicago or any city is the spaces between those buildings. The fifth link leads to the official website for Santiago Calatrava. Here visitors may learn about his previous works and his overall design philosophy as expressed through his various commissions. The sixth and final link leads to the homepage of the Trump Chicago complex, which is currently under construction along the Chicago River. [KMG]

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From The Scout Report, Copyright Internet Scout Project 1994-2005.

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Copyright Internet Scout Project, 1994-2005. The Internet Scout Project (, located in the Computer Sciences Department of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, provides information about the Internet to the U.S. research and education community under a grant from the National Science Foundation, number NCR-9712163. The Government has certain rights in this material. Permission is granted to make and distribute verbatim copies of the entire Scout Report provided this paragraph, including the copyright notice, are preserved on all copies.

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