The Scout Report -- Volume 12, Number 12

March 24, 2006

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

The Berkeley Roundtable on the International Economy [pdf]

Created in 1982, The Berkeley Roundtable on the International Economy (BRIE) is an interdisciplinary research project that focuses on international economic competition and the development and application of advanced technologies. Moving between the worlds of the private sector to interactions with fellow scholars and policymakers, BRIE has created a number of thought-provoking documents for the web-browsing public and placed them on this site. Visitors who require a bit more background material may want to first visit the About BRIE area which includes information on their objectives and research mission. After taking a look at the materials there, interested parties should proceed to the Publications area, which contains a very nice working papers area. Here visitors can download such intriguing titles as Transforming Politics in a Digital Era and Boom Boxes: Shipping Containers and Terrorists. [KMG]

Early U.S.-Korea Diplomatic Relations [pdf, Macromedia Flash Player]

Many aspects of history can be examined through the use of visual materials, and certainly the emerging relationship between the United States and Korea is no exception. Drawing on a collection of photographs and sketches executed by Willard Dickerman Straight in 1904 and 1905, this comprehensive exhibit from Cornell University uses these materials to create a visual and contextual narrative of Korea at a most critical juncture in its more recent, modern history. First-time visitors will want to peruse the Flash-enabled timeline offered here to get a sense of the emerging relationship between these two nations during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Interestingly enough, Straight himself was a graduate of Cornell, and he also helped found The New Republic magazine. Additional information about Straight can be found in the biographical essay offered here, and offers a bit of helpful background before delving into the photographic database. [KMG]

Status of Technology and Digitization in the Nations Museums and Libraries [pdf]

Professionals working in the fields of information and library science, along with museology, might frequently find themselves asking: What are other institutions doing in terms of technology and digitization projects? They need wonder no longer, as the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) has completed an update to their 2001 survey on the subject. The survey was conducted among five primary groups which included public libraries, academic libraries, archives, and museums. They followed up their data collection phase with telephone discussions with key participants within the primary groups in order to craft this report. As presented here, the report is broken down into a number of sections, including a very helpful area of key findings as well as a methodology section. Some of these findings include the observation that digitization activities have increased for all groups, though many of these groups do not solicit user feedback to determine what their specific digitization needs might be. Overall, this is a tremendously useful document, and one that will be of particular interest to those who set or study policies at these types of organizations. [KMG]

AmphibiaWeb [Real Player, Quick Time]

In a previous time, it was a bit more tedious and difficult to keep track of the worlds species, and international collaboration was less than instantaneous. This recent endeavor, presented by the Digital Library Project at Berkeley and a host of supporting organizations, aims to provide the general public and scientists with a place to retrieve information related to amphibian biology and conservation. Currently, AmphibiaWeb contains material on 1265 species, along with 1173 distribution maps, 3449 literature references, 140 sound files, and 7188 photographs. With all this information, it helps to have a well thought out search engine, and a finding aid is available here as well. The database can be searched by genus, species, vernacular name, family, order, country, reason for population decline, and so on. The more casual visitor will also want to visit the more general About Amphibians section, then glide on over to the Calls and Video area. Here, one can look and listen to a number of creatures, including the call of the Aplastodiscus leucopygius, a type of Brazilian tree frog which sounds a bit like the warning signal emitted by a service vehicle backing into a dock. [KMG]

The Deadly Virus: The Influenza Epidemic of 1918 [pdf]

The history of human civilizations is rife with disastrous epidemics and plagues, a fact that is sometimes lost on modern-day pundits and commentators. Fortunately, the National Archives hasnt forgotten about one of historys more recent tragedies, namely the influenza epidemic of 1918. They recently created this engaging and fascinating collection of documents and photographs that offer a first-hand perspective on this epidemic. All told, the collection offered here contains several dozen primary source materials, including a directive from the Navy in order to educate sailors about the health risks of the disease and a photograph of Seattle police officers clad in protective face masks. One special feature of the site is that visitors can also order copies of the documents, if they are so inclined. Overall, this is a well-designed site that offers a glimpse of the American perspective on this rampant epidemic which eventually killed 20 million people across the world. [KMG]

Teachers Network [pdf]

Based in New York, the Teachers Network is an alliance of education professionals dedicated to disseminating best-practices throughout the world of public school education. On the homepage, visitors can click through a selection of lesson plans, essays by current teachers on their own experiences, and also read a list of grants available to those working in a number of disciplines, including social studies, language arts, and the sciences. The How To area is one that will be most helpful to new teachers, as it provides resources on managing a classroom, working with students families, and teaching literacy. The lesson plans area includes a nice search feature which allows users to search by subject and grade level, along with offering them the option to view the most popular teacher-created lesson plans. Some of these favorites include What Makes a Good Friend? and Breads Around the World. For educators and those with an interest in researching the realm of curriculum and instruction, this website is a real find. [KMG]

General Interest

Goyas Last Works

Considered to be the last of the Old Masters, Francisco de Goya y Lucientes has been the subject of a number of insightful retrospectives and special exhibitions over the past decade. Designed to complement a current exhibition at the Frick Museum in New York, this online collection offers images taken from the last years of his distinguished career. Perhaps the most intriguing drawings offered here are his rather impressive miniature paintings, which he created during the winter of 1824-1825. Some of the subjects in these tiny renderings include a monk and an old woman and two children looking at a book, all completed on ivory. Each section of the collection includes a rather lengthy essay on the origin and creation of each work. For those persons who might be interested in visiting the exhibit in person, there are complete details available here as well. [KMG]

The Gnosis Archive [Real Player]

For those who might be unfamiliar with the religious tradition of Gnosticism, it is generally a historical term used to refer to a number of mystical sects or groups that were primarily active around the Mediterranean in the first few centuries of the Common Era. This site serves as one of the better online repositories of information related to this religious tradition, both in terms of its historical coverage, and in its exploration of the faith as it is currently practiced. First time visitors may want to move down the homepage to the What is Gnosticism? area to read a few introductory essays. Their Library section is quite diverse as well, and offers everything from the complete writings of G.R.S. Mead, a noted scholar of the tradition, to transcriptions of Gnostic scriptures and fragments. [KMG]

Institute for Global Ethics [pdf]

A number of organizations and think-tanks have taken on the most pressing questions of our day, but relatively few have addressed such quandaries as basic as Are there a core of shared, moral values? In 1990, the Institute for Global Ethics started with this crucial inquiry and expanded their scope to work towards understanding these values. From the homepage, visitors can read through their online resources, which include the Ethics Newsline (a weekly electronic newsletter), letters from their president, and a number of topical white papers. Some of these papers have rather compelling titles, such as Ethics and the Learned Professions and Corporate Social Responsibility and Peacebuilding: A Case for Action in Israel and the Palestinian Territories. Finally, users of the site may also wish to take a look at their calendar of upcoming seminars and lectures. [KMG]

This American Life [Real Player]

While most subscribers to the Scout Report may have heard of Chicago Public Radios own This American Life radio program, those who have not may truly appreciate an introduction to their delightful website. Since the show debuted in 1995, it has garnered a great deal of critical acclaim, both for its straight-ahead approach to crafting a narrative and for its diverse set of guest commentators, which include Sarah Vowell and David Sedaris, among others. Visitors to the site can learn about the shows host, Ira Glass on the Staff section, then proceed to the Our Favorites area to get a sense of what the show is all about. Some of the episodes featured here include the story of the people who come in and out of Chicago diner in a 24-hour period and the rather complex story that surrounded a yacht that supposedly belonged to Adolf Hitler. Of course, visitors can listen to all of these programs here in their archive, along with many others. [KMG]

Canada & The South African War, 1899-1902

As a former colony of Britain, Canada contributed a significant number of troops to Britains ongoing three year conflict within South Africa, often referred to as the Boer War. At the time, a number of persons within Canada expressed doubt about why they were supporting such a distant military venture, and even Prime Minister Sir Wilfried Laurier was skeptical. This online exhibit from the Canadian War Museum explores Canadian involvement in this military action, and includes sections that provide information about the units and personalities involved throughout the conflict. Visitors can also view images of some of the awards that were associated with this conflict, such as the Queens South African Medal and the Queens Scarf of Honour, which were crocheted by Queen Victoria herself. The site is rounded out by a lengthy and well-composed essay by Dr. Cameron Pulsifer that provides a nice historical sketch of Canadas commitment to the South African War. [KMG]

Bellini: Creating & Re-creating [Macromedia Flash Player]

Dedicated to creating devotional images and painting altarpieces, Giovanni Bellinis work is a primary example of the early Renaissance artistic tradition that came of age in Venice. The Indianapolis Museum of Art has a number of works by this master, and they have drawn on these works to create this insightful exhibit that explores the paintings and the creative process by which they were created. Through the four marvelous sections of this site, visitors can learn about the process involved in his studio by which copies were made of his works, and also how some of his creations (such as his famed Madonna) have been preserved for future generations to enjoy. One section that should not be missed is the Invisible Bellini section, where visitors can learn about what lies beneath the visible surface of his masterworks. [KMG]

Network Tools


If you have grown weary of newsprint coming off on your hands or just carting around a number of books, may prove to be quite a handy application. From their homepage, visitors can download literally thousands of works for their PDAs. The titles range from the colonialist adventures of the King of the Khyber Rifles to Julius Caesar. The site also allows visitors to browse by title, author, or category. These downloads are compatible with all platforms, but of course, one must also have some type of PDA device or iPod. [KMG]

Download Accelerator Plus 8

When it comes to downloading much of anything off the Internet, its fair to say that the quicker, the better is an acceptable mantra. This latest version of Download Accelerator Plus is one such application that will help with most downloads, and it also features multi-connections for optimal downloads. Of course, users can also resume broken downloads and preview files as they download. For those individuals concerned with their privacy, the application also contains a trace cleaner for discreet operations and a file-shredder. This version is compatible with all computers running Windows 98 and newer. [KMG]

In The News

Forum draws attention to water supply in the developing world

Worlds poor rely on bottled water

Big water companies quit poor countries,,1736649,00.html?gusrc=rss

10,000 protest at water summit

Water with strings attached,,1736247,00.html

4th World Water Forum [Real Player, pdf]
World Water Day [pdf]

It goes without saying that water is an essential aspect of everyday life, but for literally billions of people in the world, securing even small amounts of water is tremendously difficult, if not impossible. As the 4th World Water Forum concluded this week in Mexico City, there were a number of questions that remained on the minds of a number of organizations, policy groups, protestors, and other concerned parties. One question that was particularly vexing was the fact that in recent years, a number of large private multinational companies had been purchasing municipal water systems, particularly in the developing world, and then making significant rate increases. This development was not one lost on concerned citizens and activists either, as close to 10,000 demonstrated in Mexico City, chanting, Water is not for sale! While well intended, the chant might have been a bit inaccurate, as bottled water is frequently for sale in the developing world, and often it is the only kind that is drinkable. Of course, as one official pointed out at the Forum, bottled water is exponentially more expensive than providing tap water through a municipally held water facility. [KMG]

The first site will take visitors to a good article on the provisioning of water by multinational companies to the worlds poor from this Wednesdays San Jose Mercury-News. The second link leads visitors to a piece from The Guardian, which reviews a recent report from the UN that discusses how a number of companies have withdrawn from the business of supplying water in the developing world. The third link leads to a piece from Al-Jazeera on the recent protest at the World Water Forum in Mexico City. The fourth link whisks visitors away to a trenchant opinion piece about the lack of safe water supplies in the developing world authored by Joanne Green, a public policy adviser at the Tearfund organization. The fifth link leads to the homepage of the 4th World Water Forum. Here, visitors can learn about the different sessions offered at the Forum, and also review a number of working papers and archived webcasts. The final link leads to the homepage of World Water Day, where visitors can learn about the event, and examine a number of fact sheets on the state of the worlds water. [KMG]

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