The Scout Report -- Volume 12, Number 17

April 28, 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 Mind of Leonardo: The Universal Genius at Work [Windows Media Player, QuickTime]

The phrase renaissance man is bandied about a great deal these days, and by this point in history, few may remember what the phrase actually means. Leonardo da Vinci was just such a man, and his genius and his depth of mind are explored in this lovely exhibit offered by the Institute and Museum of the History of Science. Here, visitors can view some of his famous drawings, including those he did in the years before departing for Milan in 1482 and his artistic renderings of the nature of motion. Throughout the exhibit, visitors can read succinct and lucid descriptions of these works and the principles they are meant to illustrate. One particularly engrossing section is dedicated to the sciences of painting. It should not be missed, nor should the rest of this glorious exploration of but a few small morsels of da Vincis works. Accordingly, the site is also available in Italian. [KMG]

Wisconsin Historical Society: Freedoms Journal [pdf]

The Wisconsin Historical Society has created a number of rather unique online collections over the past few years. Drawing on their vast holdings that include the United Artists archives and the papers of many notable Americans, these collections have proved to be of great use to scholars and members of the public who may not be able to make a journey to Madison. This recent collection contains digitized versions of the entire run of Freedoms Journal, which was the first African-American owned and operated newspaper published in the United States. As one might imagine, the paper covered a broad range of national and international topics, and many impassioned editorials denouncing slavery and other despicable injustices. All told, there are 104 issues available here, and they should not be missed. The website is rounded out by a selection of external links, including one that provides information about the PBS film, The Black Press: Soldiers without Swords. [KMG]

A Dancers Journal: Learning to Perform the Dances of Martha Graham [Macromedia Flash Player]

Learning to perform the intricate dances choreographed by the late Martha Graham can be a seemingly indomitable task. To many outside of the field of dance, the process may seem impenetrable. This situation has in part been remedied by the creation of this remarkable website which offers the experiences of Jordy Kandinsky (the newest member of the Martha Dance Graham Company), as she is going through this very process. Upon entering the site, visitors can enter Jordys locker to read through her notes on working on such productions as Diversions of Angels, Lamentation, and Appalachian Spring. Of course, such a site wouldnt be complete without a selection of video and audio clips, and this one includes excerpts from all of these ballets, along with a very special clip of Ms. Graham herself performing movements from Lamentation. [KMG]

The quest to find out about ones ancestors is, if you will excuse the expression, as old as the hills. It appears throughout human history with great regularity, and manifests itself in a number of well-known places, such as the extensive genealogies that appear in the Old Testament. A number of websites are specifically intended to help modern-day folk with the search for their own ancestors, and is a good place to start just such a quest. Visitors to the site can type in their family surname and add information to other fields, and then wait as their search engine returns potentially useful material. After performing a basic search, visitors may want to go to the Learning Center section of the site. Here visitors can learn about creating genealogy podcasts, family trees, and so on. Another helpful area is the Ancestry Community section. Here visitors can post questions about their families on message boards and communicate with like-minded genealogy enthusiasts. Finally, it should be noted that some of these services do require a fee, though visitors can also sign up for a free trial. [KMG]

Monticello Explorer [Macromedia Flash Player]

As this page loads, visitors are treated to an architectural rendering of Thomas Jeffersons beloved Monticello. This is a lovely beginning to what is a thoroughly engaging and enriching online experience. From the homepage, visitors can explore the center of his Monticello plantation in glorious detail. What is perhaps most remarkable is that the mapping interface used to explore this area is rather user-friendly, along with containing a diverse set of data points that allow users to learn about the various elements of the built environment in the area. Not surprisingly, all of this is accompanied by brief essays on the general history and development of this famed complex. Next, visitors absolutely must take a look at the explore the house feature, where they can wander around a 3-D recreation of Jeffersons architectural masterpiece and learn about the objects and fascinating stories associated with this palatial home. As if that wasnt enough, visitors can also take three different tours that explore the home, domestic life at Monticello, and the gardens and grounds, all led by experts who work on the premises. Short of visiting the home itself in Virginia (which isnt a bad idea), this is certainly the next-best option. [KMG]

Center for Global Development [pdf]

A number of think-tanks and related organizations have sprung up in recent years with the intent of researching various development initiatives around the world. Founded in 2001, the Center for Global Development is just such an organization, and they are primarily concerned with offering .practical, creative solutions to the challenges that global interdependence poses to the developing countries, starting with debt. So far, they have assembled an impressive list of research fellows and partners, a fact that is apparent upon visiting their homepage. Visitors would do well to start by looking through their Initiatives area, which offers brief introduction to their primary thematic areas of interest, which include debt relief and population dynamics. Along with this area, a nice complement is the section dedicated to providing access to their publications, which include working papers on infrastructure development in Africa and corruption and governance in public health care systems. Rounding out the site are areas where visitors can sign up to receive email updates and sections dedicated to their in-house blogs. [KMG]

General Interest

The Adoption History Project

Drawing on a rich selection of documents, images, and bibliographic resources, Professor Ellen Herman of the University of Oregon has created this remarkable website that highlights the people, organizations, topics, and studies that shaped child adoption in theory and practice during the twentieth century in the United States. The site is divided into six primary sections, including an index. First-time visitors will want to start by taking a look through the timeline, which offers information about some key moments in the history of adoption, including the 1851 Adoption of Children Act passed in Massachusetts. Moving on, visitors can learn about prominent people and influential organizations in adoption history. These summaries include hyper-text links, and document excerpts of note. The Further Reading area is quite thorough, and it offers a list of additional primary and secondary sources on a variety of related topics. [KMG]

The Freedom Trail Foundation

Long before the preservation ethic and heritage tourism worlds were so closely intertwined, an enterprising journalist named William Schofield made a suggestion in the Boston Herald-Traveler to create a historical walking trail the city that winds by some of the citys primary historical sites. Seven years later, the Freedom Trail was a reality, and it remains one of the citys most popular attractions. For the past fifty years, The Freedom Trail Foundation has been actively involved in promoting and preserving the historic character of Boston, and visitors will be delighted to know that they can learn about the Freedom Trail and the Foundation on this site. As visitors click on the See the 16 sites section, they will be directed to an area where they can download a walking map of the trail (which includes such landmarks as Paul Reveres House and the Old North Church), and learn more about Boston during the Revolutionary Era. The site also contains a section for educators, which features lesson plans and field trip ideas for those who are intent on bringing students to the Freedom Trail. The site is rounded out by a very nice calendar of events and a selection of helpful links to other germane sites. [KMG]

Matters of Art

A number of artists organizations and related groups have made vigorous forays into the online world. Some have chosen to create specific works for the web, and some have used the web to disseminate information about various artistic movements, or in some cases, just to offer information about upcoming events and shows. This particular site makes the claim that it is the first art e-zine based India, and it is certainly off to a nice start. Launched in January 2006, the homepage includes a number of news stories on Indian art, along with offering both an artist profile and a monthly in-depth interview with an Indian artist. The Features area is a real treat, as it offers pieces on the exhibition of Indian contemporary art in Paris, the use of nudity in Indian performance art, and an analysis of paintings and sculptures created by Chintan Upadhyay. If that is not enough to whet the appetite of those visiting the site, there are also a number of exhibition and book reviews offered here for their consideration. [KMG]

Pew Global Attitudes Project [pdf]

Most social scientists will tell you that it is fairly hard to get any type of meaningful sense of public opinion on any number of important issues, so it is with great interest that the Scout Report has found the website of the Pew Global Attitudes Project. With principal funding from The Pew Charitable Trusts, the Global Attitudes Project was created with the intent to gauge public attitudes toward globalization, democracy, and a number of other crucial issues. To accomplish this task, they have conducted over 90,000 interviews in 50 countries over the past few years. So far, their work has yielded a number of intriguing reports which deal with subjects such as Islamic extremism, the war in Iraq, and prosperity in China. Visitors can view all of these reports on the site, and also take a look at the datasets used to craft each report. Finally, visitors can elect to sign up to receive email updates when new reports are released. [KMG]

Life of a Rock Star [Macromedia Flash Player]

While the title of such a site may result in raised eyebrows around certain computer screens, never fear: This site does not deal with the torrid tales of Led Zeppelin or the Rolling Stones, but rather with the brave individuals who made up the Geological Survey of Canada. As the introduction to this motley band, suggests: Their stories are fascinating; some are amusing and many just plain odd. In humorously sly sections that bear such names as Auditioning: the Right Man for the Job and Going Country: The Impact of Confederation, visitors will learn how the nation brought together such noted geologists as Sir William Logan, Alfred R.C. Selwyn, and John Macoun. In the area titled The Hits, visitors can learn about some of their greatest discoveries, including the large find at Petrolia, Ontario. Complemented by graphs and charts, the site and its various narratives are a real treat, and will draw in devoted scientists and the unconverted alike. [KMG]

These days, a number of individuals are making sure that the nations young people are not left behind, and in addition, a number of organizations have been passionately involved in these efforts as well. One such group is Achieve, which was founded in 1996 by the nations governors and business leaders. As their website notes, Achieve serves as a significant national voice for quality in standards-based education reform. Most visitors will want to start out by taking a look at the How Does Your State Stack Up? feature. Here visitors can see how their states high school policies measure up with the demands of college and work, and also how well students in each state are progressing through the educational system in general. The site also offers access to Perspective, Achieves monthly e-newsletter which covers such topics as college readiness and post-college job expectations. Overall, this is a most useful site for both persons interested in the overall state of education in the United States as well as policy makers in this field. [KMG]

Network Tools

Free Download Manager

While there may in fact be no such thing as a free lunch, a certain well-known economist (and regular readers of the Scout Report) might be pleasantly surprised to learn that there is such a thing as a quality free download manager available for their consideration. This application allows users to retrieve files and entire websites up to 600 percent faster, and can be integrated seamless with Opera, Mozilla, and other popular web browsers. The application also includes a feature that allows users to view the progress of their downloads and also determine the total traffic usage. This version is compatible with all computers running Windows 95 and newer. [KMG]

Shrook 2.5

If you are looking for a handy way to keep on top of the news and other such timely events, Shrook 2.5 will be a most welcome find. With Shrook, visitors can download any number of podcasts, and also receive instant notifications about new RSS items. Other features include the ability to scrapbook items for later and the ability to also use an integrated channel guide. This version is compatible with all computers running Mac OS X 10.3.9 or 10.4. [KMG]

In The News

Jane Jacobs, noted champion of cities and activist, passes away at age 89

Jane Jacobs: A Fearless Clarity

NPR: Urban visionary Jane Jacobs Dies [Real Player]

Home Remedies: The Vibrant Legacy of Jane Jacobs

All in the Planning, and Worth Preserving [Real Player]

The New Yorker: Cities and Songs

Jane Jacobs Interviewed by Jim Kunstler

By the late 1950s and early 1960s, many noted experts had determined that the American city was approaching a nadir of sorts. With a tremendous exodus of people and capital away from the central city, radical change was called for, and as a result, many cities found themselves beset by massive urban renewal projects designed to remedy a vast array of social ills. Amidst this din, a feisty and contrary voice arose: Jane Jacobs. Based on her own observations in and around Greenwich Village, Jacobs through her activism and well-known books (which included The Death and Life of Great American Cities) began to articulate a critique that, challenging the prevailing trends towards massive urban renewal, cities actually benefited from densely populated streets and byways. She often referred to the near-constant motion of these places as the sidewalk ballet, and she argued forcefully for sustaining such places at all costs. While she eventually left the United States to live in Toronto, she continued to advocate for the vibrancy of cities for the remainder of her life, as she went on to pen works that included The Economy of Cities, The Nature of Economics, and Dark Age Ahead. [KMG]

The first link will lead visitors to an encomium offered in this Thursdays Toronto Star by the former mayor of Winnipeg, Glen Murray, who observes that Jacobs was both an optimist and skeptic. The second link will take users to a brief audio news feature from National Public Radio that includes comments by Robert Caro on Jacobs legacy and work. The third link whisks users to a piece by Witold Rybczynski in this Wednesdays edition of Slate. In the piece, he discusses some of the criticism that has been leveled at her work over the years. The fourth link leads to a piece by the New York Times David W. Dunlap on Jacobs landmark work The Death and Life of Great American Cities, complete with an audio feature on her legacy. The fifth link leads to a short article from the May 17, 2004 New Yorker in which Jacobs returns to New York to offer comment on the state of urbanism in the city at that moment. The sixth link leads to a nice interview with Jacobs from 2000, conducted by another controversial commentator on American cities, James Kunstler. In the piece, they discuss Toronto and her early experiences in New York. [KMG]

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