The Scout Report -- Volume 12, Number 20

May 19, 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

Documenting the American South: Oral Histories of the American South

The Documenting the American South project at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has created a number of very fine online exhibits and digital collections over the years, and this recent addition certainly follows in that tradition. Working with funds provided by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, this pilot project includes 21 interviews related to environmental transformations that have changed the lives of North Carolinians over the period 1985 to 2000. Visitors to the site can browse the collection by interviewee, interviewer, and also learn a bit more about how the collection was created. The interviews are quite distinctive, and include commentaries on the ways in which the construction of a major freeway affected daily lives and another set of participants describe their stories of survival after Hurricane Floyd came through the eastern part of the state. One nice touch on the site is that visitors can download the complete audio file of each interview or just listen online while following along with a complete text transcript. [KMG]

National Institutes of Health: Office of Science Education [pdf, Real Player]

Created in 1991, the Office of Science Education (OSE) is a division of the National Institutes of Health that is primarily concerned with both encouraging science literacy in adults and children as well as attracting young people to biomedical and behavioral science careers. For educators and the curious public, the site is truly delightful, as it compiles its primary resources into topical areas, such as cell biology and bioethics. It also divides its materials into a list of resource formats, which include lesson plans, newsletters, and book covers. Additionally, visitors can search materials by the appropriate educational level, such as elementary or secondary. Along with this veritable treasure-trove of educational materials, there is the Research Results for the Public area. Here, visitors can read fact sheets that decipher some of the more complex medical research from highly technical language into a language that is both lucid and accessible. [KMG]

National Academy of Engineering [pdf, Windows Media Player, Real Player]

The National Academy of Engineering (NAE) operates under the aegis of the National Academy of Sciences, which itself was created in 1863 by President Lincoln. NAE came into its own in 1964, when it was created to provide engineering leadership and expertise in service to the United States. First-time visitors to the site may wish to look through the News section, as it offers a list of recent achievements and outreach efforts that have taken place under the NAE and its associates. The rest of the materials on the site are divided into sections that are quite familiar, including those that list the NAEs publications and their current initiatives. These are all fine sections, but the real treat here is the NAE websites listed on the left-hand side of the homepage. These sites include Engineer Girl and Technically Speaking. Engineer Girl is designed to encourage young women to consider careers in engineering and appropriately enough, there is a cornucopia of related information on such endeavors. The Technically Speaking website takes as its premise that it is increasingly important for persons in the 21st century to be technologically literate and savvy. To help achieve this goal, the site includes full-text reports that document the current state of technological literacy and a supplementary set of resources and links, including classroom activities and some fine general interest sites that deal with the history of technology and other germane subjects. [KMG]

Webcast.Berkeley [iTunes, Real Player]

Over the past few years, a number of colleges and universities have created initiatives to place some of their course materials online for the general public. MIT was one of the first to do so, and Berkeley has also started to offer a number of webcasts and podcasts of select courses on this website. Drawing on the strengths of the Berkeley Multimedia Research Center, they have begun to place some of these excellent materials on this site. On their well-designed homepage, visitors can either look at an archive of course webcasts and podcasts or take a gander at the archived webcasts that feature prominent speakers who have visited the campus. The events archive dates back to a January 2002 appearance by Bill Clinton, and includes dozens of interesting talks and lectures. Visitors can learn about each event in the information section, and for some, they have the option to download the audio portion of each event. The course section is equally delightful, as visitors can view webcasts here, and also download podcasts. The range of courses here is quite broad, and includes lectures on general chemistry, wildlife ecology, and surprise, surprise: foundations of American cyberculture. Finally, visitors can also subscribe to event and course podcasts. [KMG]

Economic Statistics Briefing Room [pdf]

While more than a few curmudgeons have offered their honest opinions about statistics, we here at the Scout Report like to provide our readers with the facts and let them decide on their own. Fortunately, there are sites like the Economic Statistics Briefing Room provided by the White House. Here, visitors can peruse sections that offer information on income, output, transportation, and prices. Drawing on the research and statistical databases of several dozen federal agencies (including the National Agricultural Statistics Services), visitors can view tables and charts that offer such timely material as crude oil prices, poverty rates, and household wealth. Within each section, visitors can view summary statistics, and then if they wish, they can proceed to the homepage of the agency that provided each set of information. [KMG]

General Interest

Center for Black Music Research

Located at Columbia College in Chicago, the Center for Black Music Research (CBMR) has been in existence since 1983, and is devoted to collecting materials about black music the world over. With this broad and compelling mission, it is not surprising to learn that they have an extensive library with over 2900 catalogued books, 11000 sound recordings, and 3300 scores and pieces of sheet music. Visitors seeking to do research at the CBMR can search their on-line catalog before making a visit to Chicago, and also read about their grant and fellowship opportunities. For the more casual visitor, there is a nice section that offers some brief, yet thorough, definitions of various musical styles and genres from blues to zydeco. And for those seeking some reading or research materials, there are a number of good bibliographies of seminal titles in the field. Finally, there is a special section dedicated to the famed De Paur Infantry Chorus, which toured the world presenting African American music from 1944 to 1957. [KMG]

The Great Seattle Fire

It seems that many acts of destruction (human or otherwise) seem to acquire the seemingly inappropriate prefix of great, and the tremendous fire that swept through Seattle on June 6, 1889 is no exception. Like the fires that consumed other cities such as Chicago and London, the Great Seattle Fire was the cumulative product of a number of factors working in the favor of such an incendiary blaze. The summer in Seattle had been a rather dry one when a glue pot boiled over in Victor Clairmonts woodworking shop in downtown Seattle that fateful afternoon. The fires spread quickly, Seattles water supply was more than problematic, and some 15 hours later, 25 city blocks had been completely destroyed. Out of this tragedy came a drive to rebuild, and Seattle went on to become the most successful metropolis in the Pacific Northwest. The photographic documentation of the aftermath of this event is offered here online in a lovely collection created by the University of Washington Libraries Digital Collections initiative. Here visitors can browse through a number of collections that contain images from the likes of photographers William F. Boyd and Ashael Curtis. The Prosch Seattle View collection is definitely worth a look, as it contains 26 rather dramatic views of the urban landscape during this tumultuous time. [KMG]

Travel, Tourism, and Urban Growth in Greater Miami: A Digital Archive

Convincing people to move to new places to encourage growth and development is about as old as the hills. Of course, the practice has gotten more sophisticated in the past hundred years, and glossy magazine features proclaiming Americas Top 100 Places certainly add a bit of fire to the flame of boosterism and place-promotion. There are many cities that rely on these techniques to gain new and successful residents, and this fine digital exhibition created by Professor Robin Bachin of the University of Miami looks at how different groups of individuals promoted Miami over the past two centuries. The site starts with a good essay that introduces visitors to the practice of boosterism as practiced in and around Miami, complete with a nice selection of visual ephemera. Visitors can then proceed through a rather authoritative timeline that tracks a host of activities in and around Miami related to development and tourism from the early 1800s to the late 1990s. The site also contains thematic sections that address the advertising, architecture, environmental land use, and migration elements that came together to create contemporary Miami. For visitors whose interest in this subject is piqued by all of this, there is a nice bibliography that lists relevant books, websites, newspaper archives, and so on. Overall, this is a well-thought out site that could very well serve as a model for other institutions seeking to create similar sets of collections. [KMG]

Royal Photographic Society

Chartered in 1853, the Royal Photographic Society is one of the worlds most renowned photographic organizations and counts among its members both amateur and seasoned photographers of all ages and backgrounds. Throughout the course of an average year, the Society sponsors 250 events across the United Kingdom, including workshops, lectures, as well as other activities through some of its overseas chapters as well. Visitors to the site can learn about joining the Society and also learn a bit more about some of their educational opportunities. One feature of the site that is worth a look is their official online forum, which offers visitors the chance to submit questions about photography equipment, the history of photography, and of course, any number of how-to type queries. Not surprisingly, the site also contains a Portfolio section that contains photograph portfolios created by Society members and posted online here. [KMG]

Virtual Visit of the Canadian Space Agency [Macromedia Flash Player]

Imagine if you will, taking a tour of the Canadian Space Agencys headquarters in Longueuil, Quebec. After that thought passes, then imagine being led through some of the fascinating areas of these same headquarters that are normally off-limits to the public, guided by a narrator whose voice closely resembles the authoritative tone reserved for movie trailers. This is exactly what you, gentle reader, will find upon arriving on the homepage of this site. The site opens up with a series of screens that zoom the viewer onto the Agencys visually stunning complex, then proceeds to visit some of the interesting areas within that same edifice. Along the way, visitors will find their way to the optics laboratory, the Mars greenhouse, and the mission control centre, along with another dozen or so locations. During this visit, visitors can read a brief description of each locale and follow along with the aforementioned knowing voice of the previously mentioned narrator. [KMG]

Hatsheput: From Queen to Pharaoh [Real Player]

Rather than mounting an online exhibition to accompany Hatsheput: From Queen to Pharaoh, the Metropolitan Museum has chosen instead to provide a series of auxiliary features on its Web site. For example, there is an information page, which explains that Hatshepsut, who ruled Egypt for 20 years (ca. 14731458 B.C.), was the first important female ruler known to history. A special audio feature narrated by actor Sam Waterston can be listened to as a podcast, downloadable MP3 file, or 12-minute streaming audio. There is also a 19-image slide show that includes sculpted portraits of Hatshepsut, jewelry, vases, as well as chairs and other household items. Finally, there are links with ordering information for the exhibition catalog and other exhibition-related items from the Museum store.

Network Tools

Avant Browser 10.2 build 52

It seems that if you build a better browser these days, the world will beat a path to your door, and the latest release of Avant Browser is certainly worth at least a look. The look of the browser is quite appealing, as is the tabbed-browsing feature that lets users switch quickly among websites. In a neat twist, this latest version also remembers which windows were open the last time you used the program. For those concerned with the pesky specter of pop-up ads and their kind, Avant Browser does a good job of keeping such unpleasant aspects of the browsing experience at bay. This version is compatible with computers running Windows 98 and newer. [KMG]

Focus/SIS 1.0

A number of open source projects have been developed to help educators and administrators manage student data, and Focus/SIS 1.0 is one of those projects that deserves a closer look. With this application, users can utilize the web-based interface to create grade books, submit attendance, generate reports, and so on. This version of Focus/SIS 1.0 is compatible with computers running Mac OS X 10.1 and newer. [KMG]

In The News

Colleges and universities celebrate commencement with pomp, circumstance, and more than a bit of controversy

Cosby gives a Call Out

Colorfully, Some Students Protest McCain at Columbia Ceremony

McCain Urges Respect for Different Views

The Art of the Commencement Speech

To the Grads: Platitudes with Attitude [Real Player]

The Halls of Ivy [Real Player, iTunes]

As anyone involved in the world of higher education can tell you, commencement time has arrived once again. Many people look upon the events surrounding such festivities with rose-colored glasses, choosing only to take with them the fond memories of final moments with college chums and a teary-eyed glance back at the Old Main. For others, its a time to cast a critical glance at whomever the administration has asked to deliver the commencement speech to graduates, family, and friends on that all-important day. The week began on a high note for some graduates as few complained about an appearance by former Presidents Bill Clinton and George Bush at Tulane University. After their remarks were met with rousing applause, Ellen DeGeneres made a surprise appearance, noting that she never passes up an opportunity to follow two presidents. Of course, those in the know had to figure things were going to take a turn for the worse when Senator Edward M. Kennedys plane was struck by lightning on its way from a commencement speech at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts. Later in the week, both Senator John McCain and Bill Cosby were met with a variety of responses as they gave commencement speeches at Columbia University and the University of the District of Columbia, respectively. At Columbia, McCain was chastised for his support for the Iraq war, and while Cosby was met with a much warmer reception, as there were a number of people who remained supportive of his call out to the African-American community. But still others leveled claims that his previous comments about poorer African-Americans were elitist and mean-spirited. Commencements across the United States continue over the next few weeks, so ample opportunities to view such elaborate and occasionally contentious ceremonies exist in many quarters of the nation. [KMG]

The first link will take visitors to a piece offered in this Tuesdays USA Today that talks about Cosbys recent commencement speech at the University of the District of Columbia. The second link leads to an article in this Wednesdays New York Times by Patrick Healy that provides material on how some Columbia students chose to protest (and support) the appearance of McCain at their commencement activities. The third link from the Washington Post offers some excerpts from McCains remarks this past week at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, which was the source of much consternation and debate as well. For those seeking to examine some commencement speeches of yore, the fourth link leads to a site provided by, which contains several dozen speeches offered by Steve Jobs, Lewis Lapham, Cornel West, and others. The fifth link will whisk users away to a delightful piece by Scott Simon which offers some platitudes for graduating students in the class of 2006 to chew on if their speaker fails to show up. The last and final link leads to a delightful archive of the radio show Halls of Ivy, which ran from 1950 to 1952 and featured the Academy-Award winning actor Ronald Colman and his wife, Benita Hume. For a glimpse of life in the old college days, it is without equal, and to listen to Colmans voice is worth the price of admissionwell, it would be if the show cost anything. [KMG]

Below are the copyright statements to be included when reproducing annotations from The Scout Report.

The single phrase below is the copyright notice to be used when reproducing any portion of this report, in any format:

From The Scout Report, Copyright Internet Scout Project 1994-2006.

The paragraph below is the copyright notice to be used when reproducing the entire report, in any format:

Copyright Internet Scout Project, 1994-2006. 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.

Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, or the National Science Foundation.

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

Internet Scout Project Team
Max GrinnellEditor
Chanda HaldermanManaging Editor
Rachael BowerCo-Director
Edward AlmasyCo-Director
Debra ShapiroContributor
Nathan JohnsonInternet Cataloger
Michael GrossheimSystem Administrator
Kyle MannaTechnical Specialist
Christopher SpoehrWeb Developer
David MayerWeb Site Designer

For information on additional contributors, see the Internet Scout Project staff page.