The Scout Report -- Volume 12, Number 23

June 9, 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

OpenNet Initiative [pdf]

A number of organizations are actively concerned with monitoring the ways in which various governments have attempted to limit or restrict access to the Internet, and the OpenNet Initiative is one such group. Drawing on a collaborative partnership with four academic institutions (including the University of Toronto and Harvard Law School), the groups aim is to excavate, expose and analyze filtering and surveillance practices in a credible and non-partisan fashion. On their homepage, visitors will have access to a number of their research publications, case studies, their blog, and a selection of external links of note. Some of their more recent research papers include their investigation into the extent to which the Republic of Yemen controls the information environment of their citizens as well as similar efforts in Myanmar. Overall, the site will be of great interest to those with an interest in cyberlaw and related fields. [KMG]

Department of Education: Office of Vocational and Adult Education [pdf]

Given the increasing importance of vocational and adult education across the country, it makes sense that the U.S. Department of Education would have a separate office dedicated to this facet of higher education. As their site notes, it has information, research, and resources to help prepare young people and adults for postsecondary education, successful careers, and productive lives. The site contains areas dedicated to adult education and literacy, career and technical education, and their center for rural education. The Resources area is a good place to take a look at in detail, as it contains documents that address the rising expectations in vocational education and related topics. Finally, visitors can also learn about their ongoing initiatives, which include researching adolescent literacy and creating community technology centers. [KMG]

European Centre for Higher Education [pdf]

Founded in 1972 as an organization under the aegis of UNESCO, the European Centre for Higher Education was created with a view to promoting co-operation in higher education among Member States of the Europe Region. To this end, the organization works on projects that deal with the development and reform of higher education throughout the region and it coordinates its work and projects with other related agencies. On their homepage, visitors can read a brief history of the organization, learn more about its governance and structure, as well as their current activities. As might be expected, the publications area is quite strong, and it includes access to various monographs, quarterly reviews, and occasional papers generated by the Centre and its colleagues. One publication that is particularly worth a look is Higher Education in Europe, which can be viewed in its entirety back to the year 2000. [KMG]

Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life [pdf]

Launched in 2001, the Pew Form on Religion & Public Life seeks to promote a deeper understanding of issues at the intersection of religion and public affairs. To create and maintain such a dialogue, the Forum has created this website which functions as both a clearinghouse and as a town hall of sorts. The Forum focuses on four primary areas, including religion and politics, religion and the law, and religion and world affairs. With an elegantly designed homepage, visitors can view recent news highlights in the center of the page, or scan through some of the latest religious news of note on the right-hand side of the page. The most substantive material on the site can be found on the left-hand side of the homepage, which includes transcripts of recent events, survey results, and their press room. [KMG]

UN Chronicle

As the United Nations scope is quite global, one can expect that the issues and topics covered in their fine publication, the UN Chronicle, will be compelling material for persons interested in global policy issues and other such heady matters. On their rather full homepage, visitors can look up articles via a search engine, or by theme. For those who would rather look through the complete issue as a whole, the most recent issues are offered on the left-hand side of the homepage. Recent subjects covered within their virtual pages include HIV/AIDS prevention in Sierra Leone, the avian flu pandemic, and the vexing question of inequality. For those seeking historical coverage, the online archive dates back to 1997. [KMG]

Open Learning Initiative at Carnegie Mellon University

After MIT started providing access to a wide range of course materials on its OpenCourseWare website a few years ago, a number of other universities and colleges began to follow suit. As a result, users around the world now have access to a generous supply of such educational tools. One similar venture is the Open Learning Initiative website at Carnegie Mellon University, which provides access to a collection of cognitively informed online courses and course materials. Courses currently available online on the site include biology, calculus, chemistry, economics, and causal reasoning, along with a handful of others. For each course, visitors should read the background essay provided, as it will give an overview of what each course will cover, and how students can proceed. Of course, students are encouraged to give feedback as well. [KMG]

General Interest

State of the Union

Upon hearing about a site dedicated to State of the Union speeches, the eyes (and mousse) of some gentle readers may gravitate elsewhere. That would be a tremendous mistake in the case of this fine site, which presents graphical representations of how specific words have been used in these speeches over the years. Created by Brad Borevitz, the site draws on a number of open resources available on the web, and attempts to examine changes in the language of the State of the Union address over the past 200 years. From the homepage, visitors can move their mouse over the graph featured prominently, and in doing so, they can view a visual representation of which words were featured in each speech. Of course, visitors can also examine the grade level at which each speech was written. After clicking on a given word (such as tobacco, which appears quite frequently in President Tafts 1911 address), visitors will learn how many times the word was mentioned and where it appeared in the address. The entire site provides an interesting and unique glimpse into one type of content analysis, and one that is historically informed and quite relevant. [KMG]

Life After the Holocaust: Stories of Holocaust Survivors After The War [Macromedia Flash Player]

Perhaps no event in the 20th century (or in recorded history) has been as well-documented and archived as the Holocaust that took place in Nazi Germany during the late 1930s and 1940s. Many groups and organizations have sought to place some of the materials they have collected online, and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum is one such organization that should be applauded for their efforts, which include this recent online collection. This particular collection features interviews with six Holocaust survivors who came to the United States after their experiences. With a somber background of harvest-colored leaves on thin branches, the site presents narratives organized into one of several themes, including Speaking Out, Faith, Guilt & Responsibility, and Arriving in New York. Each interview is intercut with narration that helps explain the background of each survivors story, which helps unfamiliar listeners with the context of each experience. Tremendously powerful, this site could be used in the classroom with students, or as a learning tool in users homes. [KMG]

Musicians Local No. 627 and the Mutual Musicians Foundation: The Cradle of Kansas City Jazz [Macromedia Flash Player]

In this loving tribute, created by staff members at the University of Missouri-Kansas Citys Miller Nichols Library, visitors will gain a glimpse into the role that Musicians Local No. 627 and the Mutual Musicians Foundation played in supporting the growth of jazz in Kansas City throughout the early decades of the 20th century. As the site opens, visitors are treated to several tasty audio tracks, accompanied by primary documents of the period, including news clippings that announce events sponsored by the Local and photographs of some of the well-known bands that held court in that fair city. Each section is introduced with just such an opening, and in turn visitors can learn about the roots of the Kansas City jazz style, the early days of Local 627, and the rise of the territorial bands. Overall, this is a well-designed and visually engaging site, and one that warrants several visits. [KMG]

The Dick Thornburgh Papers

During his long and distinguished career, Dick Thornburgh has served as Attorney General of the United States and also completed two terms as the Governor of Pennsylvania. Given these positions, many will not be surprised to learn that the University of Pittsburgh has created this online collection of materials donated to the institution by Thornburgh himself. Over the past several years, the Digital Research Library at the institution has scanned over 37,000 pages of text and photographs for inclusion on this site. After reading the profile of Thornburgh in the About section, first-time visitors may wish to acquaint themselves with the various phases of his work in The Collection section, which includes sub-sections titled Early Legal Career, Pittsburgh Civic Activity, and Audio, which contains campaign speeches and the like. [KMG]

Taking the Wheel: Manufacturers Catalogs from the First Decade of American Automobiles

Back in the old days, before the creation of the Interstate Highway System and guarantee of a smooth roadbed, riding around in a flivver could be a hazardous proposition. Fortunately, prospective buyers could often consult any number of well-illustrated (and detailed) car catalogs provided by the dozens of automobile manufacturers that dotted the American landscape. A significant number of these catalogs have been digitized and placed online in the New York Public Librarys Digital Gallery for the general publics careful eye. Dating from 1909, these catalogs include some rather gorgeous color plates and diagrams. Visitors can search the entire collection using keywords, or just browse the source list, which includes offerings from Buick, Delaunay, and E.R. Thomas. One that should not be missed is the Maxwell catalog from 1909, which features cars that are described as Perfectly Simple and Simply Perfect. [KMG]

Tate Papers

Art museums often publish a journal, which includes papers primarily based on research about their specific collections. Since 2004, the Tate has been publishing its version online, as the Tate Papers. The tag-line on the Web site promises that the journal will cover a wide range of subjects: artists, works of art and archives in Tate's collection, art theory, visual culture, conservation and museology. A quick browse of the available papers shows that they do indeed live up to this claim. For example, a visitor can read an article on the difficulties of conserving the work of Joseph Beuys, an artist who often used organic materials that are bound to decompose (such as fat and wool), but who made contradictory statements regarding his willingness to allow his work to self-destruct. In the same issue (Autumn 2005) a visitor can read a much more traditional article researching the history and attribution of Thomas Gainsborough's 1781 portrait of Marie Jean Augustin Vestris, which passed from the hands of private collectors to the National Gallery in 1888, and has belonged to the Tate since 1955. [DS]

Network Tools

StudioLine Photo Basic 3.4.13

Summer is upon us, and it is certainly a time to make a visual record of family gatherings, trips to the Atlas Mountains, or other such occasions. StudioLine Photo Basic 3.4.13 is a good way to organize such photographic memories, as users can sort their images into albums and folders, and also utilize some of their 30 image tools to modify their existing images. These tools can assist with exposure problems and the seemingly omnipresent specter of red-eye. This version is compatible with computers running Windows 98 and newer. [KMG]

NetVeda Safety. Net 3.62

The idea behind the NetVeda Safety Net application is a simple one: to allow users to control access to certain websites on their computer and to maintain firewall protection in the process. Users of the application can define user access based on the time of day and for content, if they so desire. As might be expected, the application also contains privacy controls that block the sending of personal information and that can also generate activity reports. This version is compatible with all computers running Windows 95 and newer. [KMG]

In The News

Increased interest in going organic welcomed by some, raises eyebrows of others

The Green Invasion

Organic farming grows industrial edge

Mass Natural

Bad food Britain: Why are we scared of real food?

International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements

Local Harvest

The Food of the Gods

Thirty years or so ago, the organic movement in the United States was largely confined to a few locales long known for their independent spirit and open-mindedness, including Berkeley and Madison, Wisconsin. These days, it would seem that the once small chain retailers, such as Whole Foods, are popping up amidst both the urban and rural landscape almost like clockwork. Many commentators have noted that this change seems to be reflective of a general shift among consumers towards having a more enlightened sense of knowing what they are consuming, how it is produced, and so on. In recent weeks, news items have reported that Wal-Mart, a company that attracts attention at the drop of a hat, will be firmly entering the organic foodstuffs market. As with most projects Wal-Mart embarks on, they have made no small plans, and many fervent advocates of organic farming say that this development does not bode well for such endeavors. As the noted author and journalist Michael Pollan recently observed, Wal-Mart will buy its organic food from whichever producers can produce it most cheaply, and these will not be the sort of farmers you picture when you hear the word organic. The debate about this subject is certainly not a new one, but it is one that is worth watching closely. [KMG]

The first link will take users to a piece from this weeks online U.S. News & World Report that discusses various definitions of what exactly constitutes organic food products. The second link leads to a story from the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette by Terence Chea that offers some reporting on how organic agriculture is changing as demand for produce grown under such requirements has grown exponentially. The third link will take users to a very insightful piece by Michael Pollan on Wal-Marts entry into the organic food business, and how such a move will affect the future of organic agriculture. The fourth link leads to piece by Joanna Blythman on the nature of food production (and the general publics ignorance of such things) in Britain, which appeared in this Tuesdays Daily Mail. The fifth link leads to the homepage of the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements. Here visitors can learn about the organizations work throughout the world and also comb through their materials on organic standards. Those who are on the lookout for a local farmers market will delight in the offerings on the LocalHarvest website, which is the sixth link offered here. On their site, visitors can locate organic farms, markets, and also read their newsletter. The final link leads to a complete online version of H.G. Wells noted novel The Food of the Gods, which was one of the first works to address the possible dangers of what some today like to call Frankenfoods. [KMG]

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

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