The Scout Report -- Volume 12, Number 41

October 13, 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

Barnard Center for Research on Women [Macromedia Flash Player, pdf]

Started in 1971, the Barnard Center for Research on Women has welcomed a wide range of visionaries and public intellectuals in recent years, including Anna Deavere Smith, Sister Helen Prejean, Winona LaDuke, and Lani Guinier. Along with their very fine lecture series and other such public programming, they have developed a delightful website which contains a number of features that can only be found in the virtual world. One such resource is the webjournal Scholar & Feminist Online, which was started in 2000. With a mix of essays and informed commentaries by such persons as Anna Quindlen, each issue takes on a different theme, such as the cultural value of sport. One of the other quite handy additional resources is the guide to New York Citys Women and Social Justice Organization. [KMG]

J-Learning [pdf]

A lot of pundits have talked about liberating mass forms of media, so that everyday folk can participate in various journalistic endeavors. The idea is generally referred to as community journalism, and there are a few groups out there that have developed some fine resources for those who want to bring these opportunities to different communities. One such resource is the J-Learning website, which is housed at The Institute for Interactive Journalism at the University of Marylands College of Journalism. Under the direction of Jan Schaffer and her colleagues, they have worked together to create this community journalism primer. The site is divided into sections such as Plan It!, Build It!, and of course, Promote It! Within each section, visitors will have the opportunity to learn the nuts and bolts of working on webpage layout, reporting community data, and advertising. Its a fine site, and it also includes a number of fine examples of how different community groups have used these tools. [KMG]

Chronic Poverty Research Centre [pdf]

Established in 2000, with a series of innovative grants and funding schemes from the United Kingdoms Department for International Development, the Chronic Poverty Research Center (CPRC) is primarily concerned with researching chronic poverty around the globe and creating well thought out analyses that will be useful to different government agencies, non-governmental organizations, and other researchers. Specifically, their approach is designed to focus on three pillars, which include thematic research, policy analysis, and policy engagement. The site is divided into several primary sections, including Resources, Partners, and News and Events. The homepage isnt a bad way to delve into some of their materials, which as of late have included calls for papers and a presentation on a report on the state of the chronically poor in Bangladesh. [KMG]

To Recruit and Advance: Women Students and Faculty in Science and Engineering

In recent years, there has been some rather positive news about the absolute number of women who are choosing to go to college. In short, there are more of them then ever, and they are moving towards constituting a statistical majority of the college-age population. What many consider to be quite troubling is the fact that relatively few women are able to effectively pursue advanced careers in science and engineering. The National Academy of Sciences has commissioned this recent work, which examines a number of related questions, including how institutions might better recruit and retain female undergraduates and graduate students and also how said institutions might be able to increase the tenure rate for female faculty in these fields of academic endeavor. Published in 2006, the 131-page report is divided into seven chapters, an introduction, and a conclusion. Overall, the report will be most useful to those in higher education administration and outside parties who might be concerned about these trends. [KMG]

Ancient Greece [Macromedia Flash Player]

Presented with a physical relief map of Greece and its many islands, visitors to the homepage of this site will then be treated to a range of material objects, ranging from masks, urns, and stone tablets. All of these items are part of the British Museums vast holdings of materials from ancient Greece, and brought together, they constitute the online website titled Ancient Greece. Previous online collections have presented material from other civilizations, and this assemblage is divided into traditional sections that include geography, time, war, and Athens. While many of the sections follow traditional online collection conventions, there are a number of splendid Flash-enabled features that present a day in the life of the city of Athens, and of course, Platos immortal cave. [KMG]

Conversations on the Constitution [Macromedia Flash Player]

Perhaps the United States might be a better place if at the dinner table one interested party might ask the question, Hey Mom, can we talk about the establishment clause tonight? Until such topics spontaneously arrive in a pre-prandial setting like the one just mentioned, there will still be great interest in this lovely website created by the American Bar Association. As its mission statement declares, This project is designed to further dialogue in schools and in the workplace about American constitutional principles and values. Within the site, visitors can peruse a list of topics, such as war powers, the establishment of religion, and cruel and unusual punishment. Each area has a brief overview of each topic, and then three starter questions. These starter questions feature a list of specific queries, accompanied by brief illustrations (such as political cartoons and the like) that can be used at the dinner table, the boardroom table, or just about any table. Finally, interested parties can also take a few interactive tests on such areas as Supreme Court rulings and students rights in the classroom. [KMG]

Interactivate: Lessons

With the kind support of the National Science Foundation, the Shodor Education Foundation continues to provide a wide set of resources designed to assist educators with the formidable task of teaching young people about math and science. Since 1994, they have been responsible for the Interactivate website, which is designed to create, collect, and disseminate Java-based courseware for exploration in science and mathematics. On this part of the website, visitors can consider some of the 90 items they have created so far. The subjects covered include geometry, algebra, probability, and discrete functions. Within each activity, visitors can read more about the intended audience for each one, and also learn about the prerequisites and objectives for each lesson. [KMG]

Climate Change: The Environment Network [pdf]

Established as part of the United Nations Environment Network, this area of their site serves as a portal for resources that deal specifically with climate change. First-time visitors will want to cast a glance on the left-hand side of the homepage, as the whole topic of climate change and global warming can be a bit daunting, to say the least. Here they will find a Key Issues area which offers a set of resources that provide introductions to the topic, along with sections on the overall environmental, social, and economic implications of climate change. The Featured Resources area of the site will be of great interest to educators, as it includes a do-it-yourself climate model program that could be used in the classroom and a series of greenhouse gas emission graphs. [KMG]

General Interest

Frontline: Return of the Taliban [QuickTime, Windows Media Player]

Much like the janjaweed bands that have devastated parts of the Sudan since the early days of the Darfur crisis, the Taliban continues to dominate their own region, which happens to be around the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan. With noted Frontline correspondent and producer Martin Smith leading the way, visitors to this site can learn more about their role in the region, and what the future might bring. While visitors may eventually want to watch the complete program in its entirety (its available here as well), they may begin by reading the introduction to the program, and then proceed to taking a look at the Inside the Lawless Tribal Areas section. As it combines first-hand descriptions with video clips, this area is quite remarkable, and visitors will certainly want to look at Winston Churchills commentaries on this area from 1897, as some of his observations ring true today. The site is rounded out by a section of interviews with such personages as Richard Armitage and President Pervez Musharraf. This documentary and its website are both troubling and thoughtful, and one can think of a diverse set of classroom uses for such a program. [KMG]

Charles Sheeler: Across Media

With a body of work that combined the machine aesthetic of Marcel Duchamp and a subject matter that was of great concern to Americans of his generation, Charles Sheeler had a decades-long artistic career that is closely associated with the rise of American modernism. This online exhibition is designed to complement an in situ exhibit at the Art Institute of Chicago, and overall, it does a nice job of conveying a sense of Sheelers work and focus. Interested users may wish to begin by reading an overview of Sheelers life, and also taking a look at the brief, yet thoughtful, bibliography of related works that tell the story of his life and times. Of course, the real essence of the site is the Selected Works area. Here, Sheelers devotees (and new converts) can look over works such as Church Street El and Ballet Mechanique. [KMG]

National First Ladies Library

Certain major edifices dot many college campuses (and a few seemingly outlying locales) around the United States that generally dont seem to fit into the normal campus plans. No, they are not demonstration farm buildings, but rather those all-important presidential libraries. Of course, some have pondered two questions after seeing such buildings: What about the First Ladies? Where might people go to research and learn about these important and influential individuals? Such questions (and many others) may be answered at the National First Ladies Library (and its accompanying website), located in scenic Canton, Ohio. While the site does provide a great deal of information for researchers seeking to make a trip to Canton in person, the online Resources section may also sate the demands of the web-browsing public. Here, visitors may consider a timeline, an extended bibliography, and biographies of each of the First Ladies. [KMG]

Digital Freedom Network [pdf]

Under the banner of Advancing freedom worldwide through information and technology, the Digital Freedom Network is primarily concerned with providing the general public with information about current events around the world that may impinge on a variety of individual freedoms, particularly in the realm of journalism and related activities. One of the highlights of their site is the Literature of Freedom area, where visitors can learn about different works that have been banned in countries such as Cuba, South Africa, and Saudi Arabia. The Frontline is another moving section of the site, as it focuses on those individuals who have been placed in prison for expressing their thoughts and opinions freely. The site is rounded out by a very well-developed section of external links, organized into such areas as international organizations, publications, and educational tools. [KMG]

Reference Maps from the Wisconsin Historical Society [pdf]

Wisconsin is a state that certainly knows how to take care of its history, and the Wisconsin Historical Society has been doing an admirable job of presenting items from the Badger States history to the general public since 1846. Recently, they expanded their online efforts by creating a reference collection of thematic maps that offer spatial representations of different phenomena and occurrences throughout the states history. From the main page, visitors can explore the selections chronologically through such headings as Early Native Peoples, Wisconsin in the Civil War Era, and The Progressive Era. The maps have been culled from a variety of print publications and other sources, including the landmark multivolume work, The History of Wisconsin, which was published between 1973 and 1998. [KMG]

University of Illinois Extension: Horticulture [pdf]

Located at the crossroads of the United States, the University of Illinoiss well-regarded Extension division has provided outreach services to the states residents for over a century. For over a decade, they have also provided assistance to both residents of the state and a diverse set of interested parties from all over the world via their visually attractive website. One of their sites is dedicated to providing information about horticulture, with specific sections on plant propagation, urban agriculture, and composting. Colorful photographs on the horticulture homepage will deliver visitors to brief and well-written treatises on Selecting Trees for Your Home, Composting for the Homeowner, and Gardening with Perennials. Those persons interested in instructing fellow horticulturalists and neophyte gardeners in the fine art of vegetative propagation will want to click on over to the Houseplants area which addresses this topic in detail. [KMG]

Stray Dogs: Danijel Zezelj [Macromedia Flash Player]

This Web exhibition based upon Danijel Zezeljs graphic novel, Stray Dogs, is presented by the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. Created in 2004, while Zezelj was the 50th participant in the museum's artist-in-residence program, the exhibition is designed to allow users to either view the 68 original black & white ink drawings for the book, or page through the book itself. When viewing the drawings, the magnify feature will enlarge rectangular slices of each drawing. Similarly, when viewing the book, magnify will enlarge text that is enclosed in rectangular boxes. There are links to additional biographical information about Zezelj, and for any organization that wishes to book the show, the Exhibition details section provides all the necessary information, from costs to space requirements, and how to schedule an artist's talk or hire related performance pieces by Zezelj and his collaborator, Jessica Lurie to accompany the exhibition. [DS]

Library Support Staff Resource Center [pdf]

Librarian professionals and support staff are more important than ever, and there are a number of helpful websites that bring together web-based materials designed for just such persons. One such site is the online Library Support Staff Resource Center, created and maintained by the American Library Association. Organized as an extended set of links and in-house resources, visitors can scroll through the materials, which are divided into such topics that offer insights into the future of these professions and even more hands-on resources, such as a link to online journals designed specifically for library support staff members. Other pragmatic resources offered here include lists of key competencies and training techniques for those who might be leading professional development seminars or continuing education sessions in this field. [KMG]

Network Tools

Widget Manager 1.3.1

Widgets are fun and quite helpful, as they can be set up to periodically update users with everything from stock quotes to the score of the proverbial Big Game. Of course, some users may also wish to find a way to wrangle those widgets in an organized fashion. Enter Widget Manager 1.3.1 which allows users to find out the version number of each widget, along with its exact location. This version is compatible with all computers running Max OS X 10.4. [KMG]

OpenTalk 3.10

Talking to various friends and associates on the internet just got a bit easier with the addition of OpenTalk 3.10. With this application, visitors can effectively chat via a text box, voice, or video. For some of these options, visitors will need to have a headset microphone or a webcam, but with these additions, all of these modes of communications become readily available. This version is compatible with computers running Windows 98 and newer. [KMG]

In The News

While alluring to many, some diamonds continue to pose a serious ethical dilemma

Ivorian diamonds still on sale

U.S. Watchdog Urges Tighter Rein on Conflict Gems

Kimberly Process [Macromedia Flash Player]

Making It Work: Why The Kimberly Process Must Do More to Stop Conflict Diamonds [pdf]

History of Diamonds [QuickTime, Windows Media Player]

Crater of Diamonds State Park, Arkansas

Decades before the DeBeers company created the A diamond is forever marketing slogan, diamonds had become the premier precious stone of choice for many engagement rings. In the past few years, diamonds mined in a variety of countries in West Africa have acquired a rather dramatic sobriquet: conflict diamonds. The word conflict is specifically meant to refer those diamonds that have been smuggled and sold on the international market in order to fund various wars in countries including Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Angola. This week a number of news organizations reported that diamonds from the Ivory Coast are still being sold on the international market, which is an explicit breach of an international ban that went into effect a year ago. On a broader scale, the country is also subject to the innovative requirements of the Kimberly Process, which was started in 2002, and which was also meant to prevent the sale of such conflict diamonds. Members of the United Nations Security Council remain optimistic about monitoring the situation, but oversight in this area of international trade remains difficult. [KMG]

The first link will take users to a news article from this Tuesdays BBC News Online that reports on the revelation that Ivorian diamonds are still available on the international market. Moving along, the second link leads to a news article by Emad Mekay that reports on a recent paper from the U.S. Government Accountability Office that suggests that the United States should adopt stronger oversight measures in order to determine the origins of various diamonds. The third link will lead users to the site that provides detailed information about the Kimberly Process. The fourth link leads to a fascinating 51-page report from the Global Witness organization that provides information about the current shortcomings of the Kimberly Process, and how its scope of operations might be improved over the short and long term. The fifth link will take users away to a very engrossing video introduction to the history of diamonds, proffered by the Natural History Museums Andy Fleet. During this presentation, visitors will learn about the aesthetic and utility value placed on these gems. Interested diamond prospectors and rock-hounds will be delighted to learn about the final site, which is the virtual home of the Crater of Diamonds State Park in Arkansas. For those not in the know already, this park is the only site in the world where any one can just come, search, and keep any diamonds they might uncover. [KMG]

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