The Scout Report -- Volume 14, Number 41

October 26, 2007

A Publication of Internet Scout
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

Migrant Integration Policy Index [Macromedia Flash Player]

The European Union has long been concerned with looking at how migrants are integrated into various member states (and several non-EU countries), and this visually delightful and well-thought out site is a great resource for researchers and policy analysts. Drawing on a wide range of data sources, the Migrant Integration Policy Index (MIPEX) covers policy areas like long-term residence, access to nationality, and political participation. After looking over the "About" section, visitors should be comfortable enough to dive right in. Visitors may wish to start by using the interactive mapping and charting function to look at how various countries are performing in terms of integration, and then move on to the "Key Findings" section which offers some summary statistics on the six policy areas covered here. Additionally, visitors can sign up to receive email updates and information via an RSS feed. [KMG]

The New York Botanical Garden: International Plant Science Center Field Research [pdf]

From Dr. Douglas C. Daly's work on the frankincense family to Tatyana A. Lobova's work on bat-plant interactions, the New York Botanical Garden's International Plant Science Center sponsors a multitude of engaging field research projects. Since 1891, the Garden scientists have conducted almost 2000 expeditions and visitors to this site can learn about some of the more recent expeditions here. On the right side of the homepage, visitors can scroll through a list of researchers, or they may browse through the list by plant type or geographic location. Further down the page, there is a "Research Web Sites" list. The list includes over a dozen sites, including "Brazil Nut-Past, Present, and Future" and "Fungal and Plant Diversity of Central French Guiana". Visitors should not miss the excellent field primers "An Introduction to Ferns" and "An Introduction to Lichens", which can be perused here or printed out for handy reference. [KMG]

Math Center: Valencia Community College [pdf]

Helping students learn about basic and advanced math skills can be a challenging task, so it is nice to learn that a number of community colleges have created online resources for educators. This site was created by the Valencia Community College's Math Center, and it features a number of educational toolkits designed to help both educators and students. Visitors can start by looking through the "Material List", which includes a review of intermediate algebra and a fine selection of additional external websites. Educators may wish to look at the general knowledge math test here created especially for them. An offering of practice tests and even more external links of note round out the site. [KMG]

Saban Center for Middle East Policy [pdf]

Launched in May 2002, the Saban Center for Middle East Policy performs original research surveys and studies in order "to promote a better understanding of the policy choices facing American decisionmakers in the Middle East." Visitors to the site will note that the homepage contains four primary sections, including "Research & Commentary", "Events", and "Experts". "Research & Commentary" includes dozens of topical reports and policy briefs organized into thematic categories such as "Middle East Democracy and Development" and "Terrorism". The "Events" area includes information both about upcoming talks and symposia sponsored by the Center and brief synopses of those events that have already occurred. Finally, the "Experts" section provides information on various scholars and fellows who are affiliated with the Center. [KMG]

Open Semiotics Resource Center

The field of semiotics is a complex one, and it is generally understood to include the study of sign systems and evolution, texts, information, meaning, and related matters. This particular site, dedicated to the field of semiotics, was founded by Paul Bouissac, and it serves as a dynamic and interactive place where scholars and interested parties can peruse their online semiotics encyclopedia, take a look at virtual symposia, and look through the "Semioticon Commons". Visitors will definitely want to click their way to the "Public Journal of Semiotics" section and also look at their global information bulletin, titled "Semiotix". The site is rounded out by the Semiotic Review of Books and "The Pulse", which serves as a gateway to other semiotic-themed sites. [KMG]

Carnegie Mellon Libraries: Digital Library Colloquium [Real Player]

Carnegie Mellon University is well-known for their excellent School of Information Sciences and since 2001 they have sponsored the Digital Library Colloquium lecture series. This site allows users to view the various lectures in their entirety and learn more about the participants through short biographical sketches. The subjects covered run the gamut from digital library initiatives to the intriguing subject of creative commons and machine-readable law. Visitors can browse through the lectures by year, and they will most likely find something that piques their own interest in the field of information science. It's an ambitious effort, and one that will be enjoyed by persons in the field and those who might be thinking about joining the field in the future. [KMG]

Teaching Math: A Video Library

Would Lewis Carroll have approved of using "Alice in Wonderland" to teach algebra? We may never know, but that exact possibility turns up in episode two of the valuable "Teaching Math" series created by staffers at WGBH Boston. This series shows teachers demonstrating "the fine art of guiding students through reasoning and problem solving." Along the way, students chime in with comments about their experiences, and the overall learning milieu is improved as a result. All told, the series contains twenty episodes which cover patterns, congruence, exponential functions, and the very act of communicating about mathematical ideas. The series is one that will be most intriguing to mathematics educators, and they will want to tell like-minded instructors to take a look at the site and watch a few episodes online. [KMG]

Wake Forest University Physics Demonstration Videos [Real Player]

Physics is plenty exciting on its own, but this clutch of physics demonstration videos offered up by Wake Forest University's Physics departments will probably have students running out to learn more about string theory and cosmology. Teachers will definitely appreciate this resource, as they can use these videos in the classroom or just recommend to their students. Visitors can view the videos in their entirety by subject headings, which include "Motion", "Heat", "Optics", and not surprisingly, "Newton". All told there are dozens of videos, including "Bed of Nails", "Cartesian Diver", and the surreal yet appropriately titled "Marshmallow Man". Overall, this resource is a delightful find.

General Interest

The Chairman Smiles

Thinking of Joseph Stalin smiling is perhaps an odd thought to many, but that facial expression did in fact occur from time to time on his stormy visage. It's something the folks at the International Institute of Social History probably thought about as they created this remarkably interesting online collection of 145 political posters drawn from their holdings. The collection includes works from the Soviet Union, China, and Cuba, and they depict everything from idyllic agricultural communes to Mao, Stalin, and Castro smiling. Visitors can look at 79 posters from China, 33 from the Soviet Union, and 33 from Cuba. Additionally, users can learn about the poster's designers, the conservation of the posters, and where to purchase postcard reproductions of these works. [KMG]

The American Presidency Project [pdf]

While many of former United States presidents have their own libraries, The American Presidency Project attempts to bring together documents from all of the presidents. Started in 1999 as a collaborative project between Gerhard Peters, John T. Woolley, and the University of California, Santa Barbara, the Project's site contains over 75,000 documents related to the study of the presidency. First-time visitors can start at the "Documents" area which contains sections such as "Public Papers of the Presidents", "Saturday Radio Addresses", and "Fireside Chats". Moving on, the "Elections" area contains presidential election data from 1828 to the present day. The "Media" area is a real treat as it contains speeches and video clips from Herbert Hoover to George W. Bush. The site concludes with three very useful search options that will assist users looking for specific material from this archive. [KMG]

Legal Writing Institute [pdf]

For those not familiar with its nuances and requirements, legal writing can be a taxing affair at first. Fortunately, the Legal Writing Institute's homepage is a good place to start learning more about the basics of legal writing. First-time visitors can begin by looking over the "About" section, which offers up a host of materials about the Institute, including a most useful FAQ guide and information about their listservs. After that, visitors will want to move to the "Resources" section. Here they will find a collection of syllabi, resources on plagiarism, and an "Idea Bank" which will be quite a boon to legal writing instructors. The site is rounded out by an "Employment Listings" area and information about the Institute's conferences. [KMG]

American Architectural Foundation [pdf]

Those who have scoured the web for architecture sites may have come across the homepage of the American Architectural Foundation (AAF), but those who haven't will find this site to be quite a find. Founded in 1943, the AAF "seeks to educate individuals and community leaders about the power of architecture to improve lives and transform the places where we live, learn, work, and play." Visitors to the site can take advantage of a number of online resources, including their online publications. These publications include findings from their design study charrettes and their investigations into creating effective learning spaces for students in the 21st century. Within the "Videos" section of the site, visitors can look at short films made to complement some of their publications. The site is rounded out by the "News & Events" area where visitors can learn about their well-regarded conferences, which include the National Summit on School Design. [KMG]

Reflecting Antiquity: Modern Glass Inspired By Ancient Rome [Macromedia Flash Player]

The art of the Romans has served as fertile ground for many generations of artisans. Exploring their forms and subjects has been a worthy endeavor, and many careers have been made of interpreting their work, much as the Romans drew on the work of Grecian artisans for centuries. This fascinating online exhibit from the J. Paul Getty Museum looks at the ways in which Roman glass was used as inspiration for glassmakers across Europe in the late 1700s and early 1800s. Created to complement an ongoing exhibit at the Getty Villa, this exhibit allows visitors the opportunity to learn about mosaic glass making techniques, cameo glass, and the glorious world of iridescence. Each section of the exhibit includes a brief narrative paragraph, along with high-quality examples of each glass-making technique. Additional features include videos of the various glass objects as they are being created and a place where visitors can post their own comments. [KMG]

Today in History

Son: "What happened today back in 1980 Dad?" Dad: "I don't know son, why don't you look online at the "Today in History" site?" That conversation is perhaps not so far-fetched when readers learn about this very fine and edifying website. Developed as part of The Library of Congress's American Memory project, the site contains informative information about what happened on, say, October 21. Visitors who visit the site on any given date will find archival documents and brief commentaries on the Kennedy-Nixon Debates (one of which took place on October 21), the premiere of "Hello, Dolly!" (January 16), as well as the 363 other days of the year. The site is quite a treat, and each "Today" contains links to various archival documents that have been offered up online as part of the American Memory project and other Library of Congress digitization initiatives. [KMG]

Australian Army War Diaries [pdf]

The Australian War Memorial site has worked diligently over the past several years to add to their rather nice online collections, and this particular addition is quite a find. It consists of excerpts from diaries from those who served Australia during the First and Second World Wars, the Korean War, and in the South East Asian conflicts. The homepage for these diaries includes a brief introduction to the collection and a description of the general contents of these different digitized documents. Visitors can browse through selections from the diaries at their leisure and they can also print them out for detailed consideration. Finally, the site also provides a link to the Memorial's Research Centre in case visitors would like to send along questions or comments. [KMG]

Listening To Our Ancestors: The Art of Native Life Along the North Pacific Coast [Macromedia Flash Player]

Presented by the National Museum of the American Indian, this Web exhibit focuses on ceremonial and everyday objects created and used by 11 Native communities that have lived in the Pacific Northwest: Coast Salish, Gitxsan, Haida, Heiltsuk, Kwakwaka'wakw, Makah, Nisga'a, Nuu-chah-nulth, Nuxalk, Tlingit, and Tsimshian. The Credits section of the site provides complete information about how information and materials were gathered from each community. For each community, visitors to the site can read commentary by community curators and view objects that were used for a variety of purposes. The theme of the Coast Salish gallery is "Everything is connected", and curator Marilyn G. Jones notes, "The items weren't made for art, they were made for use." Examples include baskets and mats, canoes, and weaving items such as whorls (parts of a spindle, used for spinning fiber into thread by hand), which, despite Jones' disclaimer, are exquisitely decorated. On the other hand, the Tlingit gallery starts with the statement "These are our treasures" and includes art - sculptures of a Raven and a pipe in the shape of an eagle; body ornaments - for hair, bracelets and earrings; and a treasure chest. [DS]

Network Tools

Mindjet MindManager Pro 7

The road to a successful project starts with a single click, and this application is a good way to get started on just about any type of project. This version of MindManager Pro helps users play their strategy through the use of a graphical interface where they can arrange topics as they see fit. The application comes with a few basic templates to get users started as well. This trial version lasts for twenty-one days and it is compatible with computers running Windows XP, 2003, and Vista. [KMG]

Opera 9.24

Sometimes it would be nice to have a speed dial on a web browser, particularly when one wants to breeze on through different sites quickly. Just such a feature is available on Opera 9.24, along with embedded fraud protection and dozens of fun and helpful widgets. This latest version is compatible with computers running Mac OS X 10.3. [KMG]

In The News

Through online videos and a dedicated following of practitioners, interest in parkour grows in the United States

Parkour practitioners run up walls, leap over rails, jump steps-just for fun

The Art of Parkour: Capturing Extreme Jump Shots

The Sporting Scene: No Obstacles

American Parkour

Howstuffworks: "How Parkour Works"

UCLA Ergonomics: Exercises

Imagine a physical activity (not a sport, per se) that encompasses jumping delicately off a parking ramp onto the side of another building, twisting and turning along the way, and probably ending up careening along a nearby mud embankment to wind up completely intact and hopefully, unhurt. To some, this may smack of mere folly. Others prefer to call it "parkour". The parkour movement has been gaining steam in recent years, fueled by video-sharing websites, a growing network of parkour specialists, and those types of individuals who are generally looking for new and intriguing challenges. The word parkour comes from the French "parcours", which means "route". Through various body motions and maneuvers, the practice of parkour allows practitioners to find their way across all types of obstacles, both physical and mental. The founder of the parkour movement is one David Belle, who spent his early life living in a suburb of Paris. Belle has served as the inspiration for a newer generation of persons interested in this activity. For his own part, he remains introspective about parkour, and in a recent interview he remarked "What I'm interested in for parkour is the utilitarian thing of getting to the other end, whether as a task or a challenge, but in film they like a little entertainment, so I do that, too, but it's not what I'm interested in." [KMG]

The first link will take visitors to an article by the Toledo Blade's Ryan E. Smith about those dedicated to the art of parkour in and around the greater Toledo region. The second link will whisk users away to a feature from Wired magazine that features a new impressionistic film of various traceurs (the word used for male parkour practitioners) in action. Moving on, the third link will take visitors to an excellent piece on parkour by Alec Wilkinson for The New Yorker. For those who are feeling inspired, the fourth link may lead them to try a bit of parkour in the future. The site happens to be American Parkour, and it contains photo galleries, videos, and of course, an answer to the question "How Do I Get Started?" The fifth link will teach users how parkour works, courtesy of Cameron Lawrence and the folks at Howstuffworks. The last site could be the most useful of all, as it contains some great stretching and flexibility exercises offered up by the Ergonomics Division of UCLA's Office of Environment, Health and Safety. Whether you've just come off a long day of parkour or just a long day in a poorly adjusted chair, there's something for everyone here. [KMG]

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