The Scout Report -- Volume 14, Number 2

January 18, 2008

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

Science, Evolution, and Creationism

The National Academies Press published this 88 page volume in order to help answer the question "How did live evolve on Earth?" Drawing on a group of experts from a range of scientific fields, this work looks at the evidence for biological evolution, the nature of science, and creationist perspectives on evolution. Along the way, the book also offers examples of how the science of evolution can be used to prevent and treat human disease and also foster industrial innovation. The book has broad appeal, and it will be of great use to teachers, legislators, policy makers, and community leaders. Additionally, visitors can also listen to a podcast about the work and learn more about the persons responsible for the book. [KMG]

Global Corruption Barometer 2007 [pdf]

Transparency International publishes a myriad of reports related to governmental corruption and operations. The Global Corruption Barometer report for 2007 was released in December 2007 and it contains a wealth of important, albeit troubling, findings. The Barometer surveyed almost 64,000 respondents in 60 countries, and in doing so, created a profile of where citizens see the greatest degree of corruption and how they see the future development of corruption in their respective countries. Not surprisingly, their research found that it is the poor who are most often confronted with requests for bribes and that this functions as a regressive tax. Huguette Labelle, the chair of Transparency International noted, " Governments are not alone in their responsibility. We need to see concerted action from civil society and the private sector too." [KMG]

National Council of Teachers of Mathematics

New and experienced math teachers can benefit from this helpful site created by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. In the "Tips for Teachers" section, visitors can take in tips for starting the year off right, testing, grading, homework, and even communicating with parents. The site also includes tips for math tutors and several short, yet effective, tips on utilizing technology in the classroom. One area that should not be overlooked is the "Common Questions and Their Answers". Here visitors can learn about demystifying the distributive property and other timely principles. Finally, visitors are also welcome to leave feedback on each section via a webform. [KMG]

Biology Browser: Teaching Resources

Thomson Scientific has created this fine site in order to provide science educators with a wide array of activities that can be used in the classroom. Currently, the site features over 190 resources related to various areas of biology. Visitors can search through the resources by subject, geography, or organism. These resources include a primer on the antlion (also known as a doodlebug) and "Bugnet" which is an online forest entomology class. Visitors can also glance over a glossary of zoology terms and look over news from the world of taxonomy. [KMG]

Connecting to Collections: A Call to Action [pdf]

In a recent report on the state of America's collections, The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) noted that over 190 million objects need conservation treatment and 65 percent of collecting institutions have damaged collections due to improper storage. In order to raise public awareness and inspire action, the IMLS has created the "Connection to Collections" website. On the site, visitors can read the original report that inspired this initiative and also download and review their 44-page booklet that details texts that are essential for the care of collections. The site also contains a very nice "Guide to Online Resources" section that includes six sections of online resources that address how to manage and care for various collections. Finally, visitors can also look into recent conservation projects created and maintained by IMLS partners and grant recipients. [KMG]

Life in the Palaeozoic [pdf]

The Open University in Britain is well-known for its efforts to bring higher education to persons across the world. As of late, they have also been expanding their online offerings for the general public by making course materials available on their "OpenLearn" site. This particular course will take interested parties into the world of the Palaeozoic era. Through six different topical sections, visitors will learn about the Cambrian explosion, the origins of vertebrates, and life in the Silurian sea. Along the way, visitors will be presented with questions that will test their knowledge of the material. Visitors may also wish to post comments to the online forum and offer their own reviews of the material and course offerings. [KMG]

Africa Governance and Advocacy Project [pdf]

Established in 2004, the Africa Governance and Advocacy Project (AfriMAP) is a project of the Open Society Institute. The Institute's overarching mission is "to promote democratic governance, human rights, and economics, legal, and social reform." As such, AfriMAP works with national civil society organizations in order to evaluate and audit areas that include the justice sector, the delivery of public services, and political participation. Their homepage offers up some of their recent findings through reports like "South Africa: Effective Delivery of Public Services" and "Ghana: Justice Sector and the Rule of Law". Users can also perform a complete search of their online materials by selecting a country and then picking a topic. Those who are interested in their methodology should read their detailed questionnaires, which are available in both French and English. Also, visitors can sign up to receive an electronic newsletter and read their latest call for research papers. [KMG]

Stanford Humanities Lab [Macromedia Flash Player, Quick Time]

Started in 2000, the Stanford Humanities Lab (SHL) discovers "fascinating futures to be explored in ignoring and crossing disciplinary borders." The Lab engages in a number of research projects that are collaborative, co-creative, and team-based. These projects have resulted in new media projects, interactive archives, predictive models of social changes, and exhibitions. First-time visitors can get a good sense of their work by looking through the "Projects" section of the site. Here they will find projects that detail the Irish-American west, the importance of the crowd in the modern experience, and the perception of artworks. For each completed project, the researchers have created a separate site that provides access to their work, along with a brief explanation of its applications and uses. Also, visitors should take a look at their weblog and their latest news postings. [KMG]

General Interest

The Council of Independent Colleges: Historic Campus Architecture Project

Most college campuses have an "Old Main" type building, along perhaps a central quadrangle and other features that seem to be indicative of a traditional collegiate setting. In recent years, studying campuses through their architectural development has become quite popular, and this online project from the Council of Independent Colleges is a great way to learn about this field. Working with a grant from the Getty Foundation, the Historic Campus Architecture Project (HCAP) site documents over 2000 places of historical significance on private college and university campuses. Visitors can browse the database by institution, designer, building style or time period. For each building profiled, visitors can learn about its history and current use, and also view a selection of photos, drawings, or other pieces of documentation. Additionally, visitors should take a look at the glossary provided here to brush up on terms like "American Colonial" and "Gothic Revival". [KMG]

Jazz Old Time Online [Real Player]

For fans of jazz, the Jazz Old Time site will be a fun way to listen to few well-known chestnuts from the early days of this musical idiom. Of course, those who don't know much about jazz will appreciate listening to a few new artists as well. The site features over 18,000 songs in the public domain, and visitors can browse through the selections by artists or take a look at a few sample playlists. As one might suspect, artists like King Oliver, Meade Lux Lewis, and Louis Armstrong are featured prominently, though early recordings from later artists, such as Stan Getz, are also available. The site might also be recommended to students in a music appreciation course. [KMG]

Exploring 20th Century London

From the expansion of the Underground to the waves of new arrivals from the British colonies, London was greatly transformed through the 20th century. Recently, several London institutions, including the Museum of London, combed through their respective resources to create this interactive exhibit and archive that would tell visitors a bit about the city's evolution during those 100 years. The materials can be viewed through three sections: "Timeline", "Themes", and "Places". In the "Timeline" section, visitors can browse through featured objects and also learn about major events during the period. Moving on, the "Themes" area organizes the city's recent past into topical areas that focus on art and design, the built environment, ethnic communities, and leisure activities. The "Places" section features a clickable map of London's boroughs which reveals artifacts from each of these respective areas. [KMG]

Jane Jacobs and the Future of New York [iTunes, pdf]

When discussing the fate of cities in the 20th century, few voices loom larger than those of noted urbanist and social commentator Jane Jacobs. The Municipal Art Society of New York recently paid tribute to Jacobs' legacy and work in an exhibit at their galleries on Madison Avenue, and they also saw fit to create this accompanying website. The site contains multimedia discussions on urbanism sponsored by the Society, along with an exhibition overview. The homepage also invites visitors to respond to questions such as "What makes a good neighborhood?" and "Can one person change the city?" The "Multimedia" section of the site includes interactive maps of New York, along with all of the video clips and podcasts related to this exhibit and its discussions of the future of New York. [KMG]

International Council of Societies of Industrial Design [pdf]

The design of many common (and some uncommon) objects is something that most people don't think about on a regular basis. Even very successful designs can go unnoticed, and only a few industrial designs have been elevated to iconic status. Creating better design is the focus of the International Council of Societies of Industrial Design (Icsid), and their work takes place in over 50 countries and they present close to 150,000 designers. First-time visitors to the site may wish to look over their "Galleria" area. Here they can view innovative designs for desktop computers, vacuum cleaners, and ceiling fans. Moving on, the "Education" area features articles on design and design education, along with information on upcoming student design competitions. The site is rounded out by a selection of design case studies and documents which highlight issues such as copyright control. [KMG]

Frontline: On Our Watch [pdf]

As the situation in Darfur continues to unfold, a number of media outlets have continued to investigate the United Nations involvement in the region. The journalists and researchers at the PBS program Frontline embarked on their own investigation into the subject. Along the way, they explored China's economic interests in the region, the actions of the Security Council, and those of various UN member nations. Visitors to this site can watch the documentary program in its entirety, and they can also read essays on various aspects of Darfur written by activists, historians, and policy experts. Other features on the site include a map of the region, a list of suggested readings and links, and journal entries from the show's producer, Neil Doherty. [KMG]


The applications of geographic information systems (GIS) grow with each passing day, and more people are interested in careers in this field. The SpatialNews site is a good way for students and professionals in the GIS field to stay on top of new developments via their feature articles, RSS feeds, and discussion boards. There is a great deal of information on the homepage, and first-time visitors should start by looking over the sections on "GIS Education", "Features", and "Business Bit & Bytes". Some of the more notable feature articles profile the history of GIS, the use of GIS in the military, and the use of GIS during hurricane evacuations. The site is rounded out by a listing of job opportunities and selected comments from the discussion boards. [KMG]

Let Your Motto Be Resistance: African American Portraits [Macromedia Flash Player]

The exhibition "Let Your Motto Be Resistance" consists of 100 photographic portraits of prominent African Americans. The portraits were selected from the collections of the National Portrait Gallery as part of the inaugural exhibition of the new National Museum of African American History and Culture. The show will begin a national tour in October 2008. The web site is designed for browsing in chronological order, beginning with Frederick Douglass and ending with Wynton Marsalis. Short biographies, caption information, and larger views are available with each picture. The portraits include an airborne Judith Jameson, 1976, performing in Cry; a smiling Billie Holiday photographed in 1926; and Gordon Parks in 1945 with camera and light meter in hand. There are two portraits of Martin Luther King; he is shown with his wife and daughter in 1956, and in 1968, as three of his four children file past his coffin. [DS]

Network Tools

ChatStat 3.1.6

If you have a website, there may have been times where you would have liked to talk with visitors who have browsed on in to say hello. ChatStat 3.16 offers users the ability to conduct live chat sessions with website visitors, along with free dynamic web analytic software. Visitors can also chat with other operators via instant message and even let visitors request a "call back". This application is compatible with computers running Windows NT and newer. [KMG]

Paint.NET 3.2

If you have left over holiday photos that need editing and a bit of retouching, you may want to consider looking over the latest version of Paint.NET. This open source photo editing program comes with support for layers, special effects and essential tools that include a cropping feature and a resizing option. This version is compatible with computers running Windows XP and newer. [KMG]

In The News

True identity of Mona Lisa (re)affirmed

Da Vinci's Lisa revealed

Mona Lisa descendant just grins and bears it

A closer look at the Mona Lisa [Macromedia Flash Player]

Mona: Exploratorium Exhibit [Quick Time]

Leonardo da Vinci: Master Draftsman [Real Player]

Theft of Mona Lisa

At the center of what is arguably the world's most famous painting is a woman who has been the source of much controversy over the past five hundred years. The identity of Mona Lisa has been the source of some consternation, as generations of scholars have searched for incontrovertible proof of her identity. Recently, a researcher at the University of Heidelberg found the necessary evidence in the margins of a book written by a friend of Leonard da Vinci. The painting is called La Gioconda in Italian, which led early observers to comment that it was most likely a portrait of Lisa del Giocondo, wife of Florentine businessman Francesco del Giocondo. This most recent discovery effectively ended all potential doubts about the identification, as the researcher in Germany found notes from da Vinci's friend that noted the artist was working on her portrait. [KMG]

The first link will take users to an article from this Wednesday's Boston Globe about this recent discovery. The second link will whisk users away to a piece in the Toronto Star about some of Mona Lisa's distant relatives. Moving on, the third link leads to a fascinating online exploration into the painting offered up by the Louvre Museum. The fourth link leads to a presentation of "alternate" versions of the Mona Lisa from the Exploratorium in San Francisco. The genius of da Vinci's drafting abilities is the subject of the fifth link, which allows visitors to look at some of his work from the Metropolitan Museum of Art and listen to audio commentaries by scholars and curators. The final link leads to a site from PBS that explores the theft of the Mona Lisa on August 21st, 1911. [KMG]

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