The Scout Report -- Volume 14, Number 3

January 25, 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

In the Name of Entrepreneurship? The Logic and Effects of Special Regulatory Treatment for Small Business [pdf]

Released in December 2007, this 368-page report from the RAND Corporation looks at the ways that regulation and the legal system can discourage or encourage the entrepreneurial spirit. Susan Gates, director of the Kauffman-RAND Institute for Entrepreneurship Public Policy remarked, "Unfortunately, some regulations place a disproportionate burden on small businesses. At the same time, exemptions and other special regulatory treatment for small businesses to ease this burden don't always work." The report contains a number of interesting findings, including an observation that there is no evidence that state health-insurance mandates designed to expand access to health insurance for small businesses have actually increased their ability to offer benefits or reduced their insurance premiums. Overall, it's a work that will be of great interest to policy makers, economists, and others who might be concerned with the future economic prospects of small businesses. [KMG]

Student Voices [pdf]

Started in 1999 by the Annenberg Public Policy Center (APPC) of the University of Pennsylvania, Student Voices is designed "to improve the dialogue of democracy among our nation's young people and encourage their civic engagement." Through this website, educators and young people can take advantage of resources designed especially for both groups. In the "Teachers Resources" area, visitors can download curriculum and lesson plans, learn about group project ideas, and take a look at videos produced by students across the United States. The "Student Resources" area contains links to high-quality sites that provide a basic overview of the federal government, state government, senators, and the president. Everyone who visits the site should chime in with a response to the "Speak Out" area, which asks visitors to comment on important questions of the day. Finally, visitors can also find out who their local and federal officials are as well as peruse the glossary, which covers everything from accountability to zoning. [KMG]

Interactives: 3D Shapes [Macromedia Flash Player]

How much liquid can that glass hold? What are the dimensions of that package that's heading off to a friend overseas? Answers to both of those questions (and many more) can be found in this lovely interactive feature on 3D shapes created by experts at the Annenberg Media group. Visitors to this site will learn about three-dimensional geometric shapes by examining a number of objects through a number of interactive exercises and games. The materials are divided into four sections, which include "3D Shapes", "Surface Area & Volume", and "Platonic Solids". The "Platonic Solids" area is quite a bit of fun, as visitors will get the opportunity to print out foldable shapes such as a tetrahedron. A short fifteen question quiz that tests the materials covered by these various activities rounds out the site. [KMG]

Chemistry PowerPoint Lessons and Instructional Materials [pdf, ppt]

Before becoming an author, Jeremy Schneider was a chemistry teacher. Over the past several years he has placed a number of helpful instructional resources here on his site. These particular resources cover atomic structure, quantum mechanics, atomic size, bonding, and several dozen additional topics. Visitors can browse through these resources at their leisure and each topic area includes a brief description of what is covered in each set of materials. Specifically, the resources include labs, assignments, worksheets, and handouts. Many of the resources draw on examples from the "Fundamentals of Chemistry" textbook, but the site suggests that page references from other textbooks can be substituted. [KMG]

The Center for Agroecology & Sustainable Food Systems [pdf]

The mission of the Center for Agroecology & Sustainable Food Systems at the University of California, Santa Cruz is "to research, develop and advance sustainable food and agricultural systems that are environmentally sound, economically viable, socially responsible, nonexploitative, and that serve as a foundation for future generations." First-time visitors to the site may wish to start by reading through their newsletter, "The Cultivar", and then proceeding to their "Research" area where they can learn more about their ongoing investigations into the sociology of sustainable food systems and the agroecology of farm landscapes. Most visitors will want to look at the "Publications" area as well. Here they can learn more about organic gardening through primers that cover garlic, apple trees, peas, and more. Additionally, this section of the site also has factsheets on building fertile soil, making compost, and non-chemical snail and slug control. [KMG]

3D Organic Chemistry Animations

Students who hope to go to medical school or to continue their studies in the sciences will definitely encounter organic chemistry, and this set of animations will help them in their studies. Created by Nick Greeves and Alex Lawrenson of the University of Liverpool, these animations cover cycloadditions, conjugate addition, and twelve other areas of organic chemistry. Visitors can scroll through the list of animations on the left-hand side of the homepage, or they can use the embedded search engine. A set of controls allows users the ability to manipulate the animations for a better view and they can also remove and show various hydrogen atoms. [KMG]

Statistical Understanding Made Simple [Macromedia Flash Player]

Teaching statistics can be tough for even experienced instructors, so it is nice to learn about the Statistical Understanding Made Simple (SUMS) website. Created by researchers at the University of Glasgow, the site helps users build "interactive, fun and highly effective tutorials designed to help students understand basic statistics." Visitors who wish to have the resource generator create tutorials will need to register on the site and provide a small data set. Of course, visitors can also check out the "Ready Made Tutorials" area, where they will discover projects that examine the relationship between height and weight and the effect of cognitive behavioral therapy on depression. Additionally, the site also contains several games which students can use to explore the effects of standard deviation and histograms. [KMG]

Internet for Geographers

There is plenty of information about geography online, but separating the wheat from the chaff can be time-consuming and difficult. This helpful online tutorial written by librarians John Blunden-Ellis and Pete Maggs leads users through this process, and along the way users will also learn about evaluating the contents of sites. The entire tutorial should take users about an hour to complete and they can start with the "Tour" section. Here they will take a guided tour through geography sites that feature maps, bibliographic databases of note, and learning and teaching resources. Moving on, the "Discover" section lets users learn about different Internet search tools and offers a set of helpful tips on search strategies. Finally, the site also includes a glossary of terms and a place where users can offer feedback on the tutorial. [KMG]

General Interest

LaFayette: Citizen of Two Worlds [pdf]

In 1824, General Marie Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier, marquis de LaFayette, made his return to the United States. He had given much to the United States during the Revolutionary War, serving as a general and a diplomat. Cornell University recently decided to celebrate the 250th anniversary of his birth by creating an exhibition drawn from its extensive Lafayette collection. Offered in both French and English, this complementary online exhibit offers up primary documents that address Lafayette's contributions to both the United States and France during periods of significant cultural and political transformation. The exhibit contains nine sections that offer digitized copies of his military plans, depictions in the popular press, and a copy of his remarks from when he visited the tomb of George Washington at Mt. Vernon. It's quite an inspired site, and one that persons with an interest in American history and international relations will want to recommend to friends and others. [KMG]

Pamphlet and Textual Ephemera Collection

The worlds of theater, tourism, and urban development all come together in this delightful and intriguing digital collection. Created by staff members at the University of Washington Libraries Digital Collection group, the collection includes pamphlets, books, and theater programs that cover tourism in Washington State, urban development in Seattle, the world of theatrical amusements in the area, and the Alaska Yukon Pacific Exposition of 1909. The Seattle architecture offerings are quite useful, and they include promotional brochures for new buildings and a pamphlet that explores the later development of the land which contained the first home of the University of Washington. The theater programs collection contains original programs from a diverse range of production from the early days of Seattle Theater, including productions of "Just Out of College" and "The Pirates of Penzance". All told, the entire collection contains 115 items and it's well worth a look. [KMG]

Parliament and the British Slave Trade, 1600-1807 [Macromedia Flash Player]

On March 25, 1807, Britain's Parliament passed an act which abolished the British slave trade. There was a great deal of public discussion and debate about the act, and this very nice online exhibit from the Parliamentary Archives explores some of the issues through primary documents and other records. The site is divided into six sections, which include "History", "Your Voice", "Explore", "Timeline", "Learning", and "Glossary". The "History" section is a great place to start, as it provides background on Britain's slave trade, the wider world of the international slave trade, and the economics behind slavery. Visitors must make a stop at the "Explore" area, where they will find poems by enslaved Africans and abolition supporters, along with various dramatizations of the slavery debate, and interactive explorations of objects related to the slave trade. Additionally, the "Learning" section contains an interactive studio for teachers who wish to create their own educational resources and a number of lesson plans and activities. [KMG]


Billed as "All Tech, All the Time", the TechNewsWorld is a good way to stay on top of the latest developments in the worlds of technology, computing, information technology management, and other related areas. On the homepage, visitors can take a look at some of their top stories and then move on over to the "Shortcuts" area. Here they will find a selection of podcasts, webcasts, and even a helpful WiFi hotspot locator. The podcasts include "Weekly Roundups", which offer a digest of the week's news and the latest activities from various major technology companies. Visitors who wish to keep tabs on the site may wish to sign up for RSS feeds, email news updates, and their discussion boards via the "Reader Services" tab. [KMG]

Ragtime [Real Player]

Ragtime is a uniquely American musical idiom and it is generally distinguished by its three or four contrasting sections or strains, each one being 16 or 32 measures in length. Played by itinerant pianists who made their way across the South and Midwest, the music first began to be formally published in the mid-1890s, and it soon made its way to Europe and other parts of the world. The Library of Congress recently created this fun and interesting site which pays homage to this art form through essays, musical selections, and digitized sheet music. Visitors can browse through the offerings at their leisure, though they may wish to start their journey by reading one of the four explanatory essays which cover topics such as "The History of Ragtime" and "The 'Classic' Rag". Moving on, visitors can also read biographies of artists like Scott Joplin and Joseph Lamb and also listen to noted ragtime performer Bob Milne. [KMG]

Los Angeles County Museum of Art: Videos and Podcasts [QuickTime, iTunes]

Art lovers who can't make it down to 5905 Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles will enjoy mulling over some of the videos and podcasts presented on this site. Currently, the site has over fifty different programs, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art will continue to add new programs over the coming months. In the "Current Features" area, visitors can take a walk through the new museum campus and also learn a bit about an exhibition that highlights the work of Salvador Dali. Other visitors may be more interested in the "Public Programs" area. Here they can listen to conversations and dialogues with the likes of Anthony Hernandez, Ken Gonzales-Day, Jeff Koons, and John Baldessari. Finally, the "Documentaries" area offers up profiles of Jacob Lawrence, a group of contemporary potters, and noted fluorescent light artist Dan Flavin. [KMG]

Jamestown, Quebec, Santa Fe: Three North American Beginnings

The North American settlements at Jamestown, Quebec, and Santa Fe were all founded within a three-year time period, and this online exhibition from the National Museum of American History takes a closer look at some of the Native and European artifacts that have survived from that compelling moment in history. The exhibition was created through a partnership that involved the Virginia Historical Society, the Canadian Museum of Civilization, and a number of other institutions. The materials are gathered into nine separate sections which cover labor systems, spiritual life, trade, and the expansion of these fledgling colonies. Visitors can start by reading short introductions about each colony and then delve into other areas which include digitized images of everything from early farm implements to treaties. [KMG]

Mapping Pittsburgh: Art, Space & Alternative Culture

Created by staff of the education department at the Andy Warhol Museum and other community partners, including artists, writers, curators, and activists (particularly bicycling), Mapping Pittsburgh attempts to "show the hidden side of Pittsburgh." As a hilly city with distinct, possibly isolated, neighborhoods, Pittsburgh does not have one clearly defined arts district. Mapping Pittsburgh tries to connect the cultural production happening all over Pittsburgh in one spot in cyberspace. Definitely a work in progress, probably the most frustrating aspect of the site is that many photographs do not enlarge. On the plus side, the links section provides information about all kinds of community organizations in Pittsburgh, from art galleries to bicyclists' coalitions to media. And, to see more pictures, the compendium of Pittsburgh Bloggers includes dozens of photography blogs. [DS]

Network Tools

Avast Home Edition 4.7.1098.80107

Avast has been around for some time now, but the uninitiated will definitely want to take a look at this rather easy to use antivirus application. Users can select which places they want scanned using a skinnable simple interface, and the program will start when the "Play" button is pressed. The application can also check different email client and instant messaging programs for viruses. This version is compatible with computers running Windows 95 and newer. [KMG]

RiverGate RSS Reader 1.8

Staying on top of one's favorite weblogs and RSS feeds can be a time-consuming affair, but the process can be made a bit easier with the use of RiverGate RSS Reader 1.8. This application can retrieve content that includes weblogs and podcasts. Visitors can also use the program to create their own customized searches. This version is compatible with computers running Windows 98, Me, 2000, XP, and Vista. [KMG]

In The News

The Dutch adopt a seemingly contrarian strategy for dealing with rising sea levels

NPR: In a Strategic Reversal, Dutch Embrace Floods [Real Player]

We'd like 250,000 of these, please,,2244258,00.html


Historic maps of the Netherlands

American Experience: Hoover Dam

China Three Gorges Project

Catastrophes often have a way of mobilizing groups of people into action. Many cities have rebuilt after major fires, including London and Chicago, but certain natural disasters are harder to recover from. Rising sea levels across the world have forced many nations to rethink their strategies for holding back waters which could potentially inundate them over the coming decades. Perhaps no country in Europe knows more about this dilemma than the Netherlands. For the past one thousand years, the Dutch have created an intricate system of canals, ditches, dams, and floodgates in order to keep the high waters away, and in doing so, they have also reclaimed thousands of acres of land for other uses. Recently, the Dutch government has decided that instead of keeping all of the water back, they will now let some of it in. This particular scheme is know as the "Room for the River" project, and it will allow the water to go where it will by lowering the dikes. Dutch writer Geert Mak commented that while the Dutch are used to taming nature, they might have to "give part of the country back to the water." [KMG]

The first link will take users to a piece from National Public Radio's Joe Palca, who reports on this revised strategy for dealing with the rising sea levels around Holland. The second link leads to a piece from the Guardian which looks at novel approaches to incorporating new structures in and around water from a number of Dutch architects and designers. Moving on, the third link leads to a delightful site which provides a host of images and information about the various engineering works that keep the Netherlands above water. The fourth link leads to a fun and pleasant site where visitors can look at 16th and 17th century maps of Maastricht, Leiden, and many other Dutch cities. The fifth link provides access to the American Experience site on Hoover Dam. Here visitors can read about the dam's construction and its place in engineering history. Finally, the last link leads to a site that provides ample material on the Three Gorges Dam in China, which will become the largest hydroelectric power station in the world by capacity when it is fully operational in 2011. [KMG]

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