The Scout Report -- Volume 14, Number 5

February 8, 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

The Belgian-American Collection

While Wisconsin is well-known for its German-American community, some may be surprised to learn that a significant number of Belgians made their way to the Badger State in the 1850s. Most Belgians who came to Wisconsin made their way to the northeastern section of the state and their descendants continue to celebrate the harvest festival known as Kermis as well as a number of other cultural practices. This particular online collection from the University of Wisconsin's Digital Collection provides a host of materials related to this ethnic community. Visitors will note that the materials are divided into six sections, including "Immigration Histories", "Oral History Recordings", and "Belgian Survey Maps". The maps are well worth a look, as they include detailed renderings of nine different Belgian-American farms. Visitors should also not overlook the oral history excerpts and the substantial immigration histories. [KMG]

Bryophytes [pdf]

Bryophytes include mosses, liverworts and hornworts, and they can be found in many parts of the world, including peat bogs and the deserts of Australia. This lovely resource deals with bryophytes and was created by Dr. Raymond E. Stotler and Dr. Barbara J. Crandall-Stotler of Southern Illinois University, Carbondale. New visitors to the site (and the world of bryophytes) may wish to start by visiting the "What are Bryophytes" area, which features a fine narrative essay about these nonvascular land plants. Moving on, visitors can look at images of bryophytes, learn more about current research, and their classification. The site also contains a number of academic treatises, along with a nice piece from the magazine "Outdoor Illinois" titled "The Green Beneath Our Feet". [KMG]

Virtual Yeast Cell [Macromedia Flash Player]

Learning about the various parts of a cell can be tricky business, but this virtual yeast cell offered by The University of Nottingham will come in handy for biology students and science instructors. This learning resource was created to help students in the brewing science program learn about yeast cytology, though just about anyone with an interest in cells will learn something from visiting the site. After entering the interactive cell, visitors can click on different parts of the cell (such as the cytoplasm or the nucleus) in order to learn more about the importance of each one. Visitors should remember that they can also download the virtual yeast cell and use it in the classroom or just with a group of friends. [KMG]

Backgrounder: Council on Foreign Relations

The Council on Foreign Relations provides a number of services for the general public, and in the past they have offered up public discussions, forums, and other outreach activities. In addition, they offer the "Backgrounders" series, which offer succinct explanations of current political and economic issues. First-time users can visit the "Most Recent" area to peruse the latest piece, or they can click on the "Daily Analysis" or "Daily Brief" sections. The profiles cover everything from the role of delegates in the U.S. presidential nominating process to understanding Kenya's politics. Also, visitors can click on complementary materials, such as podcasts, interactive features, and online debates. Finally, visitors can also search for specific materials via the search engine offered here. [KMG]

University of Wollongong: Statistical Literacy

Statistics surround us in the form of polling reports, census data, and the other seemingly mundane details of life. This site created by the University of Wollongong offers up a series of modules designed to help users learn about the world of statistics. As their site suggests, the modules will help users become more knowledgeable about surveys and scientific experiments. Users will want to look at the short explanations concerning the purpose of these modules and statistics in general before getting started. Currently, the site offers two modules: "Producing Data" and "Describing, Clarifying and Presenting Data". In each module, visitors will be presented with detailed explanations of these different aspects of statistics in a language that is quite accessible. [KMG]

African American History Month

February is African American History Month, and, as the Library of Congress site notes, it's an area of history that should be incorporated into all discussions about American history. The Library of Congress listened to its own advice and created this most useful site to help students, teachers, and others to do just that. First-time visitors may wish to click on the "African American Voices" to hear audio clips from the Queen of Buganda, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's appearance at the Library's Book Fest, and many others. Moving down the homepage, visitors can read about a number of notable African Americans, including historian Carter G. Woodson and Congressman Major Owens. By clicking on the "Collections" area visitors can look through some of the digital collections related to various aspects of African American history. Additionally, the site also has other sections that provide primary materials on African Americans in the performing arts as well as oral histories from the Veterans History Project. [KMG]

Gathering The Jewels: The Website for Welsh Cultural History [QuickTime, Real Player, Windows Media Player]

The rich cultural history of Wales is the focus of this rather fine website created by a consortium of institutions that included the National Library of Wales, the Federation of Welsh Museums, and the Welsh County Archivists Group. The website was launched in 2003 and currently contains over 20,000 images of objects, books, letters, aerial photographs, and other documents culled from Welsh institutions. From the homepage, visitors can click on one of many topical areas. These areas include "The Domestic Sphere", "This and That", "Protest and Politics", and "Transport". The geographically-minded can elect to use the interactive map of Wales to look for materials of interest, or they can type in the name of a town or village. Visitors should definitely not miss the "Film" area of the site, as they can view close to thirty short films, such as "Turn Out of the Cardiff Fire Brigade" from 1924 and the moving portrait of Bardsey Island (or Ynys Enlli) from 1953 titled "The Island in the Current". It's worth noting that many of the materials here are also made available in Welsh. [KMG]

UMass Boston OpenCourseWare [pdf]

Like many other institutions, the University of Massachusetts, Boston has decided to make a foray into the world of OpenCourseWare. While the courses offered online here will not lead towards a formal degree (or confer course credit), they represent some of the best that the school has to offer. Visitors can click on the "Courses" tab to learn more about the current offerings, which include course materials on political science, biology, history, along with nursing and health sciences. Moving on, visitors can also take a look at their FAQ area and send in feedback on the site and its contents. Additionally, visitors can sign up for RSS feeds and they will be notified when new material is added to the site. [KMG]

General Interest

World War One Color Photos    

While color photography was around by the start of World War I, it was not in widespread use. Interestingly enough, the French Army happened to take many photographs in color during the last two years of World War I. This site presents several hundred of these photographs, and visitors can browse through them at their leisure. Visitors can search the entire archive, or they may also wish to look through several of the galleries. While complete bibliographic information is not available for the photos, each photo does have a brief caption which describes the basic context and setting for each image. The site is rounded out by a selection of relevant links, including several online WWI forums and sites that compile military quotations. [KMG]

Images of the Antislavery Movement in Massachusetts

The state of Massachusetts played a major role in the American antislavery movement, and for a number of decades, the epicenter of this movement was in Boston. The Massachusetts Historical Society created this website in order to highlight some of the visual materials from their collection that deal with this facet of American history. Visitors to the site can look over digital images of 840 items, which include paintings, sculptures, banners, and broadsides. Items featured within this archive include formal portraits of noted lawyer Wendell Phillips, abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison, and Senator Charles Sumner. Additionally, visitors can also view a ticket to the 1857 Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society speech and a diagram of a plan for resisting the fugitive slave law. [KMG]

EUROPA: Key facts and figures about Europe and the Europeans

Which countries are in the European Union? What goods do countries in the European Union produce? Is Andorra a member of the European Union? These questions (and many more) are all answered in this interactive and lively site created by the European Union (EU). The site is set up to provide access to key facts and figures about Europe and Europeans in general, and visitors can click on one of nine playful graphic icons to learn about topics like quality of life, transport, and economic activity and trade. After looking through some of these fact-filled areas, visitors can also browse around in the "What's New?" area. Here they can read newly added reports and fact sheets that address food safety, biofuels standards, and the EU's efforts to combat gender stereotypes. [KMG]

Statistics: Cast Your Vote!

Before entering the main portion of this interactive introduction to statistics, visitors will have to answer a few quick questions on polls. It's actually a bit fun, and it serves as a nice introduction to the site. Once visitors are in the main site, they will get the opportunity to learn about statistics through the lens of a mock election. The site contains areas such as "How Random is Random?", "Being Confident", and "What Can Go Wrong". Along with concise explanations of each element of statistics, visitors can also take part in an interactive quiz and some additional polling activities. The site also includes a number of external links for visitors who wish to explore additional topics within the field of statistics. [KMG]

e-Agriculture [pdf]

Established by the United Nations, the e-Agriculture initiative is primarily concerned with the "conceptualization, design, development, evaluation and application of innovative ways to use information and communication technologies (ICT) in the rural domain, with a primary focus on agriculture." This website is an integral part of the initiative, as it is set up to help interested parties exchange experiences and best practices related to this emerging field. Persons unfamiliar with the field should start their journey through the site by clicking on the "Global Examples" area. Here they will find items such as Digital Green, which is an agricultural training and advising system that seeks to benefit rural farmers by disseminating targeted information through digital videos. After that, visitors should make their way to the "Resources" section. As might be expected, this section contains learning tools and activities, along with a glossary of e-agriculture terms. Finally, visitors can also login to take an active part in their forums and create their own customized list of resources. [KMG]

After Columbus: Four-Hundred Years of Native American Portraiture

The New York Public Library's early efforts to collect Native American portraiture were greatly aided by gifts and purchases made by Dr. Wilberforce Eames and J.P. Morgan. Morgan was a sponsor of Edward S. Curtis's massive survey of North American Native Americans and Eames was the Library's bibliographer. This particular digital collection from the Library brings together some of these early acquisitions, including George Caitlin's "North American Indian Portfolio" from 1845 and Frederic Allen Williams' "Photographs of American Indians". In total, this digital collection includes 369 prints and drawings. Visitors can browse through each portfolio at their leisure, or they can also elect to search through the entire collection by title or keyword. [KMG]

Using Field Lab Write-ups to Develop Observational and Critical Thinking Skills

Doing field labs in geology can be quite a rewarding experience, and this helpful educational resource is something that can be used by a wide range of science educators. Created by Professor Kim Hannula of Fort Lewis College, this resource is designed to help teachers incorporate writing into the description and interpretation sections of a geologic report. Visitors to the site can find a set of instructor's notes, a thorough description of the assignment, and several examples of lab handouts. Additionally, the site features information on the goals of the assignment and a description of what students will be doing at each step of the assignment. [KMG]

SPARROW - Sound & Picture ARchives for Research On Women [Adobe Reader, Windows Media Player]

SPARROW is a growing online archive, documenting the work of female political activists and artists in India. Currently the archive contains graphics, photos, and moving images - such as an interview with Homai Vyarawalla, born in 1913, one of the first women photojournalists in India. There are also ample links to published materials along with perhaps the most interesting feature at SPARROW - their ongoing documentation agenda. Additional projects include actively collecting digital video and oral history, and a media watch that examines images of women in advertising and documentaries. [DS]

Network Tools

eMailaya 3.0.5

For those looking for a lightweight email client, eMailaya 3.0.5 just might fit the bill. Users will find that eMailaya can accommodate multiple accounts, manage RSS feeds effectively, and also backup important files. This version is compatible with computers running Windows NT, 2000, XP, and Vista. [KMG]

Google SketchUp 6.4.120

Perhaps you fancy yourself the next Frank Lloyd Wright or Frank Gehry? You can try out your sketches and other designs with this new version of Google SketchUp. The application allows users to create, view, and modify various 3D forms quickly. Users can render edges of any given model in 3D space, and the application will automatically determine the nature of the lines and fill shapes to complete the process. This version is compatible with computers running Mac OS X 10.3.9 and newer. [KMG]

In The News

As the FBI prepares to expand biometric database, civil liberty groups express concern

FBI wants palm prints, eye scans, tattoo mapping

FBI preps award for biometric database

Center for Identification Technology Research [pdf]

CBC Archives: The Long Lens of the Law [pdf]

Latent Print Examination

Law enforcement officials have drawn on a number of techniques to track and locate criminals, and interest in new surveillance techniques has grown exponentially in recent years. While fingerprints remain a popular way of keeping tabs on criminals and others, emerging identification techniques include eye scans, palm prints, and other pieces of biometric information. In the United States, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has expressed interested in creating a massive computer database by cataloging people's physical characteristics. The project, which was announced this week, is designed to better identify criminals and terrorists, but it has also drawn criticism from the American Civil Liberties Union and other civil liberties organizations. The FBI already has 55 million sets of fingerprints on file, and it hopes to combine these prints with various pieces of biometric information in order to positively identify potential suspects. Some people are already concerned about the erosion of individual privacy, including Barry Steinhardt, director of the American Civil Liberties Union's Technology and Liberty Project. Responding to this recent initiative, he commented, "This had started out to being a program to track or identify criminals. Now we're talking about large swaths of the populationworkers, volunteers in youth programs. Eventually, it's going to be everybody." [KMG]

The first link will take users to a recent story from CNN that discusses this new database. The second link leads to a news story from The State (Columbia, SC) which talks about the companies vying for the contracts that will be awarded as part of work on this database. Moving on, the third link leads to the homepage of the Center for Identification Technology Research at West Virginia University. The fourth link will take users to a fascinating series of short films from the CBC Archives site that probe the use of closed-circuit television (CCTV) in various surveillance settings. The fifth link leads to, which is the central online clearinghouse for information on the biometrics-related activities of the United States government. The last link will take users to the Latent Print Examination site, which is a terrific way to learn about the latest news from the world of fingerprints and fingerprint-related technologies. Additionally, the site also contains information on palm prints and footprints in a host of languages. [KMG]

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