The Scout Report -- Volume 14, Number 8

February 29, 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

American Geographical Society Digital Photo Archive

The University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee has rolled out a number of fine digital collections over the past few years that have covered everything from Golda Meir to the Milwaukee Repertory Theater. This latest addition provides access to over 2000 photographs from the American Geographical Society Library (AGSL). The current collection is primarily focused on countries in Asia and the Middle East, and they hope to expand their collection in the near future to include additional regions of the world. Visitors to the site can search the collection by country, city, or search term of their choice. Highlights of the archive include some remarkable photographs of the waterfront in Alexandria, the markets of Bangkok, and photographs of the city of Kathmandu. [KMG]

Evolution of Normal Fault Systems During Progressive Deformation [Quick Time]

The geology teaching resources offered by the professional development initiative at Carleton College are uniformly quite strong, and this particular pedagogical resource is no different. Created by Professor Robert Burger at Smith College, this activity "is based on Quick Time movies and color digital photographs derived from sandbox experiments that produce normal faults in a variety of boundary conditions." At the beginning of the activity, students view movies in order to gain awareness of the evolution of normal fault systems. Visitors to this site will find the movies available for their use, along with detailed information on how to incorporate this activity into the classroom. Finally, visitors can also read the activity description and assignment in its entirety. [KMG]

Critical Thinking Web

Teaching critical thinking can be difficult, and it is nice to know that Professors Joe Lau and Jonathan Chan at the University of Hong Kong have created this site to help both teachers and students in this endeavor. Working with a grant from the government of Hong Kong's University Grants Committee, the two have created this website to provide access to over 100 free online tutorials on critical thinking, logic, scientific reasoning, and creativity. The homepage includes a brief introduction to critical thinking and access to the main modules, which are divided into thematic areas such as values and morality, strategic thinking, and basic logic. Visitors can also view the Chinese version of this site, download class exercises, and even take on "the hardest logic puzzle in the world." [KMG]

Electoral Geography 2.0

Alexander Kireev and Alexey Sidorenko have been interested in electoral geography for years, and they recently combined forces to create this very interesting and informative website dedicated to just that subject. On the homepage, visitors can take a look at the latest electoral maps added to the site. It's quite a diverse group of maps, as they have included a map showing the results of the Cyprus presidential election, a legislative election in Taiwan, and a firearms referendum electoral map from Brazil. Visitors can also take a look at the "Random Map" selection culled from their archives and also sign up to receive the RSS feed from the site. Additionally, the "Articles" section of the site contains scholarly works such as an article on Italian electoral politics since 1992 and the political geography of Russia's presidential election in 2004. Overall, it's quite a find, and the site certainly merits more than a few return visits. [KMG]

Suharto: A Declassified Documentary Obit [pdf]

Long-time Indonesian leader Suharto passed away in January 2008, and experts and others continue to debate his legacy. Recently, The National Security Archive at George Washington University published this electronic briefing book which includes a number of declassified U.S. documents which detail various aspects of his time in office. Visitors who look through the briefing book will find transcripts of meetings with Presidents Richard M. Nixon, Gerald Ford, and Ronald Reagan, along with Vice President Walter Mondale and others. Other documents in the book include works which detail U.S. perceptions of Suharto during his early years, along with coverage of the 1975 invasion of East Timor and the so-called "Mysterious Killings" of 1983-1984. Created by the Archive's Brad Simpson, this is an informative (and troubling) look into one of Southeast Asia's most prominent leaders of the last century. [KMG]

Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs [pdf]

The Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs is designed to be "the world's central address for ethical decision in international affairs." It's a tall order for any one organization, and it's a mission that is in part fulfilled by this very well-designed and informative website. On their homepage, visitors can learn about upcoming events sponsored by the Council, take in some of their latest update reports, and also learn more about how to support their mission. First-time visitors will want to click on the "Themes" area to learn about the Council's primary interests, which include religion in politics, global social justice, along with ethics, war, and peace. Visitors can review resources such as podcasts, reports, interview transcripts, and audio conversations related to each theme. Additionally, the "Programs" area of their site contains information about workshops, the Morgenthau Memorial Lecture Series and their online magazine, "Policy Innovations". [KMG]

The 2008 Statistical Abstract [pdf]

There aren't too many documents that combine annual statistics on arts organizations with crop acreage, but the Annual Statistical Abstract from the U.S. Census Bureau manages to do both with great aplomb. The Abstract has been published since 1878 and it serves as the "authoritative and comprehensive summary of statistics on the social, political, and economic organization of the United States." Drawing on data sources that include the Census Bureau and the Bureau of Economic Analysis, the Abstract provides detailed tables, charts, and data sets on income, the labor force, education, energy use, foreign commerce, and hundreds of other topical areas. First-time visitors can take a look at the "Top 5 Data Links" and then move on to the "Summary Statistics" area. Of course, many visitors will want to browse through some of the topical sections offered on the left-hand side of the homepage. For those who want the entire Abstract, there's also a link to a complete version of this document for their sustained consideration. [KMG]

The Virtual Body [Macromedia Flash Player]

Unless one is a medical resident, it can be quite difficult to get a close-up look at a skeleton, a brain, or even the inner workings of the digestive tract. Students of the medical sciences and others need worry no more, as this very fine interactive exhibit offers up dynamic images and cross-sections of these parts of the anatomy and many more to boot. The site contains four sections, including "Brain", "Skeleton", "Heart", and "Digestive Tract". In the "Heart" area, visitors can learn about the individual parts of the heart, view an animated heart, and also take a narrated tour of the heart that will "keep your heart beating." Moving on, the "Skeleton" section features the "Bones Narrated" tour, which will take visitors on a guided tour of the skeleton and its functions. For those who like to keep things interactive, there is also the "Build a Skeleton" feature that will test their knowledge of the human skeleton. Additionally, the "Digestive Tract" area includes a test of organ organization and a trip through the duodenum and other parts of the digestive system. It's worth noting that the entire site is also available in Spanish. [KMG]

General Interest

Muse India

Started and run by a group of writers, Muse India is an online bimonthly journal which seeks to showcase Indian writings in both English and in English translation. Begun in early 2005, the journal has produced a number of thematic issues over the past several years, including those that have focused on Punjabi literature, modern Tamil poetry, and Indian aesthetics. Each issue contains a blend of literary commentaries, fiction pieces, book reviews, and poems. Visitors can read these pieces, and also search through the archive via a search engine. For those that are so inspired, they can also contact the editor about the possibility of having their own work included in a forthcoming issue of Muse India. [KMG]

Le Plan de Rome [pdf]

During his life, Paul Bigot was a professor at the famed Ecole Nationale Suprieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris and he was also the winner of the Grand Prize of Rome. Among his many achievements was the construction of large plaster model of Rome during the rule of the emperor Constantine. Over the past several years, an interdisciplinary team of scholars has worked to create a virtual reconstruction of the model for this website. On the site, visitors can learn about the work that they have done so far, and they can also learn about how to visit the actual model which resides at the Universite de Caen. Of course, for those who can make it to Caen, there's the "Tour" section on this site. Here visitors can take a virtual tour of Bigot's scale model of the city as it appeared in the 4th century. [KMG]

The Future is Digital [Windows Media Player]

Carnegie-Mellon University has a number of exciting digital projects available online for the general public's consideration, and they also keep interested parties abreast of other developments via "The Future is Digital" archive available online. Visitors will definitely want to start by looking through the video series titled "Authors' Rights and Wrongs". Here they will find a number of excellent lectures that address everything from open access policies to the future of intellectual copyright laws. Moving on, visitors can browse past presentations all the way back to 2001. Some of the other highlights offered here include a report on the digitization of rare books from Qatar and full-text documents that look into the progress of other digitization projects. [KMG]

Patriotic Melodies

Many people may be familiar with patriotic ditties like "America the Beautiful", "Of Thee I Sing", and "Over There", but how many of them know the stories behind each of these works? For those who don't (and for those who do), this site will be quite a treat. Created by the Library of Congress, the site tells the stories of these songs through sheet music, historic images, and other pieces of visual and audio ephemera. For example, the story of "Of Thee I Sing" is told both through a descriptive essay, a photograph of legendary tunesmith George Gershwin, and a print of Ira Gershwin from the very able hand of Al Hirschfeld. All told, visitors can learn about the history of over two dozen songs on the site. [KMG]

UN Action To Counter Terrorism [pdf]

The United Nations has been concerned about the growing threat of terrorism for decades, and in 2006, their member states adopted a comprehensive global strategy to counter terrorism. Visitors with an interest in their strategy will want to visit the site to read about the strategy and to also learn about some of their related activities. After reading a brief introduction about the overall strategy, visitors can read the complete United Nations Counter-Terrorism Handbook and also view the latest news updates related to their efforts to combat terrorism around the globe. Along the left-hand side of the homepage, visitors can also look over sections that include "Strategic Framework", "International Instruments", and "Human Rights". Visitors should also be aware that these materials are also available in Arabic, French, Russian, Spanish, and Chinese. [KMG]

American Public Transportation Association

Founded in 1882, the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) works to "serve the public interest by providing safe, efficient and economical transit services." Their members include public bus, rapid transit, and commuter rail systems, along with various private organizations that provide support services for these systems. First-time visitors to the site may wish to look over some of their news headlines to get a sense of the APTA's basic activities. While some of the materials on the site are only available to members, there are a number of general access sections. For example, the "Industry Information" area contains links to helpful online documents and surveys, along with a list of transportation definitions and statistics. The online documents area includes titles like "Critical Relief for Traffic Congestion" and "Expanding the Transportation Options in an Aging Society". Additionally, the site contains a search engine and a listing of upcoming conferences and related events. [KMG]

Textile Exchange

From crochet machines to the uses of acrylic yarn, the Textile Exchange website has rather fine comprehensive coverage across the nooks and crannies of the textile industry. Visitors to the homepage will find a search engine and a very thorough products directory which includes topical headings like "Textile Products", "Fibers, Yarns & Threads", and "Textile Chemicals". After looking over a few of these areas, visitors will definitely want to peruse the "Knowledge Center". Here they can learn more about fiber and textile history, and the types of weaves. One section that should not be missed is the "Textile Personalities" area. For those individuals who've been pining to learn about giants of the textile industry such as John Mercer, John Kay (who patented the flying shuttle), and Richard Roberts, this area will be quite the eye-opener. [KMG]

Network Tools

Opera 9.26

The Opera browser has been around for sometime, but this latest version contains a few new features that are worth a look. Visitors will note that they can now use the "Speed Dial" feature for improved navigation to frequently-used sites and that there is also an embedded fraud protection feature as well. This version is compatible with computers running Windows 95 and newer. [KMG]

Acoo Browser 1.80

Based on Internet Explorer, this latest iteration of Acoo Browser offers tabbed document windows, customizable toolbars, and dockable panel groups. As with many other browsers, Acoo also offers an online bookmark manager that is quite handy, and a built-in webpage analyzer. This version is compatible with computers running Windows 98 and newer. [KMG]

In The News

Concerned about the education of young people, the Common Core organization releases the results of a recent survey

Teens losing touch with historical references

History Surveys Stumps U.S. Teens [Free registration may be required]

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy

Bill Moyers Journal: Interview with Susan Jacoby

Digital History

19th Century Textbooks

Debates over what young people should be taught in schools have raged on since the time of ancient Greece. From the rise of compulsory elementary education to the creation of the elective system at Harvard in the 19th century, some critics have maintained that such changes have had a rather deleterious effect on young minds. A recently released survey from the Common Core organization adds fire to the already raging conflagration surrounding such matters. The survey asked 1,200 17-year olds to answer 33 multiple-choice questions about history and literature. The results were not terribly promising, as about a quarter of the teenagers surveyed could not correctly identify Adolf Hitler as Germany's chancellor during World War II. Other findings noted that one-quarter of the respondents thought that Christopher Columbus sailed to the New World sometime after 1750. Leaders of the Common Core group also argue that the No Child Left Behind law has effectively created a desolate landscape throughout America's public school curriculum, and they suggest that young people would benefit from a more comprehensive liberal arts and science education. In the introduction to their final report on the survey, the authors noted, "The nation's education system has become obsessed with testing and basic skills because of the requirements of federal law, and that is not healthy." [KMG]

The first link will lead users to a piece by Greg Toppo of USA Today that offers a bit of background on this thorny issue, complete with an interesting quiz and a section for comments. The second link will take readers to a news article from this Tuesday's New York Times which discusses the findings of this survey conducted by the Common Core organization. Moving on, the third link leads to the online version of The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy which includes 6,900 entries. As the site notes, this work "forms the touchstone of what it means to be not only just a literate American but an active citizen in our multicultural democracy." The fourth link will whisk users away to an interesting interview with Susan Jacoby, who has recently written a book that examines the current "overarching crisis of memory and knowledge." The fifth link leads to the very fine Digital History site, which contains hundreds of resources for history teachers and students that are both well developed and engaging. Those persons looking for a bit of the "old-time" education will appreciate the sixth and final site. Here, visitors can look over 140 19th century schoolbooks digitized by the staff at the University of Pittsburgh's Digital Research Library. [KMG]

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