The Scout Report -- Volume 14, Number 22

June 6, 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

Darwin Initiative [pdf]

As a part of Britain's Department for Environment and Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), the Darwin Initiative is designed to help countries that are "rich in biodiversity but poor in financial resources." Visitors to this site can learn more about projects funded under the auspices of this laudable venture, learn about their success stories, and also find out more about their partner institutions and organizations. So far, the Darwin Initiative has funded well over 600 projects in various host countries, and visitors to the homepage should make their way to the "Latest News" area to get a sense of their work and current projects. On the left-hand side of the homepage, visitors can also take in the "Darwin News" updates, information about their workshop proceedings, and thematic reviews, briefing notes, and reports. The site is rounded out by the "Project Focus" feature, which takes a close look into projects that include efforts to protect Indonesian songbirds and their quest to protect the largest wetlands in the world, which happen to be in Tomsk Province, Siberia. [KMG]


H-Albion is a part of the H-Net consortium and is hosted by Michigan State University. Its primary purpose is "to enable historians and those interested in academic British studies more easily to discuss research interests, teaching methods and the state of historigraphical and academic debate about the British Isles and the British Empire." In order to accomplish this lofty goal, H-Albion provides a number of valuable resources on their site. Visitors are invited to subscribe to the discussion board to keep up on current events, pose questions to the community, or even put their two cents in on academic debates. In addition to the discussion board, H-Albion provides reviews of recent work covering British Studies. Particularly helpful to instructors of the subject are the course syllabi provided and for students the bibliographies that are also provided can be an invaluable tool. For anyone interested in the history of the British Isles, H-Albion will be a welcome and most useful find. [CMH]

Knight Digital Media Center [pdf]

Funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and created and maintained through a partnership between the University of Southern California's Annenberg School for Communication and the University of California - Berkeley's Graduate School of Journalism, the Knight Digital Media Center is a very nice resource for just about any type of working journalist. Visitors to the site will find tutorials on being a better online journalist and newsroom leader and incorporating new and innovative weblogs into their work. Visitors can also learn about their seminar series and get the latest updates from the multitude of weblogs they sponsor. Additionally, visitors can click on through to some of their partner organizations, including J-Lab: The Institute for Interactive Journalism and the Knight Citizen News Network. [KMG]

Ancient Mesopotamia: This History, Our History [Shockwave, Macromedia Flash Player, Quick Time]

The Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago houses a world-renowned collection of artifacts from ancient Syria, Israel, Persia, Anatolia, Egypt, Nubia, and Mesopotamia. On this website, visitors can explore some of these artifacts up close while also learning more about the history of this important region. Visitors should first visit "Life in Mesopotamia" to learn more about the cultural importance of the area. Then, they can click on the "Learning Collection", here, visitors can zoom-in on artifacts selected by teachers in order to learn what these artifacts can tell us about ancient Mesopotamia. After browsing the learning collection, visitors should not miss the "Interactives." Here they can view additional artifacts as well as view video clips on various topics including a virtual archaeological dig and how these ancient artifacts are cared for and preserved. In addition, teaching materials are also provided and K-12 teachers can earn graduate credit from an online course also offered here. [CMH]

United States National Seismic Hazard Maps

Many persons are interested in seismic hazard maps, including geologists, everyday citizens, and persons working in the insurance and actuarial fields. This site will be of great interest to all of those persons, as it contains the national seismic hazard maps created by the United States Geological Survey. User can view the latest series of maps via their homepage, and then proceed to look over their on-line web tools that will allow individuals to assess which sources might pose the greatest hazard in a given region of the country. Along the left-hand side of the homepage, visitors will find handy resources that include "Earthquake Hazards 101" and detailed hazard maps of urban areas. Additionally, the site also includes maps which predict the median level of ground shaking from a particular scenario event and a series of maps which forecast the likelihood of an earthquake rupture occurring during an interval of time in the future. [KMG]

Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine [pdf]

If you've ever had a yen to learn more about the traditional knowledge of wild edible plants used in Palestine or the medicinal plants of southeastern Ethiopia, then the Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine is for you. The Journal an open access, peer-reviewed journal published by BioMed Central, and visitors can browse through all the issues here and also take a gander at the top ten most accessed articles. Visitors can also sign up to receive the journal's RSS feed and email articles directly to friends and associates. The site also contains information on how to submit manuscripts for consideration and details on the editorial board and the editor-in-chief. Given the increased profile and interest as of late in these two intriguing fields, this is certainly a journal worth a look. [KMG]

International Research Network in European Political Communications [pdf]

EurPolCom was initially established in 2000, by Professor Paul Statham, and located at the University of Leeds. In 2007, it was re-launched as a 'network' which advances research in the fields of political communications, the public sphere and social movements and is now located at the University of Bristol. On their website visitors can learn more about this organization and their various research projects. In addition, there are a number of working papers available to the public including "Constitutionalism of the European Public Sphere" and "The Politics of Immigration and Asylum Policy in Western Europe" to name only a few. After getting acquainted, visitors may want to learn more about their grants and awards available as well as upcoming events. Lastly, a set of related links is provided for those interested in a specific aspect of the site. [CMH]

Facing Controversy: Struggling with Capital Punishment in North Carolina

Drawn from the collections in Wilson Library at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, this website presents a "digital exhibit of a selection of primary source materials that document many of the controversies surrounding the death penalty in North Carolina." The goal of the collection is to present materials that will enable students, teachers, researchers, and the public to view primary sources that will help them explore the history of the death penalty in North Carolina. In addition to the primary sources provided here, the site also provides accompanying texts, timelines, biographies, and a research guide for those who wish to continue to pursue this controversial and important topic. [CMH]

General Interest

The Labrador Inuit Through Moravian Eyes [Macromedia Flash Player]

Started by Jan Hus in the late fourteenth century, the Moravian Church was one of the earliest Protestant movements to rebel against the Roman Catholic Church. Over the course of the seventeenth century, the Moravian Church was suppressed and they were forced to operate in secret. In the early eighteenth century, they were allowed to reestablish at the estate of Nikolaus Ludwig von Zinzendorf. This community grew rapidly and became a center of Christian renewal and missionary work over the course of the century. In fact, the Moravian missionaries were the first large scale Protestant missionary movement and sent hundreds of missionaries to all parts of the globe. This work included missions to the coast of Labrador. This site, created by a joint effort of the University of Toronto Libraries, Memorial University Libraries, and the Bibliothque de l'Universit Laval, provides a thorough and fascinating look at the 250-year relationship between the Moravian missionaries and the Inuit of Labrador. The site includes background information on the Moravian Church, the Inuit, and Labrador as well as detailed looks at the various Moravian mission stations. After getting acquainted with the mission and the Inuit, visitors should be sure to check out both the interactive timeline and interactive map provided. The site also provides a teacher toolkit as well as a series of related links. [CMH]

Hidden Truths: The Chicago City Cemetery & Lincoln Park [Macromedia Flash Player]

As a lecturer at Northwestern University, Pamela Bannos has found herself researching all sorts of topics over the years, and she recently found herself intrigued with the history of the former Chicago City Cemetery and Lincoln Park. Her basic interest in this project was to detail how this cemetery eventually became Lincoln Park over the course of the 19th century. Drawing on a range of historical sources and documents, she has created an online multimedia exhibit which delves into the history of the cemetery, Lincoln Park, and by extension the shifting urban landscape in this part of Chicago. On the site, visitors can learn about the various elements of the cemetery, investigate the process by which the graves were moved, and also learn about subsequent excavations in the 20th century. It's a fascinating project, and one that will pique the interest of anyone with a penchant for urban history. [KMG]

The Economics of Early Childhood Policy [pdf]

What, pray tell, might the so-called "dismal science" of economics have to say about public investment in early childhood programs? Quite a bit, as it turns out. This report from the RAND Corporation takes an economic perspective on such investments, and its intent is to provide policymakers with a primer about "how economic analysis can help set agendas for early childhood policy and identify the economics benefits of targeting certain groups for help." Released in May 2008, the 48-page report draws on concepts including human capital theory and monetary "payoffs" from investments in early childhood programs. The report is divided into four chapters, including "Human Capital Theory" and "Implications for Early Childhood Policy". It's quite a compelling read, and it will be of interest to a broad range of persons working in fields such as early childhood development, economics, and public policy. [KMG]

Tarlton Law Library in Popular Culture Collection

The Tarlton Law Library at the University of Texas School of Law hosts this collection, which focuses on law in popular culture. The goal of the collection is "to provide as broad a picture as possible of the image of the lawyer in the United States and British Commonwealth." The collection consists of works of fiction in all genres as well as legal humor, plays, and feature films. If you can't make it to Austin to check out these materials in person the site provides quite a bit for the virtual visitor. There are a number of E-texts available including "Collins to Grisham: A brief history of the legal thriller" as well as an entire bibliography of e-texts which tell "the lawyer's story." Visitors may also want to check out the fun section entitled "Lawyerly Quotations from Popular Culture". In addition, the site provides a number of movie posters, movie stills, and lobby cards to peruse. [CMH]

The Chesapeake Project [pdf]

The Chesapeake Project is a digital preservation program established "to preserve and ensure permanent access to vital legal information currently available on the World Wide Web." The project is a collaboration implemented under the Legal Information Preservation Alliance (LIPA) with three member libraries: Georgetown University Law Library, State Law Library of Maryland, and Virginia State Law Library. The project hopes to lay the foundation for a nationwide program to preserve materials supporting "legal research, practice, and scholarship in the U.S." On the site, visitors can keyword search for legal information, browse through materials, or view a list of collections already in place. Also available on the site is a "My favorites" which helps users save information they found useful or would like to reference in the future. Visitors can also view the overall plan for the Project in pdf format, as well as read a case study of the Project. Overall, this is a valuable enterprise, and for those interested in topics from animal law to the Supreme Court this site should prove quite valuable. [CMH]

National Park Service Travel Itinerary: Richmond, Virginia [Macromedia Flash Player]

The National Park Service's Heritage Education Services has created a number of educational and interesting travel itineraries for destinations around the United States. Here they invite you to explore Richmond, Virginia, but you don't have to actually travel to Richmond to enjoy the itinerary for this site as it provides a wealth of valuable information on this historically and architecturally rich city. The site includes four essays including "Antebellum Architecture in Richmond" and "Richmond's African American Heritage" which shouldn't be missed. In addition, they provide a list of sites all of which include brief histories and photos of various sites not to be missed in Richmond. Overall, the site provides an interesting look into the city of Richmond and may encourage a future visit to this capital city. [CMH]

The Ramayana: Love and Valour in Indias Great Epic [Macromedia Flash Player, Quick Time]

The British Library presents this online exhibition to complement their in situ exhibit of the Ramayana manuscripts. The Ramayana is an ancient Sanskrit epic dated from around 500 to 100 BCE, which tells the story of Prince Rama's quest to rescue his beloved wife Sita. The Ramayana manuscripts were commissioned by Rana Jagat Singh of Mewar (1628-52) and are "among the most important documents of seventeenth century Indian painting." Of the original seven books, four complete books and part of a fifth are in the British Library. Visitors to the site should begin by clicking on the "Quick Guide" which provides valuable background information on the story as well as the manuscript. From there, visitors should be ready to click on "Turning the Pages" which allows you to "virtually turn the pages of the Jagat Singh Ramayana manuscript." Here, you can magnify details, read or listen to commentary on each page and even store your own notes. Overall, this site is worth a number of visits and the manuscripts are truly beautiful works of art. [CMH]

Network Tools

Pidgin 2.4.2

Represented by a pluckish plum-colored pigeon, the Pidgin open-source messaging application could potentially clean up any pesky and persistent messaging conundrums. The application allows users to access multiple instant messaging networks from one window. Some of the supported instant messaging applications include Google Talk, MySpaceIM, Jabber, and Gadu-Gadu. This version of Pidgin is compatible with computers running Windows 98, Me, NT, 2000, and XP. [KMG]

FeedDemon 2.7

With RSS feeds busting out all over, it can be hard to keep track of one's favorites. Feed Demon 2.7 can help ease such potential information woes by offering a newsreader that is both simple enough for neophytes and customizable enough for those who can't get enough Boing Boing or style updates from the New York Times. This version of FeedDemon 2.7 is compatible with computers running Windows 95 and newer. [KMG]

In The News

Phoenix Mars Lander seeks water and "life" on Mars

Lander Sees Mars Under Microscope

Phoenix Mars Mission

Phoenix Mars Lander Spotted from Space

NASA: 'Extreme programming' controls Mars Lander robot

iTunesU adds Phoenix Mars Mission movies

The Mercury Theatre on the Air: War of the Worlds

NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander was launched in August of 2007 and landed on the red planet on May 25th of this year. Since its landing the Lander has performed admirably, putting its robotic arms and other tools to work on the Martian surface. This week the Lander has been put to work collecting, testing, and photographing Martian soil. The Lander has been instructed to dig up dirt and then use its microscopes to send images 171 million miles away to Earth. The Phoenix is currently located in Mar's northern polar region and the Lander will hopefully test the soil and a layer of ice believed to exist just below the surface. The Phoenix mission is focused on Mar's water, which is primarily ice, and the carbon containing compounds that may exist in the soil. This may provide clues as to whether they were made by living organisms on the planet rather than merely space debris. Although the mission has encountered a few glitches along the way, the Lander is still performing its duties as planned and the mission is still on schedule. Glitches are to be expected as communication over so long a distance is slow going and maneuvers must be practiced a number of times to ensure that the final results are accurate. Communication between the Lander and Earth is relayed by an orbiting satellite and can take well over 15 minutes. This time gap in communications requires patience on the part of the Lander's operators, as mission leader Peter H. Smith explains, "It is like explaining to someone over the phone how to tie their shoes. You have to give them all the steps, and then you can't quite tell what they are doing." [CMH]

The first link leads to a piece from the Washington Post explaining how the Phoenix is digging up Martian dirt and how it is transmitting this data to Earth. The second link is to the Phoenix Mission's home page where visitors can find the latest news, blogs, and an image gallery of the mission from the University of Arizona's Lunar and Planetary Laboratory. The third link is from and covers the landing of the Phoenix and discusses and provides images taken by an orbiting spacecraft. The fourth link is an interesting article from Computerworld, which discusses the "extreme programming" that went into making the Lander operate. The fifth link will take you to an article and link from Macworld, which details the Mars Lander videos now available for free on iTunesU. Last, for a nostalgic look at life on Mars, a link is provided to the Mercury Theater's broadcast of "War of the Worlds" by H.G. Wells available for free download via Real Audio or MP3. [CMH]

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