The Scout Report -- Volume 14, Number 23

June 13, 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

Introduction to Public International Law Research

Aspiring lawyers and academics hoping to peer into the world of public international law will be glad to learn about this site. Authored by lawyer and researcher Vicenc Feliu, this introduction to public international law research is offered up as part of the Hauser Global Law School Program at New York University's Law School. Published in May/June 2008, this thorough introduction includes a host of information about online and offline resources that will come in handy. After reading the introduction, visitors can browse around sections that offer up material on treaties, case law, and relevant journals.
Along the way, visitors will also learn about the major players in public international law, such as the United Nations, the Council of Europe, and the European Union. Overall, this site is indispensable, and visitors with an interest in this area will want to tell their colleagues and friends about it. [KMG]

Climate Action: Energy For A Changing World [pdf]

Recently, the European Union member nations agreed to work on a package of proposals that will help fight climate change and promote renewable energy. Overall, the intent of these programs is to reduce greenhouse gases by at least 20% and increases to 20% the share of renewable energies in energy consumption by 2020. This fine website serves as the clearinghouse for all of the information related to this ambitious project. First-time visitors may wish to look over the "Citizens' Summary", which is available in all of the European Union languages, including Maltese, English, and Dutch. After that, users can look over fact sheets for each country and read a number of working documents created by European Commission staff members. On the left-hand side of the page, visitors can learn about European Union Sustainable Energy week, watch a short video about these proposals, and also even read additional reports on emissions trading schemes. [KMG]

Boosting Productivity, Innovation, and Growth through a National Innovation Foundation [pdf]

How might the United States boost productivity, innovation, and growth? It's a good question, and scholars and researchers at The Brookings Institution have come up with a compelling idea that's worth a look in this 75-page report. Released in April 2008, the report, authored by Robert Atkinson and Howard Wial, suggests that the federal government should establish a National Innovation Foundation (NIF) which would be "devoted to supporting firms and other organizations in their innovative activities". The NIF would also be responsible for catalyzing industry-university research partnerships, expanding regional innovation-promotion, and encouraging technology adoption. Visitors can read their executive summary here, and also look over the other eleven chapters and appendices. It's a rather intriguing idea, and one that will pique the interest of urban planners, economists, and many other stakeholders. [KMG]

Sunk in Lucre's Sordid Charms: South Sea Bubble Resources in the Kress Collection at Baker Library

The very name "South Sea Bubble" conjures up an image of a marauding marine monster seeking to prey on unsuspecting spice traders and thieving pirates. Actually, the South Sea Bubble refers to a "complex network of intersecting financial, legal, political, and cultural factors" which contributed to the "bubble" in question. This bubble led to the total collapse of the South Sea Company in 1720, which led to a massive series of financial catastrophes. Not surprisingly, this fine digital documentation project of the South Sea Bubble was undertaken by the Baker Library at the Harvard Business School.
Visitors can click on the "What is the South Sea Bubble?" to learn a bit more about the basic outline of the history of this financial collapse and then move on over to the actual collection of items. Here they will find topical lists divided into such headings as "Commerce and Trade", "Government and Politics", "Crime and Law", and "Finance". Each of these areas contains complete bibliographical information about each item, and visitors can also click on the "List All Digital Content" link to find the items that are currently available directly through this site. The site is rounded out by a "Project Overview" area that provides a brief sketch of how this collection was created. [KMG]

Mathematics Education at West Point: The First Hundred Years

In 1834, the Committee on Military Affairs at the United States Military Academy at West Point was unequivocal in their support for mathematics, noting that "Mathematics is the study which forms the foundation of the course of study at the United States Military Academy". This fine piece of research by V. Frederick Rickey and Amy Shell-Gellasch looks at the first hundred years of mathematics education at West Point, offered as part of the Convergence magazine published by the Mathematical Association of America (MAA). Following a brief introduction, the piece takes a close look at the role of mathematics education during the early years of West Point, and then moves on to examine the use of various mathematics textbooks and principles during the next century. It's an engaging read, and one can imagine that this article could be used in any number of educational history or mathematics education courses. [KMG]

Historical Book Arts Collection

The history of the book is a fascinating subject, and one that is addressed head on by this most wonderful collection from the University of Washington Libraries Historical BookArts Collection. This digital collection features a sampling of materials held in their Special Collections Division and is primarily intended to serve as a teaching tool. The materials here are contained within sections that include "Binding", "Printing", "Paper", and three others. By clicking on each section, visitors can find digitized images that illustrate everything from examples of insect damage, endsheets, and gilt stamped works. Along with the actual items, visitors will also want to read the three essays offered here, including "Illustration Techniques" and "19th Century Bindings". Finally, visitors can also search the entire collection via three well-designed search functions. [KMG]

Jonathan Swift: Journal to Stella

Long before he took a journey to Lilliput, satirist and all-around man of letters Jonathan Swift took up his quill in 1710 to write a series of letter-diaries that became known as the "Journal to Stella". In these writings, Swift wrote to one Esther Johnson, who died shortly after Gulliver's Travels appeared in 1727. These letters reveal a rather different Swift than one might discover through reading his letters to such well-known personages of the time as Alexander Pope and others. This digital version of these compelling correspondences was created by the English department at the University of Oxford. Visitors can click on the "About" section to learn more about Swift, this electronic version of the letters, and the editors of this project. After browsing through the letters at their leisure, users can also login or register to post comments on these writings. Also, users will appreciate the hypertext links within the letters that lead to other documents and pieces of writings mentioned by Swift. [KMG]

Online Nevada Encyclopedia

Nevada is much more than the Hoover Dam and a certain large neon-drenched city, and the Online Nevada Encyclopedia revels in covering aspects of the state that include business, mining, politics, exploration, and the economy of the Silver State. Started in 2007, the Encyclopedia has been developed by the Nevada Humanities organization, with generous support of the U.S. Department of Education and the State of Nevada. It's a good idea to start a tour through the site by looking at one of the exhibit galleries, which include "Civil Rights in Nevada" and "Hoover Dam". All four of the current exhibits bring together primary documents with brief descriptions of each document. After that, visitors should head over to the topical areas to read high-quality articles about various facets of the state. All of the articles are authored by subject experts, and they cover everything from the archaeology of Tule Springs to the spooky world of the state's many ghost towns. [KMG]

General Interest

Lost Titles, Forgotten Rhymes: How to Find a Novel, Short Story, or Poem Without Knowing its Title or Author

What if you wanted to locate Robert Burton's masterful 17th century opus, The Anatomy of Melancholy? But wait: You can't remember his name or the name of the book. That's where you should know to click on over to this delightful and helpful reference guide created by Peter Armenti, Digital Reference Specialist at the Library of Congress. The intent of this guide is to "help readers identify a literary work when they know only its plot or subject, or other textual information such as a character's name, a line of poetry, or a unique word or phrase". The guide is divided into three separate sections: "Finding Novels", "Finding Short Stories", and "Finding Poems". Each section offers a host of resources that include general search engines, online book databases, library catalogs, listservs, message boards, and physical print resources available in many public libraries. This guide is rounded out by a selection of related resources, including a primer on how to find poems in the Library of Congress. [KMG]

Early Real Estate Atlases of New York

Archaeologists, planners, architects, and urbanologists alike all enjoy a good fire insurance map, and this excellent digital real estate atlas collection from the New York Public Library will be one that they will want to visit repeatedly. This collection brings together real estate maps created by William Perris who surveyed Manhattan and Brooklyn extensively during the 1850s and 1860s. The maps are commonly known as fire insurance maps and they detail streets, blocks, tax lots, the locations of former streams, various natural resources, lot lines, and much more. That's far from all, as the collection also includes atlases of Staten Island from 1874 and atlases of the Bronx from 1921. For anyone interested in urban history or New York City, this collection will prove indispensable. [KMG]

John Templeton Foundation [pdf, Real Player]

John Templeton and the foundation which bears his name have never been interested in just looking into the small questions of humanity. Templeton began his career as a very successful Wall Street investor in 1937, and over the following years he remained interested in scientific research and open-minded inquiry. The Templeton Foundation was started in 1987 in order "to serve as a philanthropic catalyst for discovery in areas engaging life's biggest questions". Over the years, these questions have included investigations into the laws of nature and the universe, along with the nature of love, gratitude, forgiveness and creativity. Visitors who wish to learn more about the Foundation's work may wish to take a look through the FAQ section in the "About Us" area. Another way to get a feel for their work is to look over their "Big Questions" section. Here, visitors can read conversations between leading intellectuals on such questions as "Does science make belief in God obsolete?" and "Does the universe have a purpose?" Other sections of the site cover their funding areas, submitting a proposal for funding, and a newsroom area. [KMG]

Media in Cultural Context: Popular Readerships

This course, offered as part of MIT's OpenCourseWare initiative, starts off by asking "What is the history of popular reading in the Western world?" It continues on by asking a number of equally powerful questions, and the generally curious will enjoy exploring the materials offered here. The course was created by Professor Sarah Brouillette, and originally took place in the fall of 2007. Interested parties can read the syllabus, look over selected readings, and even check out the assignments for the course. Some of the many topics covered in the course include Oprah's Book Club, the sociology of reading, reading as resistance, and the bestseller. The assignments are a real pip, and they include writing essays on niche romance audiences and bestsellers. [KMG]

Venus, Earth's Structural Sister: Investigations Using Radar Imagery [pdf]

Let's face it: It's pretty difficult to get to Venus to do hands-on fieldwork. This helpful teaching resource from Vicki Hansen at the University of Minnesota-Duluth overcomes some of those difficulties by allowing students the opportunity to do just that, in a manner of speaking. Using data from NASA, students will learn how to construct of geologic map of a region of Venus' surface. The concepts covered by this activity include basic mapping principles, remote data set interpretation, and structure morphology. The activity is intended for students in a variety of educational settings, including high school geology classes and introductory college level geology courses. Visitors to this site will find important supporting online resources (such as geologic maps of Venus) and a complete description on how to conduct this activity. [KMG]

American Experience: The American West [Macromedia Flash Player]

In American history, the West is a place of fact, myth, legend, lore, larger-than-life individuals, and a host of other ideas and notions ripe for discussion and analysis. The PBS program "American Experience" takes all of this on in their series, "The American West". They have developed this complementary website which expands on some of the themes of each individual program by offering an interactive "American Frontiers" timeline for visitors, a teacher's guide to using these materials, and two full-length episodes from the series. The "American Frontiers" area allows users to scan through a timeline of important events that begins with the French and Indian War in 1754 and concludes with the annexation of Hawaii in 1898. Moving on, the site also includes "The Westernizer" which asks users to respond to a number of questions to determine what type of person they would have been in the American West. Finally, visitors can watch two episodes from the program in their entirety. They happen to be the first and last programs in the series, and they profile Kit Carson and Buffalo Bill, respectively. [KMG]

Media Channel

The tagline of the Media Channel organization is "As The Media Watch the World We Watch The Media". Founded by media experts Danny Schechter and Rory O'Connor, Media Channel is "concerned with the political, cultural and social impacts of the media, large and small". On their site, visitors can learn about some of their most recent work, which includes sophisticated media analysis of current events, information about journalists in danger, and ongoing coverage of national and international elections and political campaigns. Visitors can make their way through the site's various sections, which include "New Media", "Agenda Setter", "Ownership & Policy", and "Awards". Visitors who find their work useful may also wish to sign up for Media Channel's free electronic newsletter. [KMG]

American Medical Student Association PharmFree Scorecard 2008 [pdf]

The American Medical Student Association (AMSA) has created this rather helpful site which offers a comparison of various conflict of interest policies at academic medical centers around the United States. Titled the "AMSA PharmFree Scorecard" the interactive chart details information about the interactions between major pharmaceutical companies and medical centers by looking at their stated policies on accepting gifts, consulting fees, samples, and so on. Visitors can browse through the list at their leisure, take a look at the "About" section, and also learn more about the methodology used to create this scorecard. Dozens of academic medical centers are surveyed here, and visitors can also click on two institutions to compare their various policies. The site also includes an executive summary of the findings and the latest news from AMSA on this subject. [KMG]

Network Tools


As its name implies, Scribus is a writing application. Specifically, it is a freeware desktop publisher that includes a number of useful features such as PDF creation, separations, and neat page layout interfaces. Visitors can also take advantage of the detailed documentation available on their homepage. This version is compatible with computers running Windows 2000 and XP or Mac OS X 10.3.9 and newer. [KMG]

Comodo Firewall Pro

If you are wary of Trojan viruses and marauding hackers, then this version of Comodo Pro Firewall is worth checking out. The application includes tabs that allow users to customize some of its main features, and while the user interface isn't too fancy, it's still fairly easy to use. This version is compatible with computers running Windows XP or Vista. [KMG]

In The News

"Street art draws attention of the public, potential investors, and law enforcement

Hot art: laughing all the way to the Banksy?

Blek le Rat, the man who gave birth to Banksy

Banksy [Macromedia Flash Player]

Tate Modern: Street Art

TIME: Art of the Street Photo Essay


Many experts and neophytes throughout the ages have asked, "What is art?" Some say there must be a mission statement or intentionality to have real "art", and others say that the matter is completely subjective. Some have created distinctions of "high" and "low" art to distinguish between the work of the Old Masters, for example, and that of young Turks who go around creating street art. One of these young Turks is the Bristol-born Banksy, who is well known for his graffiti projects across the world. Appearing almost out of nowhere, his work has included snarky representations of Queen Elizabeth II, law enforcement representatives, and deeply cynical send-ups of consumer culture. In recent times, Banksy's work, along with fellow street artists like Swoon, has garnered significant attention from cultural critics, the general public, and people who are plain furious about what they call defacement of property. Recently, a piece by Jennifer Hill at Reuters took a close look at the growing interest among investors in such work, even though the work sometimes appears on large buildings and structures, and therefore cannot be moved or modified due to its placement. Financial planner Christine Ross at the SG Hambros Private Bank noted that in thinking about the rising value of such work, "When you come to sell, who knows where the market will be? It can very much depend on what's in vogue. While you'll probably find a buyer for most pieces, at what price?" [KMG]

The first link will take users to a piece by Jennifer Hill from Reuters UK about the rising interest in various types of street art. The second link leads to an article from the Times Online about the "grand old man" of street art, Blek le Rat. Moving on, the third link leads to the homepage of the elusive Banksy. On the site, visitors can learn about his work, and even download a few works for their own personal use. The fourth link leads to information about a current exhibit at the Tate Modern in London, which presents the work of six internationally, acclaimed street artists. The exhibition looks quite fascinating, and well worth a visit. The fifth link leads to an interactive photo essay from TIME which offers up a selection of street art from artists such as WK, Miss Van, and Pez. The final link whisks visitors away to the collaborative weblog "Streetart" which is a place for "photos of DIY posters, guerilla stickers, home-made stencils, etc.". [KMG]

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