The Scout Report -- Volume 15, Number 4

January 30, 2009

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

RAND: Health Compare [pdf, Macromedia Flash Player]

For visitors who know there are multiple problems with the U.S. health care system, but are puzzled by proposed reforms, this website is a great resource. The RAND Corporation, a non-profit institution that tackles tough policy problems across a broad spectrum, has a website devoted to learning about this very important and complex issue. Visitors may first want to go to the link "U.S. Health Care Today", located on the left side of the page. Once there, visitors can click on nine different topics that are crucial to the understanding of the health care system, such as "Consumer Financial Risk", "Waste", "Reliability", and "Operational Feasibility". To learn about the various policy changes that could be made, and the consequences of those changes, the visitor should click on "Policy Options" on the left side of the page. The possibilities options include changing insurance coverage, benefit design, and legal environment. Under the "Analysis of Options" link, located on the left side of the page, there is a unique chart called the Policy Options Dashboard that allows the visitor to explore the effects the various policy changes would have on the aforementioned topics listed in the "U.S. Health Care Today" link. The visitor can also click on the effects the changes would have, such as "No Effect", "Uncertain", "Positive", "Negative", or "No Evidence". [KMG]

Center for Aging Services Technologies [pdf]

This website is a boon for anyone who researches, works, or cares for the elderly, particularly considering its aging-related services focus. The Center for Aging Services Technologies (CAST) describes itself in its "About CAST" section as "an international coalition of more than 400 technology companies, aging-services organizations, businesses, research universities, and government representatives working together under the auspices of the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging."
To get a good idea of the latest ways technology is being used to improve the lives of seniors, visitors should click on the "Newsroom" tab at the top pf the page to choose among dozens of articles that provide examples, such as "High-Tech Devices Keep Elderly Safe from Afar", "Gadgets for Growing Old at Home", and "Broadband's Role in the Aging Experience". To read about some of the pilot projects that CAST is involved in, visitors should click on the "Pilots" tab at the top of the page. From there, the visitor will see a list of pilot project case studies that can be clicked on and viewed as PDFs. Each study is written up clearly and includes such information as Lessons Learned, Challenges, Implementation, and Outcome. Studies that weren't successful were even included, and researchers and others will find much to learn from here. [KMG]

Virginia Emigrants to Liberia

With the assistance of the American Colonization Society from 1820-1865, 3,700 hundred free blacks emigrated from Virginia, to Liberia to establish the first African Republic. This well-researched gem of a website from the University of Virginia provides an interesting look into the lives of the emigrants as well as a glimpse into the identities of the emancipators who freed their slaves in order to allow them to emigrate to Liberia. A large number of resources on the emigration to Liberia are also provided. Visitors can click on "Resources" at the top of the page, to find a tab entitled "Timeline", which provides a detailed history of Liberia, with links to primary sources such as letters, articles, photographs, and even the Constitution of Liberia. Once visitors have gotten their bearings there, they can click on "Search Emigrants" to search by name, county or city of origin, ship name, emancipator, and destination. Visitors can also click "Search Emancipators" by last name, county or year of emancipation. Also under "Resources", the "Links" tab has more than two-dozen links to resources about Liberia and African Americans from a variety of authoritative websites. To read some of the intriguing stories behind the names of the emigrants and emancipators that visitors may have found in their searches, click on "Stories" at the top of the web page. The stories of ten families, individuals, emigrants, and emancipators are detailed in this link. [KMG]

Survey and Questionnaire Tutorial [pdf]

What are the important factors to consider when designing a survey? Would it be best conducted via telephone? Or would it be better to have a face-to-face meeting? These are but a few of the topics covered on this site created as a public service by the StatPac group. Visitors can elect to download the entire report on survey design here, or they can just click through the topics that interest them. Each topic includes a brief discussion of its relative importance, and the areas covered include questionnaire length, time considerations, question wording, and sampling methods. It's a thoughtful and helpful resource overall, and it's one that might be put to good use in an introductory statistics course in college. [KMG]

OECD: Climate Change [pdf],3355,en_2649_34361_1_1_1_1_1,00.html

Climate change is something that is on the minds of many major non-governmental organizations and international think tanks. It has certainly not escaped the attention of the Organisation For Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD), which has had a climate change group as part of their environment directorate for a number of years. Their work is meant "to assist countries to implement effective and efficient policies to address climate change by conducting policy-relevant research and analysis." Near the top of their homepage, visitors will find two particularly helpful sections: "Publications & Documents" and "Information By Country". The "Publications & Documents" are divided into sections that include news releases, policy briefs, case studies, and best practices. The "Don't Miss" area found on the right hand side of the homepage brings together some of their key works, including "Climate Change Mitigation: What Do We Do?" and "Ranking Port Cities with High Exposure and Vulnerability to Climate Extremes." [KMG]

Walter Reed Army Institute of Research [pdf]

Some readers might be aware of the well-known Walter Reed Hospital, but they may have never heard of the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research. Located in Silver Spring, Maryland, the Institute is the largest and most diverse biomedical research laboratory in the Department of Defense. First-time visitors will want to look over their "News" area, which provides a bit of background on their programs and research initiatives. Moving on, the "Divisions" area contains links to the Institute's different research divisions, which include military casualty research, preventive medicine, and retrovirology. In each of these sections, visitors can learn about their recent success stories, the history of each division, and about their formal training programs, and upcoming clinical trials. The site also includes information for those who might be interested in joining an upcoming clinical trial. [KMG]

Bodleian Library Broadside Ballads

There are few things as fine as a ballad, and the Bodleian Library at the University of Oxford happens to have over 30,000 in its collection. Broadside ballads were popular songs, and they were generally sold for a penny (or less) in villages around Britain between the sixteenth and twentieth centuries. Many of these ballads have been digitized and placed on this website for use by music historians, social historians, and members of the general public. Visitors can click on "The Project" to learn a bit more about this initiative, and they can move on to listen to a few sound files, and also learn about the graphic images used on such pieces of music. By that point, users will be very excited to browse through the digital collection on their own. If they click on the "Browse/Search" area, they can perform a detailed search on the ballad titles or first lines. To get started, visitors might want to type in words like "lucky" or "horse". [KMG]

Digital Research Tools

As more and more scholars grow interested in the world of digital research, this tremendously useful wiki will be one that they will tell their colleagues about. Created by Lisa Spiro, the director of the Digital Media Center at Rice University, this collaborative wiki collects information about tools and resources that can help scholars conduct research more efficiently or creatively. Visitors can browse through topical headings that include "Authoring", "Blogging", and "Data Mining", among others. Within each heading, visitors can read short descriptions about each resource. Under the "Types of Tools" section visitors can search for specific tools that can help them collect data, edit images, make a dynamic map, and so on. Additionally, visitors can sign up to join the wiki here and also learn more about Spiro and her other projects. [KMG]

General Interest

National Journal Magazine

National Journal magazine has been part of the political reporting and analysis landscape since 1969. Working with a team of crack reporters, they "provide foresight and insight to Washington's corridors of influence on a weekly basis." They cover a wide range of issues, including the state of Congress, defense, health care, and national security. On this site, visitors can read their cover stories, look through the table of contents, peruse a list of articles arranged topically, and check out their regular features. The site has some noteworthy multimedia features, including the "Hotline TV" section which contains links to short news segments and insider analysis of today's political issues. Right beneath this area is the "Columns" section. Here, users can view the latest columns by Charlie Cook, Mark Blumenthal, and John Mercurio. Finally, visitors should check out the weblogs, as they are quite good and include intelligent and informed responses to the different posts. [KMG]

Stanford Humanities Center: Events Archive [Real Player, iTunes]

Stanford University invites many distinguished guests to its campus in Palo Alto every year, and the Stanford Humanities Center certainly sees its fair share of those various talented individuals. In the past few years, the Center has worked to make more and more of their talks and lectures available to the general public via this site. The archive dates back to 2003, although the first lecture available online is from 2004. The guests include such figures as New York Times critic Anthony Tommasini, Marina Warner, and Richard Taruskin. For many of the lectures, visitors can play the talk or lecture directly from the site, or they can also download the file directly to their own computer. Additionally, visitors may also wish to check out the Stanford iTunes Podcasts site, as there is a link provided here as well. [KMG]

Independent Lens: Please Vote For Me

Independent Lens recently went inside a classroom in the Chinese city of Wuhan to witness a rather interesting experiment in democracy. Recently, elementary students at the Evergreen Primary School there were asked to elect a class monitor. Filmmaker Weijun Chen took his cameras inside the classroom to document this process, and the results are quite fascinating. Visitors to the site can learn about Chen and his work in "The Filmmakers" area. When here, visitors shouldn't neglect to read Chen's statement on democracy and to take a look at his biography. Moving on, visitors should also click on the "China" area. Here they will find information about China's one-child policy, their educational system, and some of the patriotic songs featured in the film. In the "Learn More" visitors can make their way through a collection of external links that complement the material covered in the film. Finally, visitors can watch a preview of the film and also offer their own feedback on the program. [KMG]

New Jersey Historical Maps

Taking a geographic trip through the history of New Jersey just got much easier, courtesy of the Rutgers University Cartographic Services. There's really something for everyone here, as the site contains over 150 maps that cover glacier movements, historical county boundaries, early city maps and plans, and historical railroad maps. The site doesn't have a search engine, so visitors may have to browse around for a bit to find what they are looking for here. One collection that is definitely worth a look is "The Changing Landscape of New Jersey". Here, visitors can click on a specific county, which will lead them to a set of diverse maps complete with a brief set of facts about each county. Also included for each county are links to the county's historical society (if available), other historical collections for the county, and a helpful article entitled "A Historian's tips to students researching local history". [KMG]

Splendor and Elegance: European Decorative Arts and Drawings from the Horace Wood Brock Collection [Macromedia Flash Player]

Some very fine wares are on display in the online exhibit of decorative arts and drawings from the Horace Wood Brock Collection at the Massachusetts of Fine Arts, Boston. An excellent tour of 20 of the exhibit's almost 75 pieces is accessible with the click of your mouse. Just look for the bright red rectangular button with the word tour emblazoned on it in white, and you're on your way. The beginning of the tour gives a brief overview of the exhibit's focus, and clicking "Start Here" will take the visitor through each piece. For visitors who want to pick and choose what pieces to see in more detail, they can click on the thumbnails and use the red arrows next to the thumbnails to progress through the collection. Once the visitor is viewing a piece in detail, there are several ways in which to explore the piece. Clicking on the magnifying glass allows the visitor to examine the details of the piece, using the arrows to pan within the image, and clicking on "larger image" opens a new window to get a full view of the piece. And the fun doesn't stop there, visitors who wish share their splendid findings can click "Send as an ecard" to send out a message accompanied by the image of the piece they have enjoyed. [KMG]

National Institutes of Health: Health Information [pdf]

The Health Information portion of the National Institutes of Health website covers a wide range of topics. This consumer-oriented site includes Quick Links, on the left side of the page, to such topics as "Child & Teen Health", "Men's Health", "Minority Health", and "Seniors' Health". To browse health categories, the visitor can browse several different ways. They can browse under "Body Location/Systems", "Conditions/Diseases", "Procedures", and "Health and Wellness". On the left side of the page the visitor can also choose to search for Health Topics alphabetically and for those more inclined toward audio learning, visitors can listen to NIH Radio by clicking on "MP3 audio reports" on the right side of the page. The Research in Action feature in the top middle of the page offers insight into how humans hear. Just click on the picture above Research in Action to be taken to the article. For visitors who just can't find what they need on the Health Information site, there are a slew of Related Links near the bottom of the page, including Health Information on the Web, Health Newsletters, Health Databases, and Federal Health Agencies. [KMG]

Rocky Mountain Online Archive

The Rocky Mountain Online Archive contains archival collections in Colorado, Wyoming, and New Mexico from 20 participating institutions. To view a list of these institutions, visitors should click on the "About" tab at the top of the page, then click on the link "Participating Institutions". Visitors can click on the "Browse the Archive" tab at the top of the page to browse by institutions, subcategorized by Colorado, Wyoming and New Mexico, or by subjects, which includes the subcategories of subjects, genre, and places. The genres represented are "Audio-visual", "Correspondence", "Diaries", and "Photographs". Visitors may find the abundance of oral histories available under the "Audio-visual" tab very interesting to explore. The "Inventory of the Alamo Navajo Oral History Project 1977-1984", "Inventory of Italians of Albuquerque Oral History Project, 1995-1996", and "Guide to the North Poudre Irrigation Company Oral history Collection" are just some of the many available oral histories. [KMG]

Engaging Digital Tibet

The Columbia Center for New Media Teaching and Learning presents this resource for the study of Tibet. Primarily a database of digital objects, Engaging Digital Tibet provides tools that should enable instructors to create valuable learning experiences. For each object, lengthy annotations are provided, often linked to various details of the item. A silk Hevajra Tapestry, ca. 13th century, can be displayed accompanied by 9 notes, contextualizing the piece, explaining that Hevajra is a semi-wrathful form of Buddha, discussing the symbolism of the tapestry, and that it was created for religious use. There is also a bibliographic note with citations for more information, both online and in print. Another example is a 20th century Medicine Buddha Wall Mural located inside the Amgon Monastery. The object comes complete with a formal analysis, pointing out that although the mural was created for religious purposes, it is indeed a work of art. [DS]

Network Tools

ReminderFox 1.9

For those times when you need to remember an important birthday (aren't they all important?), a paper due date, or a special occasion, ReminderFox 1.9 can be of great assistance. The application was designed for users who don't want to run a whole calendar application, but they still want to be kept alert about various happenings and such. This version is compatible with all operating systems. [KMG]

OpenOffice 3.0.1

Open Office is a fine choice for those looking for an alternative to some of the other commercial word processing software packages. This latest version of OpenOffice includes several new templates for professional writers, weblog publishing, and a tool that will help users export documents for functionality with Google Docs. This particular version is compatible with all operating systems. [KMG]

In The News

John Updike, Critic and Author, Dies At Age 76

Pulitzer Prize-Winning Author John Updike Dies at Age 76 [Real Player]

Remembering Updike

For better or worse, John Updike produced a nearly endless stream of work,0,6965396.story

John Updike: This I Believe [Real Player]

Invisible Cathedral: A Walk Through the New Modern

Updike Desert Comix

Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu

This Tuesday, John Updike, chronicler of the American condition in the mid and late twentieth century passed away in Danvers, Massachusetts. Throughout his six decades of writing, Updike found time to write about the world of suburban existence (and ennui), colonial Africa, a Jewish writer in Eastern Europe, and a group of women living in a small New England Town in The Witches of Eastwick, and its 2008 follow-up volume, The Widows of Eastwick. Updike was always the polymath, and during his student days at Harvard University, he found time to write and draw cartoons for the Harvard Lampoon. He continued his diverse pursuits throughout his life, as he wrote a great deal of literary criticism for publications like The New Yorker and The New York Times. In an interview, Updike remarked that his primary subject was "Protestant, small-town middle class." Literary organizations and institutions responded positively to his various narratives, as he was the recipient of two Pulitzer Prizes, the National Book Award, and three National Book Critics' Circle awards during his lifetime. [KMG]

The first link will take users to a news story from National Public Radio this Wednesday, which reports on Updike's passing. The second link leads to a lovely selection of Updike remembrances offered by fellow literary travelers Joyce Carol Oates, Paul Theroux, Richard Ford, and others. Moving on, the third link leads to a reflection on Updike's work and legacy by David L. Ulin, which appeared in this Tuesday's Los Angeles Times. The fourth link will whisk users away Updike's personal essay from 2005 offered as part of the "This I Believe" series. The fifth link leads to Updike's assessment of the new Museum of Modern Art, which appeared in the November 15, 2004 edition of The New Yorker. The sixth link will take interested parties to one of the "comix" he created for the Harvard Lampoon during his stay in Cambridge. Finally, the last link leads to one of Updike's most beloved pieces of writing (particularly for baseball fans), "Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu". It's a piece that describes the world of Ted Williams as he prepares for his last game with the Boston Red Sox, and it's one that's worth rereading, even if it might be the twentieth time. [KMG]

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