The Scout Report -- Volume 15, Number 7

February 20, 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

The California Geotour: Online Geologic Field Trip Guides [pdf]

There are many great ways to learn about the geological history of California, including reading some of the works by noted writer John McPhee. Additionally, the state of California's Department of Conservation has created these very fine online geologic field trip guides. It might be more accurate to say that the site is an interactive index of web pages that contain geologic field guides containing photographs, maps, texts, and directions for local natural features from Humboldt County down to the Inland Empire. The index is organized into geographic regions collectively referred to as the "Geomorphic Provinces of California". Additionally, these geological areas are subdivided into groups like Owens Valley, Lassen Park, and Point Reyes. Overall, it's a great resource, and one that will be appreciated by just about anyone with a penchant for geology or the Golden State. [KMG]

Public.Resource.Org [pdf]

The tag line of the pro-public domain Public.Resource.Org is "Making Government Information More Accessible." The site has an agency directory that denotes the agency by its web address, which may initially look daunting, with the alphabet soup that make up the names of government agencies. However, Public.Resource.Org gives the visitors clues to the meanings of the potpourri of letters in their agency directory when the web address is rolled over. By rolling over each agency, and the seal above the directory changes from a smiling seal (the aquatic animal) to the logo of the agency. So, visitors will soon learn that is the site for California Building Standards Commission, is the site for the Federal Judicial Center, and so on. Each agency site has "commentary" by Public.Resource.Org that relates their past and present trials and tribulations with getting the documents and work of the agencies into the public domain. To view the latest in government videotapes, visitors can click on the FedFlix link on the bottom far right side of the homepage. Currently, there are over 500 Flix on the Internet archive. [KMG]

Citizen Journalist's Guide to Open Government

As more and more citizens decide to use both new and traditional media to engage in investigative reporting, they may wonder how they can find out more about governmental activities. The Citizen Journalist's Guide to Open Government, provided by the Knight Citizen News Network, is an excellent place to start. The guide is divided into ten "doors", covering everything from "Access to Courts" to "Following Up on Records Requests". Behind each "door" visitors can take part in interactive learning activities, watch video clips featuring interviews with experts, and just generally learn about how to secure access to crucial documents, meetings, and court reports. Finally, visitors won't want to miss their weblog, which provides users with a place to ask questions about government records, meetings, or courts. [KMG]

American Cinema

Teaching creative thinking through American film is a worthy idea, and this educational resource from the Annenberg Media group is quite a find. Produced by the New York Center for Visual History along with KCET/Los Angeles and the BBC, this thirteen-part series contains 10 one-hour and 3 half-hour video programs. Visitors will need to register to watch the programs, but after doing so they can watch all of them in their entirety, and they may also view special extras, like the classroom exercise "Writing a Scene". The programs cover topics like "The Western", "The Studio System", and "The Film School Generation". Along the way, visitors will also hear from a variety of Hollywood insiders, including Steven Spielberg and James L. Brooks. [KMG]

Teaching Geologic Map Interpretation with Google Earth

The Structural Geology Resources Collection at Carleton College presents a wide cornucopia of material, and this latest addition adds another new facet to their collection. These two new resources utilize Google Earth in order to help college students learn about geologic map interpretation, and they were created by Barbara Tewskbury at Hamilton College and Charlie Onasch at Bowling Green State University. After reading the brief introduction to these two instructional resources, visitors can click on each one to learn about their respective goals and methodology. [KMG]

Agriculture, Climate Change, and Carbon Sequestration [pdf]

The National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service produces new and compelling research on the world of sustainable agriculture and organic farming. Recently, specialists Jeff Schahczenski and Holly Hill wrote this 16-page paper on "the relationship between agriculture, climate change and carbon sequestration." Broadly speaking, the paper looks at the science of climate change and also answers questions such as "How does agriculture influence climate change?" and "How does climate change influence agriculture?". Using a range of graphics and charts, the report answers some of these timely questions along with pointing the way forward to how farmers and the government might work on subsidizing positive behavior regarding carbon taxes and other matters. The report is a thoughtful one, and it's something that policy specialists and those with an interest in agriculture will want to pass along to their colleagues. [KMG]

The Study of the Spanish-Speaking People of Texas [pdf]

In 1948, University of Texas Professor George I. Sanchez was interested in commissioning a set of photographs for his forthcoming "Study of the Spanish-Speaking People of Texas". The study was a socioeconomic work aimed to educated public officials and bureaucrats about the growing Spanish-speaking populace of the Lone Star State. Sanchez was a firm believer in the power of photographs to portray various social milieus, so he contracted with photographer Russell Lee to craft such a collection of images. This site presents over 900 photographs taken by Lee, along with information about Lee and his work. Visitors can read a biography of Lee here, and look at some photo essays organized by city, including Corpus Christi and El Paso. The site also provides a selection of lesson plans for teachers and a finding aid. [KMG]

Elements of Architecture

What is the difference between a Doric and a Corinthian column? How have architects used windows to increase the beauty and functionality of buildings? These questions (and many others) are answered by this exemplary website created by the St. Louis Public Library. This online exhibit draws on the George Fox Steedman Architectural Collection, which was donated to the Library in 1928. The Collection contains drawings and renderings from early Frank Lloyd Wright editions and Gustave Eiffel's book on his Tower. Images from these works are used in the four areas of this site, which include "The Dome", "Waterworks", and "Letting in Light". "Letting in Light" is a lovely place to start, as it provides a breezy tour through the use of windows by the Romans all the way up to innovations of more modern times. Within each section, visitors can zoom in on each document and they can also read a bit of background information on each item. [KMG]

General Interest

The Alfred Whital Stern Collection of Lincolniana

Alfred Whital Stern was a long-time collector of Lincolniana who bequeathed his entire collection to the Library of Congress in 1953. He was very catholic in his tastes, as he managed to collect sheet music, broadsides, prints, cartoons, maps, drawings, and campaign tickets related to Lincoln's life and times. This truly astonishing collection from the Library of Congress's American Memory project presents over 1300 items with more than 4000 total images from the years 1824 to 1931. First-time visitors may wish to start by reading the essay by Clark Evans titled "Stern's Gift of Lincolniana to the Nation" and then look through some of the thematic galleries. These include "Lincoln's Letters" and "Collection Highlights". After that, they should definitely conduct their own keyword search, and they may wish to start out by typing in "glasses", "Springfield", or "Kentucky". [KMG]

Expo 67 [Flash Player]

For over 150 years, world's fairs have fascinated the general public with their blend of futuristic optimism and desire to entertain the masses. In 1967, the city of Montreal played host to Expo 67 from April to October. This particular world's fair also set a single-day attendance record when 569,000 visitors came on the third day it was open. The Library and Archives of Canada has created this virtual tour of the fair, complete with information about all the pavilions, activities, and special guests. In the "Pavilions" section, visitors can watch a movie about these unique structures, and also learn about how each country chose to represent their nation at the fair. Another section that's well-worth checking out is the "News Report" area. Here visitors can read some of the news headlines from that heady time. You won't want to leave the site without downloading the Expo 67 logo for your screen saver or checking out the theme song to the fair, "Hey Friend, Say Friend". [KMG]

National Marine Sanctuaries Media Library [Quick Time]

The National Marine Sanctuaries Media Library provides access to thousands of images and video clips that tell the story of "America's underwater treasures." On the homepage, visitors can look through the "Photo Galleries" to get a sense of what the site has to offer. There are six galleries here, and they include "Sea Lion Highlights", "Human Impact", "Fish Portraits", and "Scenic Beauty". Visitors looking for specific items can use the "Keyword" search feature and also take advantage of the "Video" search feature. This feature is quite detailed, as users can look through broad categories like "Birds", "Maritime Heritage", and "Plants". Additionally, visitors can look for media images that originate from specific Marine Sanctuaries sites, including Monterey Bay and the Florida Keys. [KMG]

Vatican City State [Flash Player, pdf]

On February 11, 1929 the Vatican City State was inaugurated with the signing of the Lateran Accords. With its motto, "A small territory with a great mission", the State is celebrating its 80th anniversary with a number of celebrations this year. This very fine site brings together a veritable cornucopia of information about the Vatican City State, including information about its governance structure, monuments, and philatelic culture. Visitors can start their journey by looking at webcams that provide a top-notch view of St. Peter's Square and the Governorate Palace. Moving on, visitors can also click on the "History" section to learn about the long history of the Vatican, and how the term has been used over the millennia. After that, visitors can click on the "Vatican Media" to listen in to Vatican Radio, and check up on official news releases from the Vatican Information Service. [KMG]

Eisenhower National Historic Site [Flash Player]

Recently, the National Park Service has been creating a host of new multimedia virtual museum exhibits. This particular site features the life and times of President Dwight Eisenhower by looking into his wartime leadership, his hobbies, and his successful cattle operation at the Eisenhower Farms in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. The site makes very effective use of multimedia slide shows, ephemeral items, and historic images to tell the story of Eisenhower's rather diverse pursuits. Perhaps the best place to start on the site is the virtual tour of the Eisenhower's family home in Gettysburg. The home still contains many of the original furnishings, and short of being there, this is a great way to experience its various charms. Moving on, visitors can also view a timeline of Eisenhower's achievements and look through the image gallery, which is divided into thematic sections such as "Early Military Career", "Presidency", and "Campaign". [KMG]

World Health Organization: Tropical Diseases [pdf]

This World Health Organization website feature focuses on tropical diseases. For visitors unfamiliar with which diseases out there are considered tropical, this website provides informative fact sheets on fourteen different tropical diseases. To view the factsheets, visitors should click on "Fact Sheets on Tropical Diseases", under the General Information heading near the top of the homepage. The fact sheets cover topics such as "Symptoms", "Transmission", "Treatment", "Prevention", "Economic Cost", and "Diagnosis". Under the "Multimedia" heading near the top of the homepage, visitors can click on the link "10 Facts on Neglected Tropical Diseases", to be taken to a slide show, via the link near the bottom of the page entitled "Read More About Neglected Tropical Diseases". The slide show explains that a neglected tropical disease is a disease that costs little to prevent, does not spread to wealthy areas and is of little priority to pharmaceutical companies when it comes to research and development of medicines for them. Under the Statistics heading near the bottom of the homepage, visitors can click on a link to get to the "Global Health Database", which contains "standardized data and statistics for infectious diseases at country, regional, and global levels." [KMG]

Shakespeare's Staging

The University of California at Berkeley's English Department has undertaken the enormous task of presenting "a survey of current information, opinions and visuals about...the original nature of Shakespearean performance during his lifetime, and of its development through four centuries thereafter." Visitors can click on "Performance Galleries" at the top of the homepage to be taken to ten albums of over 900 images. Some of the topics of the albums that you can link to are "Productions from the Sixteenth through the Twentieth Century", "Productions in Britain 1960-1998", and "Unusual Representations of Shakespeare Performances". The albums contain items such as playbills, photos and drawings of performances, and photos of the rebuilt Globe Theatre. On the far left side of the homepage, visitors can click on "Videos" to view a documentary series about Elizabethan life, as well as excerpts of performances staged by the Shakespeare Program of UC Berkeley at Shakespeare's Globe Theatre. The videos can be viewed by "Latest", "Most Viewed", "Highest Rated", and "Featured". Visitors interested in other websites that explore Shakespeare performance will want to click on "Relevant Websites" on the far left side of the homepage, to access a link that has 27 Shakespeare performance related websites. [KMG]

Becoming Edvard Munch: Influence, Anxiety, and Myth [Flash Player]

Norwegian painter and printmaker Edvard Munch is commonly thought of as a tortured artist, whose personality mirrored his iconic work The Scream. This new exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago is based on recent research that examined Munch's diaries and letters in conjunction with his artwork, to reveal an artist very much in charge of his image, who carefully constructed his own myth. The web exhibition features 30 works by Munch and other artists, selected from over 150 on display at the Art Institute, that can be viewed arranged in themes. "Constructing a Persona" includes two self-portraits: Self-Portrait in Moonlight, a stylized woodcut from 1904, and Self-Portrait with Cigarette, a painting that Munch made in 1895. The "Isolation and Influence" theme presents Munch's work along with that of his contemporaries; Munch's Summer Night: Inger on the Beach in relation to Monet's On the Bank of the Seine, Bennecourt, which Munch may have seen at art dealer Paul Durand-Ruels gallery in 1889.

Network Tools

Camfrog Video Chat 5.2

Talking to people online can be a great deal of fun, and even holding a videoconferencing meeting for work can be a real treat. Both activities are possible with Camfrog Video Chat 5.2, and the online support for this application is very good. Visitors looking to meet new people can join live webcam chat rooms, or they can feel free to create their own. This version of Camfrog Video Chat is compatible with computers running Windows 2000 and newer. [KMG]

TeamViewer 4.0.5615

If you're trying to bring together a team of people spread across four continents to work online, you might want to take a look at the TeamViewer application. Interested parties can use the application for desktop sharing and file transfer, provided all of the computers in question are running TeamViewer. Visitors can also use the application to create presentations. This version is compatible with computers running Windows 95 and newer. [KMG]

In The News

Forensic Science Methods Called Into Question by National Academies Report

Study Calls for Oversight of Forensics in Crime Labs [Free registration may be required]

Call For Forensics Overhaul Linked to 'CSI' Effect

Forensics under the microscope,0,4244313.special

Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States: A Path Forward

Forensic Magazine

DNA Forensics [Flash Player, pdf]

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Forensics Laboratory [pdf, Flash Player]

The average person watching any number of procedural crime television shows might be forgiven if he or she believed that every piece of carpet fiber or DNA can lead to a "case closed" finale. In real life, forensic science isn't nearly as infallible as it appears on television, and that is something that has troubled many at the National Academy of Sciences. In a report released this Wednesday, the National Academy of Sciences research team found that in 2005 there was a backlog of 359,000 requests for forensic analysis and that 80 percent of all crime laboratories are understaffed. The report went on to call into question the scientific merit of practically every commonly used forensic method of analysis, including the analysis of ballistics, arson, hair, and fingerprints. The team of scholars who wrote the report also recommended that the United States should standardize forensic tests and assume responsibility for the certification of forensic experts. These findings have garnered attention from the general public, the law enforcement community, and elected officials such as Senator Patrick Leahy (D) of Vermont. In a recent interview with the New York Times, Leahy commented, "I am troubled by the report's general finding that far too many forensic disciplines lack the standards necessary to ensure their scientific reliability in court." [KMG]

The first link will take users to a New York Times article from this Wednesday, which talks a bit about this recent report. The second link leads to an audio piece from National Public Radio about the report and how it might transform forensic science. Moving on, the third link leads to a very fine set of investigative articles on forensic science from the Chicago Tribune. The fourth link will whisk users away to the full-text of the Academies' recent report on the state of forensic science. The fifth link leads to the homepage of Forensic Science magazine. Here, visitors can learn more about the field and read articles from current and past editions of the publication. The sixth link leads to a set of resources on DNA forensic analysis offered by the Human Genome Project. Finally, the last link leads to the homepage of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Forensics Laboratory, which is "the only lab in the world dedicated to crimes against wildlife." [KMG]

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