The Scout Report -- Volume 15, Number 8

February 27, 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

Enhancing Education

Educators who are interested in incorporating new technologies into their classroom experience often wonder where to start. They may want to start by visiting the Enhancing Education site, which is maintained by staff members at the Columbia Center for New Media Teaching and Learning at Columbia University. The site is organized a bit like a weblog, as there are different posts organized into subjects that include "Noted", "Solutions", and "Primers". The "Noted" postings highlight interesting technologies that may be of interest to educators, and the "Solutions" entries are composed of a quick "how-to" that addresses a broad range of technologies and approaches to classroom learning. Finally, the "Primers" posts cover the basic elements of a compelling new technology or idea, including incorporating a weblog into the class or peer editing. Visitors can also view the top ten tags on the site, or take a look at the most recent posts. [KMG]

Mountain West Digital Library

Formed as part of a consortium between universities, colleges, museums, and historical societies in Utah, Nevada, and Idaho, the Mountain West Digital Library contains dozens of digital collections whose content ranges far beyond that of the geographical area covered by the Mountain West region. On their homepage, visitors can learn about the "Featured Collection" and then browse all of the available collections via a list of partner institutions. All told, there are over 100 collections here, and visitors can search the entire archive for text, images, video, or audio clips. A couple of the collections should not be missed, including "Before Gaming: Las Vegas Centennial", which provides visual documentation of a (relatively) quiet Las Vegas before the emergence of gambling. Additionally, the Mormon publication "The Young Woman's Journal" provides insight into the lives of Mormon women in the early 20th century. [KMG]

Islam in Southeast Asia [Flash Player]

The Asia Society in New York City has struck educational and cultural gold again with their inventive and insightful look into the emergence of Islam in Southeast Asia. On the homepage, visitors are treated to a moving collage of images that feature items from their collection. After watching the images cycle through for a minute, visitors should click on the "Essays" area to get started. Each essay is illuminated by a slideshow, and the topics covered here include the visual arts, religious practices, and geography. Educators will want to click on over to the "Curriculum" area which features lesson plans and activities like "Hajj and Local Indonesian Pilgrimage" and "Women, Education and the Veil in Contemporary Indonesia". The other sections of the site include "Images", "Maps", along with a glossary of relevant terms and an extended bibliography. The site is rounded out by a video of an Indonesian puppet show and a set of interactive maps that track the spread of Islam across Eurasia and maritime trade in Southeast Asia from the 12th to the 15th centuries. [KMG]

Neighborhood Effects on Crime and Youth Violence: The Role of Business Improvement Districts in Los Angeles [pdf]

Business improvement districts (BIDs) are a tool used by concerned members of the business community and politicians to enhance a commercial retail area's economic fortunes. As it turns out, they may also improve the social environment of their neighborhoods as well. Published in 2009, this study commissioned by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was completed by the RAND Corporation. Throughout its 139-pages the study takes a critical look at how these BIDs have the potential "to reduce a youth's risk to neighborhood violence" and generally improve the social environment. The study was based on research performed in Los Angeles and the report itself is divided into six chapters. The study notes that the activities of BIDs can help increase informal social control, reducing visible signs of disorder and blight, and provide enriched employment opportunities. [KMG]

Cornell University Library Historical Math Monographs Collection

The Cornell University Library Historical Math Monographs Collection has a rather interesting history. The collection began when a number of brittle and decaying math monographs were digitally scanned using equipment developed by Cornell and the Xerox Corporation. This collection brings together all of those documents, including a selection of other relevant papers and scholarly works. All told, there are over 1,000 works here, and visitors can use the "Browse" section to look over the offerings by title or author. Additionally, visitors can perform detailed searches across the entire collection. Visitors should also take a look at the "Selected Titles" on the homepage to get a sense of what lies within this rather compelling collection. Finally, there is a "Help" section that provides some hints on making the best use of the site. [KMG]

Healthy People Library Project [pdf]

With funding from the National Institutes of Health and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the Healthy People Library Project was created "to empower libraries to play an active role in increasing the quality and years of healthy life and eliminating health disparities for all Americans." Part of their work includes the electronic book series "The Science Inside". These books are intended to be used by health educators and members of the general public, and they cover topics like diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, and HIV and AIDS. Visitors to the site can click on any book that sounds interesting, and a number of the booklets are also available in Spanish. The site is rounded out by the "Profiles of Healthy Living" section, which offers profiles of people who are making choices that encourage healthy living. [KMG]

Children's Rights: International and National Laws and Practices [pdf]

In the 20th century, the children's rights movement came into full flower as both the League of Nations and later the United Nations declared that children need safeguards and protections separate from those of adults. This authoritative collection created by The Law Library of Congress provides access to the various laws and policies that help protect children in sixteen nations, including Israel, Japan, Mexico, and Russia. For each nation, visitors can read the domestic laws and policies that affect child health and social welfare, education and special needs, child labor and exploitation, and juvenile justice. It's a good idea to start off by reading the introduction by Dr. Rubens Medina before diving into these materials. Dr. Medina offers a nice overview of the development of children's legal rights, and after reading this essay, visitors should click on the "Country Reports" area to learn about the specifics of children's rights and safeguards in different countries around the world. [KMG]

Making the History of 1989 [Real Player, pdf]    

The Center for History and New Media at George Mason University has developed yet another fine educational resource with this site, and it's one that teachers and others will want to tell their friends and colleagues about. The site offers a multimedia approach to telling the stories of the revolutions that swept across Eastern Europe in 1989, along with offering substantive lesson plans and document based questions to be used in the classroom. The materials on the site are contained within five sections, including "Primary Sources", "Scholar Interviews", "Teaching Modules", and "Case Studies". First-time visitors may wish to read the introductory essay here, along with separate sections which briefly discuss the cultural and social milieu in Bulgaria, Hungary, and other countries in the region. The "Primary Sources" section includes a search engine, along with a listing of individual countries and a "Featured Item". Moving on, the "Scholar Interviews" allow users to listen to four different scholars discuss how they teach this subject to their own students, along with what research challenges and changing interpretations of history have informed their own work. [KMG]

General Interest

Digital Wordsworth

Created as part of a unique collaboration between Lancaster University and the Arts & Humanities Research Council, this site brings together manuscript materials for two important texts by William Wordsworth: Prelude and Home at Grasmere. The focus of the project is to explore "the importance of place to the writing of poetry", and it's a novel and interesting way to think about the creative process. The intent of the project is "to open up an understanding of the relationship between actual physical place and imagined, textual space in the context of the poem and the making of the manuscript." First-time visitors should take a look at the "How to Use This Site" area to learn about how they can best navigate the site. Along with containing the text of both works, visitors can look at different maps of the places discussed in these works, learn about Wordsworth's movements around these places when he was writing, and look at historical maps. Overall, this site is well-thought out and it may serve as a model for those looking to explore the relationship between real and imagined places in literature. [KMG]

Creative Metalworking

Working with metals has engaged the talents of humans for thousands of years, and the Creative Metalworking site is great way for those with an interest in such matters to learn more about it. The primary function of the site is "to document the processes used to create cast and fabricated art/design works", and the site is maintained by Robert Moule. Visitor can click on the "Bronzecasting" section to learn about casting processes via different images and short summaries. The materials here are divided into sections that include "materials testing", "restoration", and "patterns". The next section of note is the "Fabrication" area, which contains a primer on metallurgy, including information on the chemical processes involved with this activity. The site is rounded out by a collection of relevant links to other external sources that cover metalworking, metal art galleries, and trade associations. [KMG]

Philadelphia Architects and Buildings

If you're looking for information about the built environment in and around the City of Brotherly Love, you should definitely bookmark this invaluable site. Created as part of a partnership between organizations including The Athenaeum of Philadelphia and the Philadelphia Historical Commission, the project website includes access to a database with architectural and historical information and images for over 35,000 structures in Philadelphia and the surrounding area. Additionally, the site also provides access to biographical sketches of over 2,500 architects and a library of over 25,000 images. Visitors will need to sign up to use these resources, but it's entirely free, and it takes just a couple of minutes to complete the registration. After doing so, visitors will be able to search for buildings, locations, thematic collections, and so on. [KMG]

Forces of Change [Real Player, Flash Player]

This informative website from the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History suggests that "to understand our world, we must understand change." A thoughtful sentiment, and one that explains the site's basic mission quite well. Essentially, the site looks to explore climate change, ecological change, and cultural change. Drawing on a wide range of research, the site looks at how different types of changes are affecting life on earth, and some of the processes covered here include El Nino, volcanic eruptions, and changes in the atmosphere. Visitors can click on sections such as "Arctic" and "Atmosphere" to watch interviews, enjoy interactive features, and read research reports on all of these matters. The site also includes a special "For Educators" area that features everything from printable Arctic bookmarks to tours of prairie ecosystems. [KMG]

Mapping the African American Past

The Mapping the African American Past (MAAP) project, produced by a team of researchers and specialists at Columbia University, offers a marriage of African American history and geography in New York City. The project was funded by JPMorganChase, and it allows users to navigate through sites of importance to the African American community throughout the city's past. New visitors may wish to start by watching the short film, "Introduction to MAAP", and then move on over to the "Place in Focus" feature. Here they can learn about places like Five Points, the Abyssinian Baptist Church, and the home of David Ruggles. They can also use an interactive map to toggle through places associated with certain time periods, such as the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries. Additionally, the site also contains lesson plans that address topics that include African American community and culture and "Building New York". The site is rounded out by a series of podcasts which cover all 52 locations featured on the MAAP website. [KMG]

Frontline: Inside the Meltdown

The economic situation in the United States is on everyone's minds right now, and this provocative and thoughtful look into how it all transpired is offered as part of Frontline's regular programming. As with most Frontline programs, visitors can watch the full program, and then go back to sections like "Interviews", "Timeline", and "Analysis". The "Analysis" section is particularly shrewd, and it contains interviews with key economic players and policy types including Barney Frank, Sheila Blair, and Chris Dodd. Visitors can also view an interactive timeline of events related to the meltdown and even chime in with their own thoughts via the "Join the Discussion" area. [KMG]

New Haven and the problem of change in the American city

This intriguing look into the life of one of America's oldest urban areas begins with a thoughtful insight: "The American city has been seen as problematic at least since the time of Jefferson." New Haven, Connecticut has certainly been seen as problematic throughout the ages, and this site provides a place to learn about its successes and its failures. Created by staff members at the Yale University Library (in consultation with professors and others), the material here is divided into three sections: "Images", "Maps", and "Data". After clicking on the "Images" area visitors can view specific images from New Haven's many neighborhoods. The historic images cover industrial geography, commercial districts, community events, and so on. In the "Maps" area, visitors can make their way amidst maps of the city that date from 1852 to 1995. This section also contains information from Census 2000, and information about clubs and hotels that existed in the city in the early 20th century. Finally, the data area contains census reports and data files from the past 150 years. [KMG]

Vistas: Visual Culture in Spanish America, 1520 - 1820

Created by art historians at Smith College in 2005, the goal of the Vistas project is to promote wider understanding of the visual culture of the Spanish Americas. The project covers a vast region and time period, running geographically from California to Chile, and temporally from the 16th century to the early 19th century. The centerpiece of the site is the gallery, with over 100 images arranged by time period. The 1500s, 1600s, and 1700s are the most populated sections. Images range from a modern photo of Saqsawamn, which is a series of masonry zigzagging walls used as a fortress, palace, and temple from the mid-15th to early 16th century in Cuzco, Peru, to the Chicano Park murals in San Diego, California, begun in 1973. In between there are examples such as a portrait of Simn Bolvar in Lima, 1825, by Jos Gil de Castro, and a Mexican Chippendale Chair, built in the mid- to late-18th century, in the style of the English furniture maker Thomas Chippendale, using mahogany from the forests of Central or South America.

Network Tools

Orbit Downloader 2.8.5

As files get larger and larger, individuals may be on the lookout for a more efficient way to download all sorts of videos, images, and so on. This latest iteration of Orbit Downloader may be just the tonic they require. Perhaps the best feature of this program is its one-button ability to download multiple files. This version is compatible with computers running Windows 2000 and newer. [KMG]

Folder Lock 6.1.5

Those persons concerned with the security of their files, folders, or USB drives should make an inquiry into this handy application. Folder Lock helps users create encrypted storages called "lockers", which they can then use to keep their private files, complete with a password. This particular version is free to try, and visitors can also elect to pay $39.95 at the conclusion of the trial period. Folder Lock 6.1.5 is compatible with computers running Windows 95 and newer. [KMG]

In The News

The Duke of American music makes an appearance on District of Columbia's quarter

Jazz man is first African-American to solo on U.S. circulating coin

Mint produces D.C. quarter

Duke Ellington

Duke Ellington: Perdido

Duke Ellington's Washington

The United States Mint Collector's Club

During his lifetime Edward Kennedy Ellington (better known as Duke) composed a body of musical works which remain standards some thirty-five years after his death in 1974. Along with leading his own band for well over a half a century, Ellington also composed thousands of works, including a series of sacred concerts, and songs that include "Take the 'A' Train" and "Solitude". Ellington always referred to the people and music he loved as "beyond category", and he fits that description as well. This Tuesday, the U.S. Mint honored Ellington with a place on the quarter coin issued to celebrate his birthplace, the District of Columbia. The coin depicts Ellington sitting at a piano surrounded by the words "District of Columbia". Ellington is the first African American to appear by himself on a circulating coin, and the first African American to appear was York, the slave who accompanied Lewis and Clark on their journey westward across the United States. The 2003 Missouri quarter features the three men together in a canoe. [KMG]

The first link will take users to a news piece from CNN International, which provides a bit of background on this new quarter. The second link will whisk users away to a similarly informative article from George Washington University's student newspaper, The Hatchet. Moving on, the third link leads to the official homepage of Duke Ellington. Here, visitors can view a photo gallery, shop for Ellington merchandise, and read about his life. Those persons looking for a taste of the Ellington sound will be delighted to learn that the fourth link leads to a 1964 performance of Perdido by Ellington and his band. The fifth link leads to a site produced by PBS, which complements their program "Duke Ellington's Washington". Here visitors can learn about the cultural and social milieu in D.C. during Ellington's lifetime. Finally, the last link leads to The United States Mint's Collector's Club, where visitors can learn more about numismatics. [KMG]

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