The Scout Report -- Volume 15, Number 9

March 6, 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

George Palmer Putnam Collection of Amelia Earhart Papers

Purdue University contains the largest collection of Amelia Earhart's ephemera, memorabilia, and artifacts, which is in no small part related to Earhart's time spent as a lecturer at the university. Although the entire collection is not available online, more than 3,500 maps, photos, and other documents are, including personal documents, such as her prenuptial agreement, personal correspondence, and marriage license. Visitors can familiarize themselves with Earhart's 40-year life, by clicking on the "Timeline" link on the left side of the page. To view photos of her many medals, visitors should go to the "Medals" link on the left side of the page. Visitors shouldn't miss looking at the interactive map of her last journey, by clicking on the "Map" link on the left side of the page. Using their mouse, visitors can click on the cities Earhart stopped in, read a brief description of the flight, and view photographs and documents related to that stop. Clicking on "Next City" or "Previous City" will take visitors to Earhart's other stops, without going back to the map. Finally, the "Other Sites" link on the left side of the page offers links to dozens of other relevant sites that deal with Amelia Earhart. [KMG]

Natural Resources Conservation Service: Backyard Conservation [pdf]

The Natural Resources Conservation Service, a division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, has a feature on their website on backyard conservation. Conservation practices used on agricultural land throughout the country have been adapted for the smaller scale of backyards. Not only can visitors download and print out a 28-page booklet in English or Spanish, but they can also download and print out eight tip sheets on backyard conversation. Information on how to order the free above-mentioned material, through the mail, is also provided. Using the link in the middle of the page, "See More Tips and Topics on Backyard Conservation", visitors can read over 30 archived tips and topics, including "Invite a Toad to Dinner", "Selecting the Right Tree", and "Dream Yard". For teachers, the link "Backyard Conservation Lesson Plans" in the middle of the page provides a variety of lesson plans. Some of the lessons included are "Team Flight", which is about birds; "Growing Native", which is about native plant communities; and "Backyard Conservation and Local Laws", which is about how community laws may help or hinder backyard conservation efforts. A mock city council hearing is the final activity of the lesson. [KMG]

American Experience: A Class Apart [Flash Player]

This site allows visitors to view the recently broadcast film, A Class Apart, which is part of PBS's American Experiences series. The film tells the story of a murder in 1950s Texas that brought to light the "Jim Crow-style discrimination against Mexican Americans" that existed especially in Texas, but also throughout the U.S. The issue that a group of Mexican American lawyers took to the Supreme Court was that the accused, a Mexican American, would be tried by an all-Anglo jury, rather than a true jury of his peers. They won, and gained 14th amendment protection for Mexican Americans. To learn more about the historical context of the film, visitors can click on "Introduction" under the "About this Film" heading at the bottom of the homepage. Also under the "About this Film" heading, visitors can click on "Photo Gallery", which has photos of the main people in the case, along with captions that summarize how and why they were involved. Under the "Learn and Explore" heading, visitors can click on "Teacher's Resources" to find some great discussion questions, a classroom activities guide, and suggestions for further reading. [KMG]

The Frederick S. Pardee Center for International Futures [pdf]

International Futures is a computer simulation of global systems for classroom or research use that aids in long-term forecasting and analyzing global trends. The global modeling system shows how subsystems, such as demographics, economics, energy, agricultural, social, and environmental interact in the global system. The model can be used online or via a downloadable version, by clicking on "Use IFs" in the menu on the left side of the page. Also in the menu is "IFs Help", which takes the visitor to the very important help system that is necessary for a model as complicated as this one. Under the "Community" tab, visitors will find that the community is divided up into several categories, including "Users" and "Modelers". At the "Documents" tab visitors can find "Reports" link, which cover IFs Structure, IFs Analysis and Student Papers, and they are all downloadable as pdf files. Also, under the "Documents" tab is a link to "Syllabi", which has a dozen syllabi from universities throughout the U.S. that have used IFs in a course. Visitors interested in submitting their own syllabi are encouraged to do so via e-mail. [KMG]

Pew Research Center: Interactive [Flash Player]

The Pew Research Center is a reliable and trustworthy source of high-quality reports and research materials, and their new Interactive website raises the bar for other like-minded organizations. Taking data from their research results, the good folks behind the Interactive site have crafted tests, maps, data, and quizzes that allow users to manipulate different variables. It could be said that the site makes the data come alive, and visitors can look at maps that visualize the migration flow patterns within the United States, Latino population dispersion, and even map out opinions related to different countries views on the United States. Visitors can also sign up to receive the RSS feed from this site and also chime in with their own opinions and comments. [KMG]

Cornell Modern Indonesia Collection

In the 1950s, a group of scholars in Cornell University's Southeast Asia Program initiated the Cornell Modern Indonesia Project (CMIP). The intent of the program was to make contemporary analyses of Indonesia available to scholars and students. The titles were digitized by the Cornell University Library, and this marvelous collection represents the fruits of their endeavors and captures "the drama of Indonesia's political and social evolution through the twentieth century." Some of the topics covered include the development of Indonesian civil government, their civil insurgencies, and the Japanese Occupation. Visitors can search the collection, or they can also browse through the offerings here, which are arranged by author name and title. Visitors who are finding themselves a bit lost should also feel free to click on the "Help" section for hints on searching through the site and viewing and navigating these documents. [KMG]

U.S. State Department: Video

Recently, the U.S. State Department revamped their website to include more video features, and these additions will be a real boon to members of the general public, journalists, and policy analysts. The videos are divided into four primary categories: "Top Stories", "Secretary of State", "Daily Briefing", and "In Other News". As one might imagine, the "Daily Briefing" contains a short briefing from a State department official on the pressing matters of the day. The "Secretary of the State" section features remarks by the Secretary on various diplomatic matters, missions, and other work. Most people will probably want to visit the "Daily Briefing" video area, as its a good way to get a sense of the current priorities of the Secretary of State's office. Interested parties can also sign up to receive RSS feeds of these various proceedings. [KMG]

Implementing Physical and Virtual Food Reserves to Protect the Poor and Prevent Market Failure [pdf]

The goal of the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) is to seek "sustainable solutions for ending hunger and poverty." Their work is supported by the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research, which is an alliance of 64 governments, private foundations, and international and regional organizations. A substantial part of their work involves performing and disseminating research papers and policy briefs for different stakeholders. This 4-page policy brief was published in February 2009, and was written by Joachim von Braun and Maximo Torero. In the brief, the authors look at ways in which various governments and non-governmental organizations might be able to avoid international food price crises in the future. The report looks at recent food price spikes and the role that speculative capital has played in the past, along with advocating the creation of reserves in order to avoid future crises. [KMG]

General Interest

America by Air [Flash Player]

If you're not in the mood for packing up the car and going to your local airport, why not just take a look at this delightful online exhibition from the National Air and Space Museum? The moment the virtual airport terminal gates open, visitors will be presented with a set of different activities, including a virtual flight across America during different parts of the twentieth century. Visitors can click on the "Fly Across America" to view period documents that depict what the in-flight experience was like from the 1920s to the present. Moving on, the "Explore Exhibition" takes visitors through the different periods of American aviation history, complete with historic photographs, first-hand recollections, and so on. Perhaps the most enjoyable part of the site is the "Activities" section. Here visitors can learn about the responsibilities of a travel agent during the golden age of aviation, take a look at an interactive ticket price meter, and check out the frenetic world of the baggage claim, past and present. [KMG]

MIT OpenCourseWare: Major European Novels [pdf]

MIT's OpenCourseWare initiative has brought education from the banks of the Charles River to all corners of the globe. One of the latest additions to the MIT OpenCourseWare site deals with the importance and nuances of major European novels, which in this case include Don Quixote, Pre Goriot, Madame Bovary, and Anna Karenina. Taught by Professor Alvin Kibel, one of the motivating premises behind the course is that "it will not deal with the actions of persons of immense consequences-kings, princes, high elected officials and the like-but rather with the lives of apparently ordinary people and the everyday details of their social ambitions and desires." It's a glorious idea, and one that is reflected throughout the materials here. On this site, visitors can read the course overview, check out the syllabus, look over the readings (links to online versions are made available here), and take a look at the paper assignments and the discussion questions for each novel. [KMG]

Alaska Yukon Pacific Exposition Centennial

Back in 1962, Seattle played host to a World's Fair, but over fifty years prior to that, the Emerald City hosted the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition. In 1909, on the grounds of the University of Washington campus, the Exposition was held to showcase the various accomplishments of the region, and it was quite a success. A number of organizations are gearing up to celebrate the centennial of the Exposition, and this website brings together archival images, maps, primary documents, and short films related to this important undertaking. First-time visitors can click on the "Digital Collection" area (marked by a photo of a dirigible on the Exposition grounds) to look at over 1200 exposition photographs depicting buildings, entertainment, and some rather exotic attractions. Additionally, visitors can look at a detailed map of the fairgrounds in 1909 and then look over some of the finding aids for the larger collection. Visitors shouldn't miss looking at the "Other A-Y-P" section, as they can learn more about various events and lectures being held to celebrate this centennial. [KMG]

Western New York Legacy

From Fredonia to Rochester and back again, this well-thought out and executed digital library brings together cultural and historical documents from the six westernmost counties of New York. The participating institutions include Amherst Museum, Niagara University, and the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library. Visitors to the site can browse through the collection by contributing institution or collection title, and of course, they can also perform a detailed search across the entire archive. Additionally, users can also use the "my favorites" feature to create a list of the resources they find most compelling. All told, there are over twelve collections on the site and they include student newspapers from the University of Buffalo, 19th century monographs on the history of New York, and a collection of snow crystal slides collected by the scientist Wilson A. Bentley. [KMG]

National Geographic: Blue Whales

As a cameraman leans in to get a shot of a blue whale, this massive creature glides through the water off of Costa Rica. That's the opening photograph that visitors to this interactive article from National Geographic are presented with, and it's a rather amazing image. This interactive article and feature is derived from a March 2009 feature in the print edition of National Geographic magazine, and it features the photography of Flip Nicklin and the writing of Ken Brower. The article offers an in-depth look into the recovery of the blue whale population off the coast of Costa Rica in recent years, and along the way visitors can stop off to take a look at a special photo gallery, take a quiz on these remarkable creatures, and also watch a video the provides the story behind one of Nicklin's photographs. [KMG]

Community Video Education Trust

The mission of the Community Video Education Trust (CVET) in Cape Town, South Africa, is to provide the community with media access and use this access as a way to bring about social change. Additionally, CVET was also created to train community members in video and commercial productions. This website has footage from the late 1980s and early 1990s of anti-apartheid activity. Trade unions, student and political organizations, and the United Democratic Front are all represented in the videos. Visitors should check out the "About Project" link on the left side of the page to see the many organizations involved in creating the website, including Michigan State University's African Studies Center. Each organization's website can be accessed by the links on this page. Visitors can access the search function by clicking on the "Search" link on the left side of the page. Videos can be searched by title or date. To browse for videos, visitors can click on "Browse" on the left side of the page. From there, they can choose from "People", "Organizations", "Featured Videos", "Short Clips" or "Genres". In "Genres", visitors can opt for videos of "Interviews", "Demonstrations", "Speeches", "Funerals", "Meetings", "Celebrations" or "Drama". [KMG]

Botanical and Cultural Images of Eastern Asia, 1907-1927

In the library section of their website, the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University shows off their digitized collection of eastern Asian photographs taken by plant explorers and collectors from the early 20th century. On the homepage visitors can learn the names of the plant explorers by rolling over the photos under the heading "Meet the explorers". Once visitors have chosen an explorer they would like to learn more about, they can click on their photo, to be taken to a brief biography of the explorer. Additionally, visitors can view a gallery of the explorer's images, or search the database for the explorer's images. For visitors interested in viewing the photographs by category of image, they can click on one of the photos under the heading "See What they Saw", to view images of "Magnificent Trees", "Buildings and Bridges", "Daily Life", or "Landscapes". Each one of the categories is further divided into subcategories, which can be seen after clicking on one of the aforementioned images. Some of the subcategories include "Boats" and "Farms" in "Landscapes"; "Food" and "Baskets" in "Daily Life"; and "Pagodas" and "Shrines" in "Buildings and Bridges". [KMG]

Network Tools


If you're having a hard time bringing all of your different media files in line, you may want to try out Evernote. Evernote can be used to move photos from mobile phones to the desktop, manage to-do lists, record audio, and synchronize all of these materials across different platforms and devices. Users can search all of these files at their leisure, and the program can even recognize printed or handwritten text in photos and images. This version is compatible with computers running Windows Vista and XP. Other versions are available for computers running Mac OS X 10.5 or later. [KMG]

Opera 9.64

The Opera browser remains a popular browser for many Mac users, and this latest version includes a few notable additions. Users can use the "Quick Find" feature to perform full text searches from the address field and the history panel. Additionally, the browser features mouse-over previews and advanced bookmarking tools. This version is compatible with computers running Mac OX 10.5 and newer. [KMG]

In The News

Harvard Medical School takes a closer look into its conflict of interest polices

Harvard Medical School in Ethics Quandary [Free registration may be required]

Harvard Medical School To Meet To Address Conflict of Interest Policies

Nonprofit hospitals targeted on leader pay

Med school pares rules on conflicts of interest

AMSA PharmFree [pdf]

Association of American Medical Colleges Research: Financial Conflicts of Interest in Academic Medicine [pdf, iTunes]

In recent years, universities and other institutions have struggled to define conflict of interest agreements and rules that govern the relationships between their employees and various corporations and other organizations. Faculty and staff members at many medical schools have come under close scrutiny, and some have questioned the large consulting fees that certain persons have received from pharmaceutical companies. This week the New York Times reported that a group of medical students at Harvard University called upon the administration to reexamine the school's conflict of interest policy. The group of students has already met with some success as they have secured a requirement that all professors and lecturers disclose their industry ties in class. David Tian, a first year student at Harvard's medical school commented, "Before coming here, I had no idea how much influence companies had on medical education." Harvard is not the only school looking into these matters, as other universities including the University of Minnesota Medical School have also been in the process of reevaluating their conflict of interest policies as of late. [KMG]

The first link will take users to a story on the subject from this Monday's New York Times. The second link leads to a piece from the Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report which offers additional perspectives on the issue, along with some links to several other relevant resources. The third link will whisk users away to a piece from this Wednesday's Boston Globe which reports that Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa will be taking on the task of looking into the salaries of those persons who lead nonprofit hospitals. Moving on, the fourth link leads to a news article from this Tuesday's Minneapolis Star-Tribune on the recent efforts to redraft the conflict of interest rules at the University of Minnesota Medical School. The fifth link will take visitors to the American Medical Students Association (AMSA) PharmFree website. Here visitors can learn about the Association's campaign to promote the "conscientious, explicit and judicious use of the current best evidence in clinical care", among other topics. The final link leads to the American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC) page dedicated to providing information about industry funding of medical education, along with reports on individual financial conflicts of interest. [KMG]

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