The Scout Report -- Volume 15, Number 11

March 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 UN Secretary-General's Database on Violence Against Women

This web-based database was launched in March of 2009, and is the result of a resolution adopted by the UN Secretary-General to eliminate all types of violence against women. A good place for visitors to start searching the extensive database is by clicking on the "About the Database" tab at the top of the homepage. To see the content of the questionnaire that was sent to all UN Member States, visitors can click on the hyperlink "Questionnaire on Violence Against Women" in the second paragraph. By clicking on the "Country Pages" tab at the top of the home page visitors can view a particular country's treatment of violence against women. For visitors interested in reading about the practices that some countries have in place, clicking on the "Good Practices" tab at the top of the homepage will take them there. The good practices are divided up into promising practices in law, prevention, and the provisioning of services. The "Advanced Search" tab at the top of the homepage allows visitors to search using various criteria, including type of measure taken to address violence against women, form of violence, country, and year. [KMG]

U.S. Monetary Policy: An Introduction [pdf]

Understanding the activities and operations of the U.S. Federal Reserve and its monetary policies can be a bit confusing, so it's nice to know that the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco has created this fine resource for the general public. The resource begins by offering a brief overview of U.S. monetary policy, and visitors can read the five sections in their entirety here. These sections address questions like "How is the Federal Reserve structured?" and "What are the tools of U.S. monetary policy?". Additionally, the site includes a glossary of terms that covers everything from "absolute advantage" to "zero-coupon mortgage". The site is rounded out by a list of suggested readings, a search engine, and a place to sign up for the Bank's RSS feed. [KMG]

Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps of Florida

Students of urban history will be happy to learn about the Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps of Florida collection created by the staff members at the Smathers Libraries' Map & Imagery Library at the University of Florida. The Sanborn maps have an interesting history, as they were originally produced in the 1860s in order to help fire insurance agents determine insurance premiums in over 12000 cities and towns across the United States, Canada, and Mexico. These most detailed maps contained information on the size, shape, and construction of buildings, along with information about various pieces of the urban infrastructure, census figures, railroad lines, and property boundaries. This particular collection includes more than 3000 map sheets dating from 1860 to 1923. They cover the area from Pensacola down to Key West, and visitors can search the entire database, click on the "New Items" tab, or get a bit more background information by using the "Map Key". [KMG]

Poynter Online: Reporting, Writing & Editing

The Poynter Institute has created this lovely and thorough resource especially for practicing journalists, and it contains a rather impressive storehouse of practical tips and suggestions. At the top of the homepage, visitors will find the top story of the day, along with links to the most recent articles submitted by various contributors and Institute staff members. Further down the page, visitors can read through the "Related Resources" area, which includes topical articles such as "25 Non-Random Things About Writing Short" and "Putting Voters in the Analyst's Seat". Visitors can email each article to a friend, place a link to the article on their own homepage, or sign up for RSS feeds. Close to the bottom of the page, visitors can meander through the "Latest Poynter Blogs" area, which include topical offerings like "The Biz Blog", "E-Media Tidbits", and "Diversity at Work". [KMG]

Livable Streets

Planners, engineers, and designers have been interested in creating healthy and livable urban environments for decades, and the general public's penchant for such matters has grown exponentially as of late. The Livable Streets Initiative is one such measure designed to assist citizens who might be thinking about how to put these ideas into practice. The Initiative is produced by The Open Planning Project, which is a non-profit technology incubator designed to enhance civic participation. First-time visitors to the site will find the following sections: "Streetsblog", "Streetfilms", "Streetswiki", "Community", and "Education". In the "Streetsblog" section, visitors can read recent posts about designing pedestrian friendly streetscapes and also view short films about different planning projects related to such modifications. Moving on, the "Streetswiki" area is a community-created online encyclopedia for transportation, urban environmental, and public space issues. Visitors can read recently edited articles, sign up to help edit, and also just wander around to pieces on "Sidewalks", "Light Rail", and "Bus Rapid Transit". Finally, visitors should also check out the "Community" area to learn about different local community groups that are working on these issues. [KMG]

Transforming Agricultural Education [pdf]

Academic programs in agriculture have been a staple of many institutions for well over a century. Recently, the National Research Council crafted this thoughtful report which looks at how undergraduate agricultural education might be transformed to attract new students and "keep pace with changing times". The Council created this special site to provide interested parties with the text of the 94-page report released in March 2009, along with extra information, such as background papers and related reports. Visitors who don't want to read the entire report can view a four-page brief and also read through the nine primary recommendations. These recommendations include creating a focus on building strategic partnerships, a focused review of undergraduate programs in agriculture, and broadening the overall student experience. Additionally, visitors can learn about the study committee which was convened to create this report and also sign up for email updates about forthcoming publications. [KMG]

Catalogue of Digitized Medieval Manuscripts

The wide cornucopia of digitized medieval manuscripts is a real boon to historians, art historians, and those with a penchant for such documents. However, it can be taxing to sort through a wide range of sites to narrow in on the documents of primary interest, but that process just got much easier via the Catalogue of Digitized Medieval Manuscripts. The idea for the Catalogue was first mentioned in a talk at the MLA conference by Christopher Baswell in 2005, and it became a possibility as a result of support from the Center for Medieval Renaissance Studies at UCLA. The Catalogue provides interested parties with a centralized database of links to various medieval manuscripts online. Currently, visitors can either perform a detailed search across the database or browse around the collection by location, author, title, language, or repository. The database contains links to over 1000 manuscripts and more are being added on a regular basis. [KMG]

The Beat Review [pdf]

Interest in the work of the so-called "Beat" writers has continued unabated for well over half a century, and The Beat Review publishes a great deal of material on their legacy. Based at the College of Wooster, The Beat Review contains information on new Beat scholarship and other Beat works. The publication is peer-reviewed, and visitors are welcome to submit their own reviews and review suggestions to the editor. The first issue was published in the summer of 2007, and the Review tends to be published three to four times a year. It's easy to get a sense of their work by looking over a sample issue, which typically contains approximately six or seven critical reviews of works on people like Allen Ginsberg, Gary Snyder, and Jack Kerouac. Finally, visitors can also learn about signing up to join the Beat Studies Association if they so desire. [KMG]

General Interest

Civil Air Transport/Air America Collection

The Civil Air Transport (CAT) group was started after World War II in China by General Claire L. Chennault and Whiting Willauer. It was certainly a rather intriguing and adventurous idea, as the CAT began to use surplus aircraft to airlift supplies and food into war-ravaged China. Over the coming decades CAT would fly various missions (clandestine and otherwise) to countries in Southeast Asia. In 1959, CAT was renamed Air America and they continued their work until 1976. This particular collection at the University of Texas at Dallas brings together photographs and other documents that tell the story of the organization. Visitors to the site can view the "Recent Submissions" offerings to look over newer offerings, or they can also search via a list of authors, titles, and subjects. There's a wide range of items here, including photos of Air America hats, training sessions, formal officer photos, and Laos. [KMG]

The Minassian Collection: Persian, Mughal, and Indian Miniature Paintings

The Center for Digital Initiatives at Brown University has created another delightful digital collection in The Minassian Collection of miniature paintings from the estate of Mrs. Adrienne Minassian. The project came out of the work of Alanna Benham, a Brown alumna, who first presented her own work as a searchable database of Persian and Islamic miniatures. First-time visitors will want to read the two essays authored by Benham, "The Production of Miniature Painting" and "An Art Historical Examination of Indo-Persian History". They provide a nice bit of background to these fascinating pieces of art, and afterwards, visitors can browse through the items here by thematic categories such as image content and technique. Additionally, visitors can view a detailed bibliography and learn a bit about the history of the Minassian Collection here as well. [KMG]

Archaeology: Screaming Mummies

Archaeology, the Archaeological Institute of America primary publication, offers some of the magazine's content on their website, including news of events, links to other sites of archaeological interest, writing guidelines for submissions to the publication and online features. Here, visitors can find their online feature "Screaming Mummies" and for visitors who haven't seen a screaming mummy, prepare to be disturbed. Screaming mummies have been found in Egypt and other countries, and this article is teeming with photos, reading suggestions, and online resources that give a well-rounded explanation about why these mummies look as if they have died at a moment of agony. The images on the page can all be zoomed in on, by clicking on the magnifying glass that appears when the mouse rolls over an image. Understanding the anatomy of the jaw will help to understand the occurrence of screaming mummies. Visitors should scroll to the middle of the page, where they will find numerous hyperlinks, such as "The Mandible (Lower Jaw)", "Mouth Closure", and "Human Decomposition After Death" that lead to in-depth explanations. For the truly inquisitive, the box entitled Rigor Mortis for Dummies, also in the middle of the page, offers links to several more online resources. [KMG]

NASA: Exploration in 3D [Flash Player]

NASA's Exploration in 3D website is well executed and is accompanied by music with that classic, creepy, outer space feel. For visitors who prefer silence while looking at images of deep, dark space, there is a mute button near the bottom right side of the homepage. With this website, NASA is allowing the public to see their next major project, which involves creating a transportation system to take astronauts to the moon and then on to Mars. To enable the interested public to watch the progress of their plans for space, NASA will be taking photos of the project and putting them on this website, so they can be downloaded and printed. Once said images are printed, that's where the 3-D pocket viewfinders come in. For visitors interested in getting a viewfinder, click on the link at the bottom of the page that says "Click here to request your own EXN3D Pocket Viewfinder". To view the latest images with your viewfinder that are ready to download and print, visitors can click on "Downloads". Interested parties should check back in the future to see newly added images of the progress of the transportation system. [KMG]

Tales in Sprinkled Gold: Japanese Lacquer for European Collectors

One of the John Paul Getty Museum's online exhibits features Japanese lacquered objects from the Victoria and Albert Museum that were popular among European collectors in the 17th-19th centuries. The highlight of the exhibit is the Mazarin chest, which can be viewed as a slideshow by clicking on "Launch Slideshow", near the top far right hand side of the homepage. Visitors can view the chest from several different angles, use a zoom feature, and pan the images using the arrows below the slideshow images. However, dragging the cursor on the image, instead of using the arrows, allows for more control. Visitors can watch a video entitled "The Making of Japanese Lacquer", by clicking on the link on the far right hand side of the homepage, underneath "Launch Slideshow". For visitors lucky enough to visit the Getty Museum, a multitude of related events can be found under the "Events" tab near the top of the page. Those persons interested in further information on the topic of Asian lacquer can click on the "Publications" tab near the top of the page, which suggests two authoritative books on lacquer. Still more information can be found on the Victoria and Albert Museum website, accessible by the links in the "Learn More" box on the far right hand side of the homepage. [KMG]

In Our Own Backyard: Resisting Nazi Propaganda in Southern California, 1933-1945

This online collection, from the California State University Oviatt Library, provides a look into German propaganda that crossed the Atlantic and took root in Southern California between 1933 and 1945. A straightforward guide to the contents of the website is located on the right hand side of each page of the website. The collection contains almost 200 pieces of propaganda, such as books, pamphlets, flyers, newspapers, letters, and photographs. In addition to the page on "Historical Context", reading the "Introduction" page will familiarize visitors with this aspect of Hitler's effort to dominate the world by "undermining the faith of the American people in their own government, a new group will take over; this will be the German-American group, and we will help them to assume power." Some of the categories shown here include, "Techniques of Propaganda: Disinformation", "Fascists Movements in Southern California", "Resisting the Enemy Within: Community Work", and "Hollywood Under Attack". For each category, an explanation is provided, as well as accompanying images of propaganda. Visitors can click on the image to see a larger version of it, along with its cataloging information. [KMG]

Roll Call

Roll Call is "The Newspaper of Capitol Hill since 1955", that covers the people, process and politics of Capitol Hill. The website has many multimedia features, including videos, an interactive timeline, podcasts, photo galleries, and political cartoons. Some of the sections of the online version of the paper include "News", "Opinion", "Politics", "Vested Interests", "Around the Hill", and "Investigations". To watch videos on various topics, or listen to Roll Call podcasts, visitors should click on "More Video", in the box entitled Roll Call Video, which resides in the middle of the page. The link provides recent videos, Roll Call on C-SPAN, Roll Call TV (CN8), podcasts, and a photo gallery of photos of the day. At the top of the homepage, visitors can find the latest news from Congress and the judiciary under the "Congress Now" tab. For policy intelligence on many issues, the "Briefing Room" tab allows visitors to explore the latest issues, divided into the topics of "Budget and Appropriations", "Defense", "Energy and Environment", "Foreign Policy and Trade", "Health", and "Homeland Security". [KMG]

Victorian Britain: Early photographically illustrated books

This companion web site for an exhibition at the British Library is difficult to browse, but never the less offers a look at some fascinating images from the pages of some of first books to be illustrated with photographs and photographically produced prints, published in England beginning in the mid-nineteenth century. Examples such as Philip Henry Delamotte's photos of the Crystal Palace, an exhibition hall originally built for the first universal fair held in Hyde Park in 1851, and dismantled and reconstructed in Sydenham after the fair closed. Delamotte's photos document not only advances in printing technology, but also architecture and recreation. The former fair building re-opened in 1854 to become a national entertainment center for the British public, at least until it burned down in 1936. Other highlighted curator's choices include pastoral landscapes and waterways as well as scenes of industry, such as J.C. Burrow's photographs of mines and miners, which Burrow photographed using his own flashlight techniques. [DS]

Network Tools

Miro 2.0.3

Created as an open-source and cross-platform application, Miro 2.0.3 allows users to subscribe to and download video podcasts. Visitors can use the program to manage their existing videos, and they can also search for videos via major online video sharing sites, such as Yahoo and Google. Additionally, users can view over 6000 free Internet TV shows and make their way through a host of video podcasts. This version of Miro is compatible with computers running Windows 98 and newer and Macs running OSX 10.3 and newer. [KMG]

Songbird 1.1.1

Appropriately named, the Songbird application allows users to manage their own digital media collection and learn about new types of music via Internet radio stations and also maintain links to various bookmarked sites. The program also features a number of add-ons, such as a "LyricMaster", which displays lyrics interactively and "MediaFlow", which offers a visually-enhanced trip through one's music collection. This version of Songbird is compatible with computers running Windows 2000 and newer and Macs running OSX 10.5 and newer. [KMG]

In The News

Ubiquity of technology in (and outside) the courtroom present substantial challenges to the conduct of jury trials

As Jurors Turn to Web, Mistrials Are Popping Up [Free registration may
be required]

Facebook, Twitter throw US legal system into disarray

Fumo Guilty on All Counts

The Curse of the Information Society

Stanford Technology Law Review

Scientific American: Technology's Toll on Privacy and Security

Technology is never a neutral force in human society, and it would seem that the increasing ubiquity of various web-enabled devices is having widespread ramifications that policy makers and philosophers are just beginning to consider. In the past several weeks, courtrooms in both Florida and Arkansas have been roiled by charges that jurors have used Google to research information about the case on the Internet, and one juror in Arkansas apparently was using the popular social networking and microblogging service Twitter to post updates on a civil trial. These activities fly in the face of most judges' directions to juries, which typically include a directive asking that jurors not seek outside information during the course of a trial. A few commentators and legal scholars have observed that some jurors believe they are doing a beneficial service by seeking out additional information about a case or a defendant, but others contend that this flies in the face of the adversary system that has developed over centuries of jurisprudence. [KMG]

The first link will take users to a news article from this Tuesday's New York Times, which reports on the recent controversy surrounding the unauthorized use of technology by jurors in both Florida and Arkansas. The second link leads to a piece from ABC News in Australia which includes some commentary from Australian law professors about the differences between US and Australian law as regards juries. Moving on, the third link leads to a news article from MSNBC regarding the recent corruption trial of Pennsylvanian politician Vince Fumo. Interestingly enough, while a juror was accused of putting posts regarding the trial on his Facebook page and via Twitter, the juror was allowed to stay on. The fourth link will whisk users away to an editorial on this vexing subject from this Wednesday's Dallas Morning News, which begins with the line, "Sometimes you just have to put your hands up and step away from your Blackberry." The fifth link leads to the very fine Stanford Technology Law Review homepage. Here, visitors can read archived issues of the Review and look around to learn about upcoming events and symposia related to their work. Those persons interested in learning more about how technology is affecting modern society will be delighted to click on to the sixth link. Here they will find reports and commentaries with titles such as "How I Stole Someone's Identity" and "Who's Watching You: The Future of Privacy". It's a fascinating, if at times disturbing, look into such matters. [KMG]

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