The Scout Report -- Volume 15, Number 31

August 7, 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

Chemistry: A Molecular Approach

If you're away from the laboratory and you'd like to study a bit of chemistry, this fine site is a nice option. Created to complement a recent chemistry textbook authored by Nivaldo Tro of Westmont College, the site includes interactive media activities, self-quizzes, and a collection of external links. The materials are linked to the 24 chapters in the textbook, and they include "Gases", "Solutions", and "Electrochemistry". Each of these virtual chapters includes a listing of key concepts, along with slides, a set of useful tools (such as the periodic table), and a short video demonstrating different principles and concepts. Additionally, visitors can use the embedded search engine to look for specific items of interest and so on. [KMG]

OECD Factbook eXplorer

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has partnered with Linkping University to create this rather powerful analytical tool which they call the OECD Factbook eXplorer. First-time visitors can start using the site by going over to the "Dashboard" area on the right-hand side of the page and clicking one of the thematic "stories". These "stories" contain brief introductions to several key issues: labor market policies and labor participation fertility. Visitors can read through these themes to learn about the scatter plot screen, the time-series data, and the interactive map on the far left-hand side of the screen. After that, visitors can use the "Indicators" tab on the top of the homepage to load up one of the data files from the OECD and display it via the interactive map and the scatter plot screen. There's also a "Help" feature that can help users navigate the various options presented on this site. Overall, the eXplorer site will take time getting used to, but it will be most useful to policy analysts and others with an interest in development issues. [KMG]

Forests and Poverty Reduction [pdf]

"Close to 1.6 billion people more than 25% of the worlds population rely on forest resources for their livelihoods and most of them (1.2 billion) use trees on farms to generate food and cash." Despite these figures, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations explains that data on these vital forest resources is "sketchy or not available." On the left hand side of the page visitors will find several interesting links including the FAO website which addresses the topic of forests and poverty reduction, the FAO forestry site which includes recent events and news topics, "Publications", information on "Workshops", and "Forestry and Poverty Reduction Strategies". [KMG]

Chinese in California, 1850-1925

On this website, the Bancroft Library and the Ethnic Studies Library at the University of California Berkeley, along with the California Historical Library, present a collection of the Chinese in California digital archive in a topical format. This approach is meant to help gather the diverse resources available in the archive in a more manageable manner. The collection is comprised of books, pamphlets, prints, photographs, manuscripts, and sheet music. The topics into which they are divided include "Chinese and Westward Expansion", "Chinese Communities outside of San Francisco", "Sentiments Concerning the Chinese", and "Anti-Chinese Movement and Exclusion". Once visitors have chosen a topic, they should click on the link in the middle of the homepage to be taken to a short explanation about the topic. Links to other websites with related or more in depth information are also included. For instance, the entry for the "Oroville Chinese Temple" gives a link to the Temple's website. [KMG]

Saint Anselm Journal [pdf]

A Benedictine monk, and later the Archbishop of Canterbury, Saint Anselm was revered for his intellect and writings on the nature of faith and of God. With the principles of Saint Anselm to guide them, Saint Anselm College publishes the Saint Anselm Journal, a "refereed e-journal of articles, discussion papers, and book reviews that examine the life, thought, teachings, and spirituality of Saint well as...programs sponsored by the Institute for Saint Anselm Studies." The website of the twice yearly e-journal gives free access to the "Current Issue" of the Journal, as well as to the archived issues. The articles are available here, and an abstract of each article is available as well. Some of the topics from past journals include "Anselm on Free Will and the (Possibly Fortunate) Fall", "Anselm on Eternity as the Fifth Dimension", and "Music in the Time of Saint Anselm". [KMG]

Pew Global Attitudes Project Key Indicators Database [Flash Player]

The Pew Global Attitudes Project has conducted a myriad of research projects over the past decade. With their team of researchers, they have asked people around the world about their opinion of China, their confidence in the president of the United States, and other such matters. Recently, the Project group created this interactive database which allows users to explore public opinion trends in 55 countries on these, and many other, topics. On the homepage, visitors are presented with an interactive map of the world, and they can click away to their heart's delight to locate the results of the public opinion polls. The results can be displayed in map, table, or chart formats, and visitors can also create their own custom analysis between countries. Also, visitors are welcome to use the "Questions by Topic" tab to explore different themes and they can also click on the "About the Database" area to learn more about the countries surveyed and find out about the sample sizes by years. [KMG]

Oral History Interviews at the Niels Bohr Library & Archives

Housed at the American Institute of Physics, the Niels Bohr Library & Archives is a very useful place for historians of science and others with an interest in the lives and personalities of modern scientists. Here, visitors will find their rather unique collection of oral history interviews. They happen to have more than a thousand, and this site contains transcriptions of several hundred of these interviews, along with a selection of audio clips. The subjects covered in these interviews are rather diverse, and they include conversations about laser science, science education, solid state physics, and science institutions. Visitors can click on to the voice clips to hear such notable personages as Felix Bock, H.R. Crane, and Werner Heisenberg talk about their work. Moving on, visitors can click on the "Read Oral History Transcripts Online" section to browse an alphabetical list of scientists. Finally, visitors can click on the feedback form to ask questions of staff members at the Library. [KMG]

Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology: Delphi Collections Browser [Flash Player]

You may have heard of the Oracle at Delphi, but have you seen the Delphi browser at the Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology? It's quite a find, and the interactive browser allows interested parties to explore Mexican masks, textiles, ancient musical instruments, and many other objects from the museum's holdings. With the Delphi system, users can search through the collections, and also create their own sets of objects, complete with individual annotations. Delphi was created as part of a collaboration between students at the School of Information at the University of California and staff members at the Hearst Museum of Anthropology. On the homepage, visitors can look over the "Featured Objects" area and then move on over to the "Featured Sets" section, which includes thematic groupings of objects created by staff members and online visitors. One can see how this site could be used by educators in a number of subjects, including anthropology, history, or museum studies. [KMG]

General Interest

We Choose The Moon [Flash Player]

It's a few hours before the launch of Apollo 11, and there's quite a bit of work still to be done. The buzz of the crowds nearby waiting for take-off can be a bit distracting, and fortunately you have a crack team onboard, including Neal Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins. The excitement and promise of that famous mission can be relived via this extraordinary site created by AOL and the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library. Visitors can make their way through the eleven stages of the mission, complete with audio transmissions from the flight, image galleries, additional video clips, and some tremendous visualizations of the craft in flight. Using the "Mission Tracker" feature, visitors can move through the stages as they see fit, and they can also change the size of the display and toggle the sound on and off. In the lower-left hand corner, visitors can view information about the distance from earth, spacecraft weight, and the velocity of the spacecraft. Persons interested in space missions and Apollo 11 in particular will be entranced by this site, and even those who aren't will be impressed by this site's overall appearance and design. [KMG]

The Art of Penguin Science Fiction

Over the years, Penguin Books has acquired quite a reputation for their distinctive book covers and graphic design. This rather unique site explores the history and cover art of science fiction published by Penguin Books from 1935 to 1977. The site was created by James Pardey, and it starts off with an introductory essay that answers the questions: "Why Penguin, and why science fiction?" After reading this short piece, visitors should make their way through the cover collection, which starts off with their iconic orange and white covers in the 1930s. Of course, over the decades the series begins to introduce a series of increasingly surrealistic artistic endeavors that reflect broader changes in the art world. Throughout the site, Pardey provides commentary on each cover, along with information about each edition and its original publication date. First-time visitors might want to start by looking at the covers of "The Death of Grass" by John Christopher and "The Man in the High Castle" by Philip K. Dick. [KMG]

The Redistricting Game [Flash Player]

What exactly is redistricting? It is rather important in terms of American politics, and in most states state legislators get to draw the lines that create different political districts. This interactive game from the University of Southern California's Annenberg Center allows players "to experience the realities of one of the most important (yet least understood) aspects of our political system." After a lively introduction, visitors can learn about potential abuses within the system and they will also learn about reform initiatives that have been proposed. In the "Resources" area, visitors can learn about their own representative in the U.S. House of Representatives, take a look at their FAQ section, and learn a bit more via the glossary. If visitors enjoy the game, they can use the "Take Action" option to tell friends and others about the site. [KMG]

Sanborn Maps for Missouri;c=umcscsanic

From Ash Grove to St. Louis, this fine digital collection of Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps from the University of Missouri covers the Show-Me State rather nicely. These maps were used by the fire insurance companies to assess the risk of insuring a particular property, and as such, they are excellent repositories of data for urban historians, planners, architects, and others. The maps show the location of buildings, their materials, and the location of water mains, fire alarms, and the size of various structures. The digitization of these maps was supported by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, and visitors can search the entire collection of maps, or just browse around until they find something that interests them. [KMG]

Farmers, Warriors, Builders: The Hidden Life of Ants [Quick Time]

The website of the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History has a highly informative and just plain delightful interactive exhibit on ants. The exhibit explains how, much like humans, "ants achieve domination by being social creatures". Dividing the ants' lives into "food", "warriors", "shelter" and "communication", the exhibit offers an array of photos in its photo gallery to illustrate the variety of ant life and behavior on earth. Clicking on the thumbnails will enlarge the photos and reveal a brief description of the photo. More than half a dozen videos of ants taken throughout the world can be found under the "Ant Videos" link on the left side of the page. Visitors interested in learning more about myrmecology (ant science) would be remiss if they didn't visit the "Ant Web Links" section of the website, which can also be found on the left side of the page. [KMG]

Big Streets in a Little City: Downtown Street Scenes in Kiel, 1860-1980

A town of approximately 3,500 people on the Sheboygan River in Wisconsin, Kiel has had its history captured exceedingly well by a fellow townsman who collected over 110 notebooks of historical documents about Kiel and its people. These notebooks have been recently donated to the Kiel public library. The 120 years of images and documents give a unique view of how the small city weathered two world wars and political, social, and economic change. The University of Wisconsin Digital Collections website features 630 photos of thousands in the collection that depict "commerce, recreation, cultural events, and other day-to-day activities of the men, women, and children who lived, worked, and played in the same neighborhoods that continue to thrive, albeit in different ways, in the 21st Century." Visitors can view the images by the following subjects: "People & Portraits", "Street Scenes", "Leisure & Special Events", "Schools & Community Services", "Neighborhoods" and "Business & Industry." [KMG]

Authors: The Portrait Photograph File of the Henry W. and Albert A. Berg Collection of English and American Literature

The New York Public Library's online collection of prints and photographs from the Berg Collection of English and American Literature is comprised of portraits of 120 authors from the 1860s to the 1920s. The Bergs originally obtained the photos when acquiring books and manuscripts, but eventually bought or otherwise acquired other author portraits. Visitors can put a face to a name of those authors whose countenances are less familiar than their works, such as Louisa May Alcott, Charles Dickens, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Walt Whitman. Several search options exist to view the collection. "See all images," near the top of the homepage, has thumbnails but isn't arranged alphabetically. "Collection contents" gives the list of authors in alphabetical order. Visitors can search the collection by keyword, and can also click on "Related Subjects" to get more information on author portraits from the New York Public Library collections. Also, Walt Whitman fans can view a portion of Berg's large donation to the New York Public Library of Walt Whitman items, including books, pamphlets, periodicals, and portraits. [KMG]

Target Practice: Painting Under Attack, 1949-78 [Flash Player]

This exhibition from the Seattle Art Museum explores artists' urge to "shoot, rip, tear, burn, erase, nail, unzip and deconstruct painting in order to usher in a new way of thinking." An animated feature at the site showcases works, curator's commentary, and quotes from five artists: Jasper Johns, Niki De Saint-Phalle, Ushio Shinohara, Lucio Fontana, and Yoko Ono. Ono's piece, Painting to Hammer a Nail, 1961/2009 consists of a wooden panel with a hammer chained to it near a container of small nails. Visitors are invited to hammer a nail into the piece, often attaching small objects, illustrating Yoko's quote, "Everybody's an artist. Everybody's God. It's just that they're inhibited." There is also a 5-minute video of Richard Jackson working on a wall painting for the exhibition, pouring paint onto canvases, smearing them against the wall, and nailing several of the canvases to the wall, backwards, to become part of the painting. [DS]

Network Tools

HardCopy Pro 3.0.11

HardCopyPro is a screen-capture tool, but it has some nice bells and whistles that make it worth a closer look. Visitors can use the tabbed dialog box interface to pick images or even capture images at set time intervals. Also, users can preset the program to capture a certain rectangle, window, full screen, or even the window located under the mouse cursor. This version is free for 30 days, and it is compatible with computers running Windows 95 and newer. [KMG]

Omeka 1.0

If you're looking to start your own online exhibit, you'll want to give Omeka 1.0 a test run. This web-based publishing platform was created by staff members at the Center for History and New Media at George Mason University, and it allows users "to focus on content and interpretation rather than programming". First-time users may wish to look at some of the online exhibits that have been created so far with Omeka, and then dive right in. The site also has complete documentation, along with discussion forums and an RSS feed. This version of Omeka is compatible with computers running Linux. [KMG]

In The News

Oysters in the Chesapeake Bay experience a bit of a renaissance

Oysters Are on the Rebound in the Chesapeake Bay [Free registration may be required]

Oysters on the Comeback in Chesapeake Bay, Thanks to Elevated Homes

Inmates make oyster cages to boost Bay

Plucked from the depths

Maryland Sea Grant: The Living Chesapeake: Oysters [pdf]

The Oyster Guide

In the 19th and early 20th centuries, oystermen combed the waters around New York, Philadelphia, and other major cities to obtain a wide range of oysters for consumption by the dozen. By the middle of the 20th century, the waters around many Eastern seaboard cities were terribly polluted, and eating anything that spent time in such waters was a risky proposition. The New York Times had some good news to report on the oyster front this week when they noted that experimental reefs created along the Virginia shore five years ago are starting to help replenish the native oyster stocks in that area. The reefs were created by the United States Army Corps of Engineers by dumping thousands of pounds of oyster shells around the area. Oysters are a type of keystone species in and around the Chesapeake Bay, as they help filter the water and also create fish habitats. These are early days for the restoration effort, a fact not lost on Jack Travelstead, chief of the fisheries management division of the Virginia Marine Resources Commission, who commented that the "looming question is whether what we're seeing is just a short-term effect of long-term restoration." [KMG]

The first link will take visitors to an article from this Tuesday's New York Times on the oysters of Chesapeake Bay, complete with a video of these oyster reefs and a podcast. The second link leads visitors to a recent post from Discover Magazine's "80 Beats" weblog which contains additional relevant news coverage and links to other oyster stories. Moving on, the third link leads to a news article from the Hagerstown Herald-Mail that profiles local inmates who are making oyster cages which will help restore Chesapeake Bay. The fourth link leads to a post from the Economist's "Green.view" blog. This post talks about the more optimistic findings of Boris Worm, a marine biologist who has been studying existing fish stocks around the world. The fifth link will whisk users away to the Maryland Sea Grant's special website about the oysters of the Chesapeake Bay, complete with information on other native species, like Maryland blue crabs, algae, and different finfish. The final link will take users to the rather handy Oyster Guide, created by author and oyster expert Rowan Jacobsen. Here visitors can learn about various oyster regions and appellations from across North America. [KMG]

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