The Scout Report -- Volume 15, Number 39

October 2, 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


Nanotechnology continues to be a field of inquiry that is growing quickly, and this new online peer reviewed journal is a most welcome addition. The journal is published monthly as a collaborative venture between RSC Publishing and the National Center for Nanoscience and Technology (NCNST) in Beijing, China. Some of the topics covered in the journal include nanoelectronics, molecular nanoscience, and nanomedicine. The first issues was released in September 2009, and visitors can read through pieces like "How safe are carbon nanotubes?" and "Mechanised nanoparticles for drug delivery". On the journal's site, visitors can browse through the archive, sign up for their RSS feed, and also read over the author guidelines. Finally they can also use some of their online "Tools" to send along a link to the journal to a friend or colleague. [KMG]

To find this resource and more high-quality online resources in math and science visit Scout's sister site - AMSER, the Applied Math and Science Educational Repository at

History & Policy

It's an old saw that those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it, but the History & Policy group takes this maxim very seriously. The group represents a collaboration between the University of Cambridge, The Institute of Historical Research, and The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. The purpose of the group is to "demonstrate the relevance of history to contemporary policymaking" and to increase the influence of historical research over current policy. Currently, their core output happens to be their papers, which are available from their homepage. Visitors can click on the "H&P papers" area to read through the latest papers, and they can also browse around via subject heading. Some of the recent titles include "North Korea and the nuclear threat", "Why history matters-and why medieval history also matters", and "China, globalization and the west: A British debate, 1890-1914". Additionally, visitors can sign up to join their email list and learn more about their network of historians. [KMG]

Governing Sourcebook

As its name suggests, the Governing State & Local Sourcebook provides information about the nature of state and municipal government. This online sourcebook contains information in ten categories, including data on revenue, spending, employment, technology trends, health insurance coverage, and other relevant matters. On the site, users can use the "Data By Region" series of drop-down menus to get a data profile for different regions, states, and cities. On the right side of the homepage, visitors can look over the "Spotlight News" area to read guest columns on governmental affairs. Further down the page, visitors can use the "Data by Topic" to pick out certain variables (like education or finance) and see it compared across regions. Overall, this is an important website for anyone with an interest in urban affairs, public policy, or demographic trends. [KMG]

The Torture Archive [pdf]

83,000 digitized pages of items related to torture might not be everyone's cup of tea, but this invaluable resource created by The National Security Archive at The George Washington University is a real gem and an important research tool. Released in August 2009, The Torture Archive contains primary source documents related to the "detention and interrogation of individuals by the United States, in connection with the conduct of hostilities in Iraq and Afghanistan." The project started in 2006 with support from the Open Society Institute, and this archive brings together many documents which are currently available in different places on the Internet. On the site, visitors can view an interactive timeline of related events and search the entire database of documents by title, date, organization, or keywords. Additionally, some parties will want to watch the documentary film "Torturing Democracy", which is available here as well. [KMG]

National Science Foundation: Current

Current, is a newsletter published monthly by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the scope of each newsletter is to highlight the research and education that is supported by NSF. One of the goals of NSF is "to promote the progress of science and to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare of the nation." Current provides a good view of the breadth of the NSF's funding activities. For example, a recent newsletter offers reports on sun spot models, exoplanets, the Nanoscience Center, supernovae, and robots in the Senate. The NSF in the News section highlights "newsworthy" research that was funded in whole or in part by the NSF. Each issue can be viewed or downloaded, and an online archive that dates back to 2005 is available on the site. Finally, visitors can also sign up to receive the newsletter by email. [KMG]

To find this resource and more high-quality online resources in math and science visit Scout's sister site - AMSER, the Applied Math and Science Educational Repository at

African Americans and the End of Slavery in Massachusetts [Flash Player]

The Massachusetts Historical Society created a website that chronicles the lives of free and enslaved African Americans in Massachusetts from the "late seventeenth century through the abolition of slavery under the Massachusetts Constitution in the 1780s." On the right hand side of any page is the menu of the categories into which the online collection is divided. In addition to such topics as "The Domestic Sale of Slaves", "Revolutionary Participation", and "The Lives of African Americans in MA After the End of Slavery", there is a "Bibliography", a "List of All Featured Documents and Objects", as well as a "Search Tool" that allows for keyword searching. Each topic contains several paragraphs of introduction to the materials, to help visitors understand the context of the materials. The "List of All Featured Documents and Objects" divides the collection up into "Artifacts and Paintings", "Printed Items", "Printed Forms Completed in Manuscript" and "Manuscripts". [KMG]

The Mathematical Association of America: Podcast Center [iTunes]

The Mathematical Association of America (MAA) has done an excellent service by placing this collection of podcasts online. This diverse set of podcasts consists of talks and presentations given at MAA-sponsored events, and visitors are welcome to use them in the classroom or for their own personal edification. The podcasts here extend back to the spring of 2007, and the presentations include "Why Do Golf Balls Have Dimples?" and "The Joy of Solving Equations". The speakers include experts from Brandeis University, the University of Montreal, and Macalester College. It's also worth noting that for many of the lectures, an accompanying article is available for consultation. [KMG]

To find this resource and more high-quality online resources in math and science visit Scout's sister site - AMSER, the Applied Math and Science Educational Repository at

General Interest

University of Washington Digital Collections: Menus Collection

If you ever wondered what entrees were served onboard the SS Alaska on July 26, 1938, you need wonder no more. This delightful and hunger-inducing collection of menus was created by the staff at the University of Washington Libraries Digital Collection project, and it contains over 650 menus from the Puget Sound area, including offerings from such venerable institutions as the Space Needle Restaurant and Ivar's Acres of Clams. Visitors should start things off by watching the short video they have created which offers a quick tour through some menu highlights. After that, browse through the collection by subject, or click one of the thematic collections, such as "Hotel Menus" and "Fifties Menus". Still wondering about those entrees on the good ship SS Alaska? They included Smothered Belgian Hare Southern Style and Coconut Fritters with Custard Sauce. [KMG]

Blueprint America [Flash Player]

What's the situation with America's ports? How are the freeways in Alabama doing? Is there a long-term solution to the problems with freight train "logjams" in Chicago? All these questions are answered, courtesy of PBS's program, "Blueprint America". The program is sponsored by The Rockefeller Foundation, and many PBS shows contribute programming to this series, including NOW, The News Hour with Jim Lehrer, and American Public Media. First-time visitors can browse through the latest offerings by geography, topic, or program. After viewing a program or two, they may wish to add their own comments via the "tags" option. Recent programs have included a report on "zombie highways" in Alabama, federal transportation law, and urban gridlock. Also, users may wish to sign up for the "Infrastructure News Feed" and take a look at their blogroll. [KMG]

Brown Daily Herald Digital Archive

Since 1891, the Brown Daily Herald has chronicled "political protest, athletic wins and losses, curricular changes, and students' initiative." Recently, Brown University's Center for Digital Initiatives and the Herald began working together to create this digital archive of the paper. On the site, visitors can learn more about the digitization project, sign up to be part of their LinkedIn group, and also take a look at their online store. Using the archive is quite simple, and visitors are encouraged to view specific issues by year or month, and they can also use a search engine to look for news coverage of particular interest. One rather compelling feature of the site is that returned search results include the page or story in question, along with thumbnails of the other pages in the issues on the bottom of the screen. [KMG]

University of Wisconsin Digital Collections: Marinette County Local History

Located on the peaceful shores of Green Bay, Marinette County is tucked away in the reaches of northeast Wisconsin. It has been an outdoors destination for well over a century, and the area's history is celebrated and documented in this University of Wisconsin digital collection. The collection was created in collaboration with the Marinette County Library System, and it contains high school yearbooks, a pocket map of the county from 1920, and a standard atlas from 1912. To get a flavor of the community's past, visitors should peruse the pages of the 1924 yearbook, titled "Memories". As with the other collections from the University of Wisconsin, all of the items can be searched and there's a digital zoom feature that makes looking into the landscape of Marinette County's byways and highways a snap. [KMG]

Art Forum

The website for Art Forum magazine offers a wide range of features, including a Chinese language version, and a host of interactive extras and reports from the art world. The interactive feature "Artguide", which can be accessed via a tab near the top of the page, or by clicking on the box with a world map made of colorful continents, provides a list of "Art Fairs Everywhere", "Special Events", and hotels and restaurants, under "Eat & Sleep". Looking for art exhibits in a particular country? Visitors can click on one of the colorful continents, or choose a "region" or a "country/city" from the drop down boxes underneath the colorful map. Clicking on "Calendar" lets visitors browse by date. Visitors interested in the picks of art critics will find "Picks" helpful, which can be linked to via a tab near the top of any page. Currently there are almost two dozen cities in which work has been chosen, and some cities have more than one exhibit. [KMG]

Make History: National September 11 Memorial & Museum

This moving site created by the National September 11th Memorial and Museum allows visitors to explore, honor, and learn about those who survived the events of 9/11, as well as those who died from the attack on that day or beyond. Visitors can roll their mouse over the thumbnails on the Make History homepage to see what each picture is about. The pictures will be categorized as a Feature Story, Location Search, or Topic Search. Click on the picture to be taken to a slideshow, video or both. There is a GoogleMaps streetview photo of locations near the fallen towers, shown as a background to the slideshow. Scrolling over the bullet points "Featured Stories", "Location Searches", or "Topic Searches", located above the thumbnails, allows visitors to see all the options available for each category. The small New York City map below the thumbnails allows for location searches. Visitors should click on an orange dot to choose a location, and then click to see the corresponding video or slideshow. [KMG]

Irish Architecture Foundation [iTunes]

The Irish Architecture Foundation's website is very inviting with its stylish grey and green-schemed color scheme. The Foundation has multiple goals: encouraging people to value architecture and "champion[ing] the power of architecture and urban design," just to name a few. Visitors will find this website filled with opportunities to learn about, discuss, and debate the role of architecture, at lectures, workshops and events. The "Education" link under the Activity heading at the top of the page contains lesson plans for teachers, lecture series' for adults, programs for children, and details on their Summer School. The "Exhibition" link, also under the Activity heading, has a number of announcements for design competitions, such as one for a public civic space for Dublin. There are also calls for papers, which include one on the politics of architectural destruction and the nature of sculpture is in the 21st century. [KMG]

SFMOMA: Open Space

There are thousands of museums in the United States and many provide an interesting and useful blog on their website, including Open Space, from the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA). This blog is notable because it invites participation from the local San Francisco arts community. The staff at Open Space is using blogging because of its "somewhat rowdy virtual halls and environments" where it's possible to "connect what happens inside the museum to the life and vitality of the city and the art-loving public outside and around SFMOMA." Open Space is named after a Bay Area poetry magazine that appeared in 1965, which published only local writers' and artists' work exactly as submitted, without censorship. Columnists change periodically on the blog and current columnists include art journalist and web-media producer Joseph del Pesco; visual artist Duane Deterville; poet Cedar Sigo; artist Stephanie Syjuco; and author Michelle Tea. [DS]

Network Tools

VLC Media Player 1.0.2

VLC Media Player just came out of its beta release, and users looking for an open source media player will want to give the program a try. Visitors can use the program to play just about any media file, and they can use the frame-by-frame advancement feature or the live-recording feature as they see fit. The player is fairly simple to use, and it works with a wide range of video and audio formats. This version is compatible with computers running Mac OS 10.5 and newer. [KMG]

Feed Demon 3.0

So you want to stay up to date with news from the Boston Globe and the New Orleans Times-Picayune and 75 other news outlets as well? Feed Demon 3.0 can make it happen. This recently released edition of the popular RSS news aggregator syncs effectively with Google Reader, and it makes it easy to update your subscriptions and share items with others. Visitors should also note the application's compatibility with Twitter feed reading and tagging features. This version is compatible with computers running Windows 95 and newer. [KMG]

In The News

Some policy groups believe that using mobile phones as an economic development tool may be a viable idea

A special report on telecoms in emerging markets: Mobile marvels

Communication and Human Development: The Freedom Connection [Quick Time]

Mobile Phones for Microfinance [pdf]

Developing Telecoms: Development Agenda [pdf]

Microcredit from Grameen Bank in Bangladesh: Phone Ladies

The Role of NSF's Support of Engineering in Enabling Technological Innovation: Chapter 4: The Cellular Telephone

When cell phones were first introduced on the mass market, they were considered a luxury item. At first, it was captains of industry and their ilk that responded to the call of constant communication, and later it was concerned parents, hip teenagers, and just about everyone else. In recent years, a number of policy experts have expressed optimism about the role that mobile phones can play in the developing world. This week, The Economist released a special report on mobile phones in emerging markets, and other media outlets, including the New York Times popular "Freakanomics" weblog, have commented on this work. One of the first practical uses of mobile phones as an economic development tool emerged in places like Uganda and Bangladesh. Five years ago, a number of women were set up as "village phone" operators. Essentially, they were selling phone calls to other persons in their village. In some cases, ancillary businesses started up around these tiny call centers. Today, the hope is that farmers can use the phones to get updates on crop conditions and relevant weather matters, and others can use the phones to transfer monies to needy relatives, and so on. [KMG]

The first link will take readers to the series of special reports on mobile phones from this past week's Economist. Here they will also find an interview with Tom Standage (who composed the reports), along with a videographic illustrating the benefits of mobile phones in the developing world. The second link leads to a video of a panel discussion from the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University. The panel members include Amartya Sen, Michael Spence, Yochai Benkler, and Clotilde Fonseca. In their discussion they touch on the "explosion of mobile phone use in the developing world", among other topics. The third link will take users to a paper written by Gautam Ivatury and Mark Pickens of the Consulting Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP) on the ways in which mobile phones can be used for financial services and microfinance. Moving along, the fourth link leads to the Developing Telecoms' page on the "Development Agenda". Here visitors can read news items related to this subject, and also look through their white papers. The fifth link leads to a video clip about the "phone ladies" in Bangladesh, courtesy of the International Telecommunications Union. Finally, the last link leads to a fascinating report on the history of the development of the cellular telephone from the Center for Science, Technology, and Economic Development. [KMG]

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