The Scout Report -- Volume 16, Number 22

June 4, 2010

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 State of the News Media 2010

Written and researched by staff members at the Pew Project for Excellence in Journalism, the State of the News Media 2010 report is designed to provide "as much data as possible about all the major sectors of journalism, identify trends across media, mark key findings, and delve deep into each sector and note areas for further inquiry." Released in March 2010, the report includes content analysis of blogs and social media, along with a study of the most prominent community journalism websites in the United States. The report is replete with hyperlinks, audio features, video clips and other bells and whistles. Visitors will find eleven different sections, including "Who Owns the News Media", "Network TV", "Magazines", and "Online". The report is rounded out by a methodology section, information about the authors, and a bibliography. [KMG]

Mind Lab [Flash Player]

How do we perceive the outside world? How is our consciousness connected to the world? These are all important questions, and the JST Virtual Science Center in Japan is intimately concerned with such matters. This media-rich site takes interested parties on a journey to "explore the unconscious functions of the brain with visual illusions and mysterious perceptual phenomena." The site contains four interactive sections, including "Illusion of an Uninterrupted World" and "Visual Interpretation of the Physical World". Each of the sections features a brief narrated overview of the selected topic and then visitors can take part in 16 different "trials". These "trials" allow users to experience "visual phenomena and illusions used for study in psychological experiments." One can easily envision that this site could be used in an introductory college-level psychology course or another related discipline. [KMG]

National Academy of Engineering: The Bridge [pdf]

Published by the National Academy of Engineering (NAE), The Bridge presents "thoughtful opinion and analysis on engineering research, education, and practice; science and technology policy; and the roles of engineering and technology in all aspects of society." The Bridge is published four times a year, and on this site, visitors can read the current issue and browse the archive back to the first issue from the fall of 1996. Recent issues have dealt with the transformation of the electricity grid in the United States, the frontiers of engineering, and K-12 engineering education. Visitors can also sign up for email updates and learn more about the editorial team that works on the journal. The site is rounded out by a selection of links to other relevant documents published by the Academy. [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

Penn State Gerontology Center [pdf]

The Penn State Gerontology Center and its website encompass "many traditional disciplines in the biological, behavioral, and social sciences, as well as numerous professional specialties." On the left side of the menu on the homepage is a link to the "National Study of Daily Experiences" which tracks the daily activities of thousands of middle-aged people, through phone interviews. Many of the daily experiences are stressful, which is of particular interest to those conducting the study. Visitors will find that "Recent Papers and Presentations" and "Research Papers" are two links that further illuminate the study and what it has uncovered about the effects of stress. One research paper of note is from 2007, and it is titled "Genetic and environmental effects on daily life stressors: More evidence for greater variation in later life." Back on the homepage, the "Educational Programs" link provides information to students interested in studying gerontology at Penn. There is an undergraduate program, a graduate minor, programs for nurses, and professional development that aim to train people in this important field that is of more and more importance as the population ages. [KMG]

Parliament of South Africa [pdf]

The Parliament of South Africa website offers many ways to learn about their activities and functions. Those visitors unfamiliar with the establishment of a parliament in South Africa that fairly represents the population of its people can discover more about its history under the "Our Parliament" link at the top of the page. Here visitors will also find a video of the history of the Parliament. Users of the website will also appreciate the different ways to "Participate in Parliament", such as "Forums", "Meetings", and "Petitions". The link "Parliamentary Democracy Offices" is also found here and "is a mechanism that will assist in promoting and entrenching democracy in South Africa...[and] promote a better understanding of the role of Parliament and raise awareness in the public domain." On the far right side of the homepage visitors will find a link to "InSession", Parliament's monthly newsletter. Previous editions of the newsletter can be accessed below the link to the current edition. Also on the far right side of the homepage is a list of calls for written submissions on such topics as the "Black Authorities Act Repeal Bill" and the "Protection of Information Bill". [KMG]


Truthdig was voted the best political blog as part of the 2010 Webby Awards, and the good folks behind the blog like to say they are "drilling beneath the headlines." The blog describes itself as a "progressive journal of news and opinion" that challenges conventional wisdom and provides a reliable source for those readers who want to explore topics in-depth. Truthdig offers multiple ways to get that in-depth coverage. There are "Podcasts", "Q&A" (which are live chats), "A/V Booth" (which has audio interviews, video clips and interactive slideshows), and "Cartoons", sometimes the most searing editorials of all. The "Digs" link on the menu at the top of the homepage features articles that are in multiple parts. There are at least a dozen topics, such as "Education", "Gay Cinema", "China", "Religion" and "Iraq", and each provides a thorough analysis. The article on education "The Questions Education Reformers Aren't Asking" is a well-written and timely five- part article by a faculty member at UCLA. [KMG]

Digital Image Collections: Indiana Historical Society

Bringing together images of African Americans in Indiana, Abraham Lincoln, and many other subjects is an inspired idea, and it's part of the mission of the Indiana Historical Society. Over the past several years, they have been digitizing materials furiously, and currently there are over 38,000 images available on this website. The images are divided into eight topical areas, including "Military History", "Notable Hoosiers", and "African-American Indiana History". The "African-American Indiana History" area is quite fine, and there are images that document the history of the Indianapolis Recorder and Madam C.J. Walker, a self-made businesswoman in the early 20th century. The "Selected Images of Indiana" is also quite laudable, and it also features a subcollection that documents the Hoosier State across the four seasons. Also, visitors are encouraged to use the search engine to look for specific items. [KMG]

Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment [pdf]

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment works to provide the general public and others with high-quality information about topics such as pollution, climate change, and water resources. Visitors to their homepage can look over sections that include "Key Topics", "News and Events", "Pollution Prevention", and "Air". Each of these sections contains materials that address how the Department is working on these pressing issues, and visitors will also want to check out the "Issues to Watch" area for more up-to-the minute details. Here they can learn about environmental cleanup efforts, like the Saginaw Bay Coastal Initiative and the Great Lakes Water Use, Levels and Diversion project. Additionally, visitors can sign up for their Environmental News Flash and their newsletter. [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

Hardship and Hope: Stories of the economic crisis on Tobacco Road [Flash Player]

In 2009, a group of talented photojournalism students from North Carolina fanned out across the landscape "to document the human face of the economic crisis in North Carolina's Triangle region." It's a fascinating project, and given the power of images, it's an excellent way to examine the circumstances of the region. Visitors can click through the photographic essays via the "Featured" section. Each of these profiles looks at a different aspect of the economic struggles faced by area residents, and there are a few extra features, including poems, essays, and interviews. First-time visitors to the site might want to look at "Adopting a Neighborhood" and "My Homeless Children" as they start their journey. Overall, this is a thoughtful project and one that might inspire others to take a closer look at their own communities. [KMG]

Tell Me More

The "Tell Me More" program on National Public Radio promises to bring "the wisdom of renowned thinkers, activists and spiritual leaders" to the curious public. The show is hosted by Michel Martin, and she describes the program as "a gathering place for dialogue about the important issues facing the country." Regular features on the program include "Political Chat", "Faith Matters", and "Wisdom Watch". On the program's homepage, visitors can look over recent interviews and also browse the program archives. The site also has a blog where a number of guest commentators weigh in on issues of the day, including cultural depictions of Muslims in film, African-American culture, and political matters. Visitors are also encouraged to leave their own comments on the stories. [KMG]

UCLA Preserved Silent Animation [Flash Player]

UCLA's film and television archive of animated silent films from the pre-1930s is relatively small, but considering the rarity of any silent films, it is still an impressive collection. Some of the films offered up on this website include "Felix the Cat", the "Inkwell Imps", and "Aesop's Film Fables". Visitors are lucky enough to be able to view online or download 11 animated films from the library's collection. While watching the films, visitors can listen to the preservation commentary, or listened to the music for each film composed by Michael D. Mortilla, who has played music for silent films for the Silent Society. Visitors can learn more about Michael D. Mortilla by reading the "About the Music" link. There are also film notes and an historical overview that visitors can read for each film. Researchers or interested parties will find a 15-page study guide of films and works about silent films available as a PDF. This helpful document is conveniently located at the bottom of the homepage. [KMG]

American RadioWorks: Early Lessons

American RadioWorks, the documentary-making arm of public radio, presents an intriguing story about David Weikart, a school system administrator in the late 1950s who wanted to help poor African-American kids have more success in school. He came up with the novel idea of preschool for these children. The website for this documentary has a lot to offer for any visitors who want to listen to the radio program online, download it, or read a transcript of the program. Visitors who want to delve further into the effects of pre-school on all kids will be delighted with the ebook American Radioworks put together on the history and implications of the study. It is a "treasure trove of information about what makes children succeed in school and about the very nature of intelligence." It can be read online, printed, or downloaded to a mobile reading device. On the right side of the homepage are various other highlights of the story, including a conversation with two preschool teachers who taught the first classes at the preschool. [KMG]

ASIMO [Flash Player]

ASIMO is a robot built by Honda, and on this website visitors can learn about its technical specifications including many photos of ASIMO out in the world. ASIMO stands for Advanced Step in Innovative Mobility (ASIMO), a fact which may be of interest to many. In the "Design Concept" link Honda states "ASIMO was conceived to function in an actual human living environment in the near future. It is easy to operate, has a convenient size and weight and can move freely within the human living environment, all with a people-friendly design." On the right side of the homepage are videos of ASIMO, including one where a robot is conducting the Detroit Symphony and another where there are multiple ASIMOs performing coordinated movements. The intelligence of ASIMO is quite significant, as it can recognize moving objects, posture, gestures, sounds, faces, and can even connect to the Internet. Visitors will find the "ASIMO desktop widget" and the Interactive Control to be quite fun. [KMG]

Moon Zoo

The goal of the Moon Zoo website is "to provide detailed crater counts for as much of the Moon's surface as possible." On the website, interested parties can help out with this effort by examining images of the moon's surface and providing feedback to be used by the team of researchers in charge of the Moon Zoo project. First-time visitors should click on the "How To Take Part" for a tutorial that will help determine which project they might be best suited for. Visitors who wish to take part in the project will need to register on the website, and that process only takes a few minutes. Moving on, the website has an online forum where users can trade information as well as a blog. [KMG]

The Robert Venn Carr Jr. Collection, Museum of Art at the University of Maine

The Museum of Art at the University of Maine was established in 1946, and the Robert Venn Carr Jr. Collection is an integral part of this well-defined collection. Visitors to this site can make their way through the Collection by browsing around by style or via the list of artists. It is quite a cornucopia of works here, and visitors can look at artworks by Josef Albers, John Baldessari, Max Ernst and Andy Warhol, among others. The "Style" section is a good way to look around as well, and visitors can make their way through "Conceptual Art", "Pop Art", and "Surrealism". Finally, the site has an "About" area which provides more details about the entire collection and the Museum of Art. [KMG]

Tate Learning: i-Map

In 2002, the Tate Museum launched i-Map, an art resource designed to be accessible for visually impaired people. i-Map uses text, audio, and animation to help those who cannot see the artwork gain an understanding. This process also creates a resource that can be enjoyed by sighted users as well, particularly the narrated animations. The original version of i-Map focused on eight works by Picasso and Braque, and used raised images and animation. The 2010 expansion presents the work of six 20th century artists: Patrick Caulfield, Giorgio de Chirico, Natalya Goncharova, Fernand Lger, Sir Eduardo Paolozzi, Francis Picabia, and Kurt Schwitters. The newer portion of i-Map also takes advantage of updates in technology that have arisen since 2002. For each artwork, there is explanatory text that can be read by a screen reader. Visitors can follow along on a narrated - by Crispin Bonham Carter - animation, as well as download a transcript of the narration. Downloadable raised images in .pdf format, designed to be printed on swell paper with a heat-fusing machine, and accompanying MP3 audio, are also available.

Network Tools

AbiWord 2.8.5

AbiWord is a nice alternative for those individuals looking for a word processor application that is entirely free. Several of the most notable features include a built in web service which allows users to share documents and an annotation feature that is fully integrated. The support for the application is quite good, and there's an extensive user manual and FAQ on the website. This version is compatible with computers running Windows 2000, XP, and Vista as well as Linux. [KMG]

In The News

New study on acupuncture contains promising findings

Acupuncture may trigger natural painkillers

The Great Beyond: Acupuncture 'works in mice'

Yankees starter A.J. Burnett credits acupuncture with helping him stay healthy

National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Acupuncture

Acupuncture: MedlinePlus

American Academy of Medical Acupuncture [pdf]

Acupuncture has been practiced for thousands of year, but some medical scholars and health care experts remain skeptical of its benefits. Some have claimed that establishing a control group in clinical trails to prove the treatment's efficacy is difficult, if not impossible. This week, a team of researchers at the Center for Translational Neuromedicine at the University of Rochester Medical Center announced that the needle pricks involved in acupuncture might help relieve pain by triggering a natural painkilling chemical. Medical researcher and lead author Dr. Maiken Nedergaard and her colleagues reported their findings in the journal Nature Neuroscience. The findings were based on studies that administered half-hour acupuncture treatments to a group of mice with paw discomfort. Dr. Nedergaard and her colleagues found that adenosine (the natural painkiller in question) levels in the affected areas near the needle insertion points were 24 times greater after treatment. This particular chemical is best known for regulating sleep by inhibiting nerve signals and inflammation. While these are certainly early days for this work, the initial results are promising and it will be interesting to track follow-up studies. [KMG]

The first link will take visitors to a piece from this Monday's Bloomburg Businessweek which reports on this recent study. The second link will take interested parties to an entry from the Nature blog, "The Great Beyond". The entry talks a bit about the new study and also has several additional links. The third link will lead visitors to a recent article from the Newark Star-Ledger about New York Yankee A.J. Burnett's use of acupuncture. Moving on the fourth link leads to the acupuncture information page, provided by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. The fifth link will whisk users away to more information on acupuncture from MedlinePlus and the National Institutes of Health. The last link leads to the homepage of the American Academy of Medical Acupuncture, which has information on their professional work and the world of acupuncture.

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