The Scout Report -- Volume 16, Number 30

July 30, 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

How Metropolitan Areas Can Lead National Export Growth [pdf]

Economists and others realize the tremendous value of metropolitan areas, and recently the Brookings Institution took a close look at this subject in this compelling piece of research. In this 46-page report released in July 2010, three scholars at the Institution (Emilia Istrate, Jonathan Rothwell, and Bruce Katz) took a close look at potential export growth throughout America's metropolitan region. The work notes that metropolitan areas currently product 84 percent of the nation's exports and the 100 largest metropolitan areas alone account for over 64 percent of the nation's exports. The report starts with a basic overview of their findings, and it also includes an executive summary. On the site, visitors can also watch videos of the researchers talking about the work, and its potential policy implications. [KMG]

Reader's Almanac

The Library of America's is known for offering up the best of "Classic American writers, classic American books", and their blog is a veritable trove of just that. The site offers a daily update, complete with links to special stories recently featured in their critical print editions, along with video features, interviews, and rare items of interest. Recent posts include an excellent bit of commentary on Zora Neale Hurston, complete with a rare movie clip of her conducting ethnographic work in Florida in 1928. Visitors can browse through pasts posts, and they won't want to miss their RSS feed and their excellent list of high-quality literary blogs. This site is a must for anyone with an interest in American literature and culture. [KMG]

Medieval Library: Hesburgh Libraries: Introduction to Medieval Seals

During the Middle Ages the authenticity of important documents was established through the use of a seal. These seals were images carved into a matrix which, when pressed into a soft substance, left behind an inverse of the picture on the seal. This remarkable collection of medieval seals comes from the Medieval Institute at the University of Notre Dame, and the online exhibit was constructed by a team of researchers, including Dr. Marina Smyth and Rene R. Trilling. The seals found here are facsimiles, and visitors can browse them by categories that include municipal seals, guild seals, and university seals. Most of them are of French origin, though visitors shouldn't miss the amazing Secret Seal of the city of Lund in Sweden or the grandeur that is the Great Seal of the University of Heidelberg from 1386. Finally, visitors can browse around the seals by century or country of origin. [KMG]

The American Institute of Architects: Practicing Architecture

What do you need to know to be an effective practicing architect? Quite a bit, of course, and the American Institute of Architects (AIA) has created this helpful set of resources to address the subject. On the homepage, visitors can look over upcoming professional development events, take advantage of seven thematic sections, and also read their helpful area on sustainable design titled "Walk the Walk". The "Running the Firm" section provides great "nuts-and-bolts" type information for small firms, including some advice for dealing with clients, new technologies, and risk management. Moving on, the "Knowledge Matters" area contains profiles of new projects around the United States, along with profiles of various architects. Also, there are plenty of networking opportunities here, and interested parties can join up via their RSS feed, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. [KMG]

Sunlight Foundation's Party Time!

Founded in 2006, the Sunlight Foundation employs and develops new internet technologies "to create greater political transparency and to foster more openness and accountability in government." This website focuses on the political partying circuit, also known as fundraising. These parties reveal, "the relationships between lobbyists, congressional candidates, issues being lobbied and campaign money received." Thus, the parties are an excellent resource for citizen journalists, activists, and other interested members of the public. Visitors can view the invitations to the latest parties by clicking on "Upcoming Events". Some of the invitations include a golf tournament for Rep. Loretta Sanchez, a BBQ for Rep. Chet Edwards, and a "Crabs and Spaghetti Dinner" for Rep. Frank LoBiondo at Strategic Healthcare Townhouse. The "PARTYFINDER" allows visitors to search for parties by "beneficiary", "host", "venue name" or "entertainment type". Finally, there are several widgets visitors can put on their website or blog to display "Upcoming parties", "Upcoming leadership PAC parties", and "Parties by candidate state". [KMG]

National Museums Northern Ireland [Flash Player]

The Ulster Folk and Transport Museum in Northern Ireland is one of the four National Museums of Northern Ireland that comprise this informative website. Visitors will find the "Collections" at the Folk & Transport Museum are on numerous topics including "agriculture", "crafts and trade", "picture library", "buildings", and "archives" and help visitors "discover town and countryside with cottages, farms, schools and shops." The "archives" section includes a "sound archive" which is a BBC archive of film, radio, and television programs. This section also includes the "living linen archive", which is an oral history project that documents the lives of those in the linen industry. The "buildings" collection offers photos and interesting tidbits on over two dozen historically significant buildings in Ballycultra, that were moved from their original locations. There are examples (such as the "Ballyvollen Houses") that indicate English settlers built them, because of the building techniques. Visitors who click on "Rural Buildings" will find the Tulylish Bleach Tower interesting, as it provided shelter for a watchman to watch over long webs of linen that were in the process of being bleached in the sunlight. [KMG]

Investor Protection Trust

The Investor Protection Trust is a non-profit organization that was established in 1993 as part of a multi-state settlement to resolve charges of misconduct. Their website provides non-commercial investor education materials. Visitors should definitely start their journey to becoming educated investors by reading the "Seven Investor Education Booklets" that can be found in a link on the right hand side of the homepage. The booklets include such topics as "The Basics for Investing in Stocks", "A Primer for Investing in Bonds", and "Maximize Your Retirement Investments". Visitors interested in teaching investing in their classrooms or workplaces should go to the green "Teach Investing" tab at the top of any page. There are many different resources in this section, including a Train the Trainer PowerPoint presentation, as well as unique video series called "Teach Video Segments" that are identified by numbered unit of study and episode number, as well as the key point that the lesson is getting across. Each addresses a question or topic, such "Why invest?", "Understanding Risk and Reward" and "Multilevel Marketing Scam". [KMG]

General Interest

Scotts Bluff: Shared Heritage Travel Itinerary

Located along the North Platte River Valley in Nebraska, the Scotts Bluff region is rich in history. The area was traversed by settlers on their way West throughout the 19th century, and it is the subject of this Shared Heritage Travel Itinerary created by the National Park Service. This Itinerary was produced in cooperation with the city of Scottsbluff, the city of Gering, the Nebraska State Historic Preservation Office, and the National Conference of State Historic Preservation Officers. As with the other itineraries in the series, this one includes a "List of Sites" (complete with information about their significance), maps, and thematic essays like "Trappers, Traders, and Travelers" and "Cultivation, Irrigation, and Urbanization". There are many highlights here, but visitors shouldn't miss the sections on the Morrill County Courthouse or the Marquis Opera House in Scottsbluff. [KMG]

Fairbanks House Historical Site

In an inner ring suburb of Boston there sits a home that is over 350 years old. The home was constructed in 1640 in Dedham, and it is considered the oldest timber frame house identified in North America. Visitors to the Boston region area shouldn't miss it, however those who are unable to visit can learn more about this remarkable domicile on this website. Visitors will find plenty of interesting information in the sections titled "The House", "History", and "The Family". In "The House" section, visitors can learn about the houses' unusual history, and view a slideshow of images of the exterior and the interior. Moving over to "History", visitors will find period photographs and documents that provide insightful stories into the house's past inhabitants. Finally, the site also has a fine archaeological blog which talks about the various work that has been done on the house and the grounds. [KMG]

Alaska's Digital Archive (Last reviewed in the November 30, 1999 edition of the Scout Report)

There's a great deal of history up north in Alaska, and the Alaska Digital Library has done a lovely job of digitizing a number of items from a variety of area institutions. This project was initiated by the Rasmuson Library at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks and the Alaska State Library in Juneau. The initiative has already digitized several thousand images, and many of them are organized into thematic collections here. Visitors might wish to start by looking at some of their 1,200 maps, which include an 1897 gold prospecting map and an early map of Hudson Bay from 1758. Moving on, the "Movement to Statehood" collection provides a fascinating host of materials related to the state's history, complete with photographs of the military presence in the Aleutian Islands. Also, visitors can create their own collections for future reference. [KMG]

Blue Heron Press Collection: Artists' Books

The Blue Heron Press is based in Avoca, Nebraska, and over the past several decades they have published a number of exquisite chapbooks and illustrated works. Recently, the University of Nebraska Digital Collections group placed a number of their more recent publications online here. The works include some elaborate pieces that utilize wooden covers with leather spine wraps, and visitors can search the collection for various works. There are a number of "alphabet" themed books that contain colorful images and creative renderings of these 26 letters. Visitors are welcome to view the images in high resolution, and they can also zoom in and out to get a finer appreciation for all of the artistic details. [KMG]

European Route of Industrial Heritage

The European Route of Industrial Heritage (ERIH) was started in 2003, and it quickly gained the cooperation of the three countries (Belgium, Great Britain and Germany) that were the heart of the Industrial Revolution. The ERIH brought together non-profits, academic institutions, and tourism organizations with the goal to "protect Europes industrial heritage sites and use their preservation as a motor for the development of regions that are often suffering from economic decline." Visitors will enjoy the thoroughness of the ERIH's website, which offers an "Industrial History" of Europe. The links on the left hand menu for "Route System", "Anchor Points", "Regional Routes" and "European Theme Routes" offer different ways for visitors to view the industrial revolution, whether by the types of products produced or the size of their contribution to the industrial revolution. Each section has a map associated with it as well. Finally, the "Photo Gallery" links to photos of many of the industrial sites on the above routes, so visitors can see the beauty and uniqueness of these factories that forever changed how various goods were made. [KMG]

My HealtheVet [pdf]

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has a section of its website called My HealtheVet that offers a library of online "educational and health promotion materials on healthy living to enable Veterans to take control of their own health resources." Visitors will find ten "Healthy Living Centers", such as "Spinal Cord Injury", "Separation From Active Duty", "Physical Activity", and "Caregiver Assistance". Each "Healthy Living Center" offers great resources for veterans, their families, or caregivers. The "Spinal Cord Injury" living center has links for "Self-Management", "Caregiver Information", and "Support and Encouragement". The latter link provides links to the National Veterans Wheelchair Games and Winter Sports Clinic. The "Caregiver Assistance" living center offers visitors the opportunity to listen to an audio file of a talk about neurologically based impairments with focus on traumatic brain injury. A transcript of the talk is also available. Another very helpful audio file in the "Caregiver Assistance" living center is about a woman who is the caregiver for her retired Army husband who is a poly-trauma patient. She discusses caring for him, and being his advocate. [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

ARTSEDGE: Art of the Explosion [Flash Player]

If you missed the fireworks on the 4th of July this summer, this website from Washington D.C.'s Kennedy Center is for you. Art of the Explosion is a record of Chinese artist Cai Guo-Qiang's 2005 pyrotechnic work, The Tornado, that was created to launch Kennedy Center's Festival of China. On the site, visitors will find back-stage video, interviews, design sketches, animations, and other documentation that trace Cai's piece from conception to ignition. Intended for high school students, but perfect for all ages, the site also includes a create your own fireworks function, where you can arrange clips of different fireworks like rings, chrysanthemum, or Roman candle, on a timeline and watch them go off. [DS]

Network Tools


If you're somewhat inexperienced with website design, you may wish to check out Weebly. The program has received solid marks, and it gives users the ability to create a free website and blog. The program uses a drag and drop website editor, so users just need to move the videos, pictures, maps, or text they want into place. Weebly provides the hosting, and they also offer over seventy professional templates. There is also a special version available for educators and schools. Visitors are required to register online, and this version is compatible across all operating systems. [KMG]


If you've ever wanted to create a "word cloud", this application is the perfect way to do it. With Wordle, visitors just provide the text, and the application will generate these "clouds", which give greater prominence to words that appear more frequently. Users can tweak the clouds with different fonts, layouts, and color schemes. On the website, visitors can look at samples that use the US Constitution and other pieces of text. This version is compatible with all operating systems. [KMG]

In The News

Twenty years after its passage, the Americans With Disabilities Act continues to raise new questions

Americans with Disabilities Act hits 20 today

Americans With Disabilities Act: Looking Back on 20 Years Of Opportunity

Disabilities debate rages 20 years later

Obama's top disability adviser on ADA's 20th Anniversary

Could Bush's Americans with Disabilities Act Pass Today? [pdf]

When Ben Mattlin entered Harvard University as a freshman in 1980, the school (like hundreds of other institutions) was required to be accessible to handicapped persons under the terms of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. While the school was able to provide him with some assistance, they did not assign him a roommate, which was socially quite isolating. In 1990, Ben and other handicapped persons received some measure of assistance from the federal government when President George H.W. Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 on July 26. The wide-ranging act required public and private employers with 15 or more employees to make reasonable accommodation for persons with physical or mental impairments, and also banned discrimination against said persons. Many struggles regarding accessibility continue to rage on, and there have been lawsuits filed on behalf of disabled veterans seeking wheelchair seating at the University of Michigan football stadium. Other questions have emerged regarding the use of service animals in a variety of buildings and business establishments, including ducks that calm down people with mental illness or monkeys that predict seizures. [KMG]

The first link will take visitors to an excellent piece from the Detroit Free Press about local residents' struggles with finding adequate accommodation for their disabilities over the years. The second link will take visitors to a bit of reflection from Ben Mattlin, who is also working on a memoir. The third link leads to a thoughtful piece from's Philip Rosenbaum on the legacy of the ADA Act, and how it works in practice throughout the United States. Moving on, the fourth link will take interested parties to an interview with Kareem Dale, who serves as President Obama's top disability adviser. The fifth link whisks users away to a post on the U.S. News & World Report's Politics and Policy blog. In the post, Mary Kate Cary ruminates on whether or not the act would pass today. The final link leads to the official ADA homepage, which includes information about the act, along with important details about compliance, audio features, and so on.

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