The Scout Report -- Volume 16, Number 44

November 5, 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

Growing Knowledge: The Evolution of Research

How will research change and evolve in the 21st century? It's a broad question, and the British Library has created this website to offer insight into the world of innovative research tools. First-time visitors will want to watch the video on the homepage that features commentary by various scholars and professionals on "The Modern Library", "Information Overload", and "Digital Research". All of the offerings on the website complement an existing in situ exhibit that includes multimedia research stations and a "collaborative zone". In the "Start Researching" area of the site, visitors can look at standout examples of recent collaborative digital projects that push the contemporary boundaries of research. Further along, visitors shouldn't miss the "Tools" area which brings together high-quality online tools that can make the research process much easier and streamlined. Finally, the site is rounded out by a range of social media tools that users can use to stay on top of the latest posts and materials added to this site. [KMG]

The Habitable Planet: Ecology Lab

The Annenberg Media project continues to bring interesting and engaging educational materials to teachers and students, and the ball keeps on rolling with this particular feature. The ecology lab feature here is designed to be used in conjunction with "The Habitable Planet" series, which is also available on the site. Teachers and others will note that the site includes an ecology simulator, and visitors can toggle the various settings to learn how the addition or removal of different species will affect their self-designed ecosystem. The simulator is fairly easy to understand, and there's a "HELP" section designed to provide assistance. Additionally, the site also includes a glossary of relevant ecosystem terms, videos, and an online textbook. [KMG]

Citizen Corps [pdf]

Bringing people together for a common cause is one of the things the United States does very well, and the Citizen Corps organization is a great example of this type of initiative. Sponsored by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Citizen Corps is their "grassroots strategy to bring together government and community leaders to involve citizens in all-hazards emergency preparedness and resilience." On their homepage, visitors can learn about online emergency training opportunities, get involved in their communities, find out about National Preparedness Month, and check out individual preparedness activities. The other materials on the site are contained with five primary sections, including "Citizen Corps Councils", "News & Events", and "Are You Ready?" For persons working in the field of disaster management and community development, this website will be one worthy of a return visit or two. [KMG]

The Wessels Living History Farm, the Story of Agricultural Innovation [Flash Player, Quick Time]

Before Nebraskan David Wessels passed away, he left a vision in his will for a "living history farm". A committee formed in 1995 made sure that his vision would come to fruition, and the result was the creation of the Wessels Living History Farm. The farm was started in York, Nebraska, and it has a long-standing partnership with the Nebraska Educational Television Network. For visitors who can't make the trip out to York, this website is the next best thing. The site does a great job of providing visitors with information about how farm life has changed since the 1920s. The sections on the site describe the farming experience chronologically by decade, and each decade contains seven sections, including "Machines", "Crops", and "Pests & Weeds". Each of the sections contains a short introductory paragraph or two, but the real highlights are the video clips that feature people talking about changes in farm technology, farm life, and other germane topics. Some of the subsections here include "Harvesting Wheat", "Tractors", and "Fertilizing". The "Learning Resources" area contains materials for teachers, complete with grade level suggestions, objectives, and so on. Some of the featured materials here include "What Do You Believe", and "Life Before Electricity". Finally, the site is rounded out by a web camera that lets you peer into life down on the Wessels farm. [KMG]

Evolution of Normal Fault Systems During Progressive Deformation [Quick Time]

The Teaching Structural Geology in the 21st Century website from Carleton College brings together lesson plans, interactive modules, and in-class evaluations that help college professors work more effectively with their students. This recent addition to the site comes from H. Robert Burger of Smith College. This activity is based on a series of Quick Time movies and color digital photographs, and the students will first view movies to "gain awareness of the basic evolution of normal fault systems." After this, students are asked to investigate the formation and evolution of a fault system for a particular structural system. Users will find a bit of information on the audience for the activity, a set of goals, the movies, and a description of the activity. [KMG]

Frontiers [pdf]

The Frontiers website is an "open-access publisher of scholarly articles", with the goal of pioneering the "approach to the world of academia, radically improving the way scholarly research is managed." Although it originally started in 2007 by only covering neuroscience, visitors will find that it now includes "Science", "Medicine", and "Technology", and the many branches within those disciplines, such as "Pharmacology", "Endocrinology" and "Biotechnology". The "Books" section of the website, which visitors can find at the bottom of the homepage, offers free e-books to browse, PDF downloads, or also buy in a hardcover format. Some of the topics of the e-books include neurodegeneration, sleep and dreams, depression, and augmenting cognition. Conveniently, visitors will find an "Events" section of the website that shows the dates, locations, and other details of conferences and workshops relevant to the scientific community, such as the "Annual Conference on Epigenetic Robotics" which takes place in Sweden. [KMG]

Boston University Libraries: Research Guides

Many libraries compile research guides for their community members, and some of them are quite good. Staff members at the Boston University Library system have worked on well over 40 such guides, and they are available on this site. By clicking on the "Subject Guides" tab, visitors will find topics arranged alphabetically (from "accounting and auditing" to "women's studies"). Each guide features a well-organized set of links that document the key journals in each field, along with offering a host of print resources, citation indices, and external websites. Some of the guides are more detailed than others, and the highlights include the one on United States history and the one on sociology. One can imagine that these guides would be put to good use by college students or others looking to garner more information for personal or professional use. [KMG]


CiteSeer has been around since 1997, when it was first created at the NEC Research Institute at Princeton University. It was the first digital library and search engine to provide automated citation indexing and citation linking using the method of autonomous citation indexing. The library is primarily focused on the literature in computer and information science, and the project partners include Pennsylvania State University, the University of Arkansas, and King Saud University. First-time visitors can check in on the site by using the "Most Cited" area to learn about commonly consulted documents, authors, and citations. Moving on, visitors can also perform their own searches by using the embedded engine on the homepage. Also, visitors are encouraged to log-in to create their own profile so that they can save searches of importance. [KMG]

General Interest

Transcontinental Railroad Pictures and Exhibits

While it's impossible to take a transcontinental ride across the United States on the Union Pacific (the railroad doesn't exist anymore), visitors can get a sense of what such a ride would have been like via this fine set of digital exhibits. The Central Pacific Railroad Museum has been online since 1999, and it has grown from a few modest galleries of photographs to include thousands of stereoviews, photographs, engravings, maps, and ephemera. The different sections of the site include "steam locomotives", "Sierra Grade Construction Views", and "railroad maps". The materials on the site are a bit difficult to search, so it can be a challenge to find material quickly. Visitors shouldn't miss Nelson's 1871 Central Pacific Railroad (CPRR) guidebook, which contains a set of lovely renderings of the way west along the rails. The site is rounded out by a FAQ section. [KMG]

The Spanish Manner: Drawings from Ribera to Goya

Inspired by the technical and aesthetic achievements of Italy and Flanders, Spanish draftsmen in the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries created works that continue to impress modern viewers. This online exhibition was designed to complement an in situ exhibit at the Frick Museum in New York, and it features works by Goya, Ribera, and Murillo. On this site, visitors can look over introductory essays on the exhibit and read over a nice piece on the emotional and artistic content of works by Goya. Moving on, the "Podcasts" area contains several podcasts, including a conversation with curators to discuss several key works in the exhibition. The site is rounded out by an exhibition checklist which allows users to view the various works here. [KMG]

Liljenquist Family Collection of Civil War Portraits

The sesquicentennial of the American Civil War is being celebrated by museums, historical organizations, and of course, the Smithsonian Institution. Along with lectures, talks, and so on, they are also working on a few new digital collections. One such collection is the Liljenquist Family Collection, which contains over 700 ambrotype and tintype photographs. This remarkable collection of photographs highlights both Union and Confederate soldiers during the war, and the family sought out images to represent the impact of this conflict. Currently, over 600 of these images are available here, and they include African Americans in uniform, portraits of entire families, and a Lincoln campaign button. Visitors to the site can browse through the images at their leisure, or view them as a list, slideshow, or in a gallery format. Also, users can download each image and look over the germane provenance and metadata details for each item. [KMG]

"True Crime" Murder Pamphlets in the Collection of the National Library of Medicine

Murder has always been viewed as a monstrous crime, and the sensationalism that one finds in today's media regarding homicide and related dastardly deeds is not without precedent. This compelling digital collection from the National Library of Medicine brings together murder pamphlets from the 17th to 19th centuries which document a range of crimes via their approach to describing a range of heinous deeds. These pamphlets were frequently sold on street corners, and as a curious public often relied on them for a type of portrait of such crimes, they sold quite well. Today, scholars and others use these pamphlets to illuminate the history of class, gender, the law, science, the city, and religion. Visitors to the site should start by reading the four-part introduction, and then they can dive into the "Pamphlets" section. Here they will find 36 different documents with titles like "The trial and execution of Dr. John W. Hughes for the murder of Miss Tamzen Parsons, with a sketch of his life as related by himself: A record of love, bigamy and murder unparalleled in the annals of crime." Taken together, they offer a rather insightful and curious look into these unique publications. [KMG]

From the Maui Time Weekly to the Chicago Reader, alternative weekly publications are a common feature of many communities across the United States. Usually, they are distinguished from more traditional newspapers and publications by their long-form articles and pressing regional affairs and their witty and acerbic cultural commentary. The Association of Alternative Newsweeklies (AAN) is a trade organization with over 130 member news groups that represents the interests of said publications. Visitors to their website can learn more about the AAN in the "About" section, and then move on to look over the "AAN News" area. The real fun starts with the "Top Stories from Altweeklies" area. Here visitors can read a wide range of articles from member publications, such as "The Art of Canvassing" and "Self Storage and the World of Hoarders". For people in the industry, the "Awards" and "Conferences" area are both worthy of a look, and others may wish to sign up to receive updates from the AAN, which include their newsletter and story updates. [KMG]

Institute of International Social Development [pdf]

The Institute of International Social Development (IISD) encourages "holistic development and empowerment of disadvantaged communities and societies and improving the quality of life all around." There are several welfare projects the organization runs, in India and Switzerland, as well as training for their programs, in New York. The "Programs" tab near the top of any page, allows visitors to see a list of the long-term projects of the Institute, as well as read the "objective" of each project, a "description" of it, and the "achievements". Each program is run to accomplish one or more of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) of the UN, and visitors can read the MDG listed in the objective of each program. Visitors shouldn't miss the link on the far right hand side of the programs page "Arts and Craft", which is a ten-page PDF that showcases one of the projects in West Bengal, India. The report includes photos, a map, and text that explain how IISD has encouraged teams of women artisans to create and execute traditional embroidery to be used in the creation of hats, saris, and coin purses. The items are then sold by the artisans themselves, in order to empower their community. [KMG]

Lesotho Highlands Water Project
The Kingdom of Lesotho is a tiny landlocked country, about the size of the state of Maryland, and it is completely surrounded by South Africa. Its most significant natural resource is water, and thus the majority of its economy is based on providing water and electricity to South Africa. The Lesotho Highlands Water Project website is a window into the effects such a large water project can have on a community, arguably some of them negative. For instance, visitors should check out the "FAQs" section to read some of the issues that have come up with the project, including loss of property and livelihood. The "Documents & Reports" link has dozens of documents, including ones about "IFR" (which stands for Instream Flow Requirement), "Hydrology" and "Studies & Special Reports". Visitors shouldn't miss the "Villages of the Dammed Response", under "Studies & Special Reports", which is an excellent letter to the editor at the Globe and Mail that highlights the debate surrounding the Water Project and what it promises. [KMG]


Frontline covers an investigation of British Petroleum's Gulf of Mexico oil spill disaster which occurred in the summer of 2010, and the full program can be watched online here. Visitors can read the transcripts of "Interviews" with various high-ranking government officials and two journalists. A box entitled "Highlights", that is contained within each transcript, allows visitors to quickly see what questions will be addressed by Frontline in this program. A few examples include, "At what point does a company's record raise red flags?", "Why penalties for environmental crimes are limited", and "The early warning signs of BP's problems". The "Blowout Video" tab is for visitors interested in seeing three videos and several photographs of the Deepwater Horizon's explosion and fire that occurred in late April. The "BP's Troubled Past" tab thoroughly catalogs BP's past environmental transgressions and also offers links to many of the sources that are cited in the story. [KMG]

Network Tools

ThinkFree Online

With ThinkFree Online, interested parties wont' have to fuss around with carrying flash drives or worrying about whether they have a certain important file handy lodged away in their email. The ThinkFree Online service provides a free web office suite with 1GB of online storage. Visitors can use the program to store documents, and they can also edit and manipulate documents without opening it in a separate program. Visitors will need to sign up for an account here on the site, and this version is compatible with all operating systems. [KMG]


The CiteULike site is a free service designed to help individuals manage and discover scholarly references. Sponsored by the Springer group, the service allows users to click on a paper they find online, and it will be automatically stored in their personal library. The service is "social" in a matter of speaking, as visitors can share this library of references and papers with others. CiteULike also has a flexible filing system based on tags, and visitors can customize these tags as they see fit. It's a fantastic resource, and it's compatible with all operating systems. [KMG]

In The News

In a region of superlatives, another engineering wonder is completed

Visitors aren't bypassing Hoover Dam since bridge opening

Hoover Dam Bridge is America's newest wonder

Hoover Dam: Taming the Colorado River and Powering Millions

Bureau of Reclamation: Lower Colorado Region-Hoover Dam

Hoover Dam Bypass Project

Completed in 1936, the Hoover Dam is a study in superlatives, even by American standards. Firmly planted in the Black Canyon of the Colorado River, the dam produces power for utility systems across Nevada, California, and Arizona, and is visited by over a million people each year. Recently, the Hoover Dam found a bit of competition for the attention of curious visitors in the form of a bypass bridge that glides 890 feet above the Colorado River. The official name of the structure is the Mike O'Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge, and it opened several weeks ago to immediate acclaim and widespread public interest. This bypass was first suggested in 1968, and funding for the bridge was secured in 2001, and construction began in 2005. The setting is tremendous, the structure has the world's tallest concrete columns of their kind, and it is the highest and longest arched concrete bridge in the Western hemisphere. Some have noted that the bridge was also a crucial project as it effectively redirected attention away from the Hoover Dam, which many have thought would be an ideal target for terrorists in the wake of 9/11. Commenting on the structure, the project manager Dave Zanetell noted, "Hoover Dam was the greatest engineering accomplishment in our nation's history. We had an opportunity to be as great for our generation." [KMG]

The first link will take visitors to a fine article from the Las Vegas Review-Journal from last Saturday about the new bridge. The second link leads interested parties to an additional news article about the structure which appeared in USA Today, complete with a time-lapse video of the bridge under construction. The fourth link whisks users away to a site from the Voice of America's "Learning English" initiative. Here visitors can learn about the history of the Hoover Dam and its construction. The fifth link takes visitors to the Bureau of Reclamation's site on the Hoover Dam, complete with information on tours of the dam and a photograph gallery. The final link leads to the homepage of the Hoover Dam Bypass Project, and visitors can look around the site to learn about the project history and some of its key participants.

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