The Scout Report -- Volume 17, Number 42

October 21, 2011

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

Unknown No Longer: Virginia Historical Society

Persons with an interest in African American history in the United States often encounter incomplete records or limited access to databases. The Virginia Historical Society has done an excellent job of addressing this situation by creating this remarkable database of enslaved Virginians, drawing on their trove of unpublished documents. With support from the Dominion Foundation, this database brings together the names of these persons, along with any other pertinent information that may be associated with each name, such as their occupation or the names of other family members. Visitors to the site can browse the database by record type or location. Also, they can use the "Find A Record" area to look for listings by occupation, first or last name, or gender. The site is rounded out by a message board where users can post comments and questions for other users. [KMG]

APSnet: Advanced Plant Pathology Resources [pdf]

The American Phytopathological Society (APS) is a professional society dedicated to "high-quality, innovative plant pathology research." Founded in 1908, the APS continues to provide educational resources for those seeking to learn more about the science of plant pathology. One way they work to accomplish this goal is through this particular section of their website. The materials on this site include "Plant Disease Management Simulations", "Laboratory Exercises", and "Topics in Plant Pathology". The "Topics in Plant Pathology" area includes topical articles that deal with various aspects of plant pathology, including the use of reverse genetic tools for investigating gene function and the population genetics of plant pathogens. Moving on, the "Laboratory Exercises" area contains two activities that can be used by college students studying plant pathology. The "Plant Disease Management" area contains a handful of simulations that will help students learn about the spread and management of some common plant diseases. Finally, the site is rounded out by an illustrated glossary of plant pathology. [KMG]

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

Humanities on the Road

The goal of the Pennsylvania Humanities Council is to encourage lifelong learning, and one way they accomplish this goal is by sponsoring the Humanities on the Road. The show is an "arts and culture-themed television series showcas[ing] humanities presentations at cultural sites across Pennsylvania." The accompanying website provides visitors access to the episodes of the series, along with text about the content of each show. Visitors should check out the episode "May I Have the Pleasure of This Dance?", which was filmed at the Scranton Cultural Center at the Masonic Temple. A couple dances their way through history through waltzes, tangos, ragtime, and more. The "Behind the Scenes" tab near the top of the page offers visitors a glimpse into the world of the crew of the show, including interviews with the host, the series producer, the production assistant, and others. [KMG]

CENtral Science

Chemical and Engineering News has a separate website for "News, notes, and musings from C&EN" that takes a more accessible look at what is going in the world of chemical engineering with a dozen different blogs. These blogs include "Just Another Electron Pusher", "The Haystack", and "Artful Science". Visitors will find the latest entry in "Artful Science" to be an informative piece on acrylic paint, which was invented in the 1940s. This particular entry looks at how over time the surfactants in it rise to the surface of a painting and produce a white film. Currently, art restorers are looking for a way to effectively remove the film while not harming the painting. The "Friday chemical safety round-up" lists "chemical and safety news from the past week", including items from categories such as "Fires and explosions" and "Leaks, spills, and other exposures". [KMG]

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

Science Mentoring Research

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) has created a website that provides access to their research on science mentoring. The goal of the site is to "provide guidelines and resources for developing high quality research and evaluation studies for science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) career and workforce mentoring. " On the site's homepage, visitors can find links to research on these guidelines, resources for STEM mentoring, and announcements about upcoming awards and funding opportunities. Visitors interested in designing STEM research and evaluation studies should definitely check out the "Research" tab near the top of the page. The first suggestion provided is to review the literature, and they include links to the suggested readings, such as "Mentoring Report" and "Mentoring: Lessons Learned and Research Questions". Links are also provided for the additional steps suggested for designing a study, which may be of interest to those in the field of psychometrics and related fields. [KMG]

Case Studies in Primary Health Care [pdf]

The Johns Hopkins University's Bloomberg School of Public Health has participated in the OpenCourseWare program for a number of years, and this course is one of their most recent offerings. Created by Henry Taylor and Henry Perry, these course materials introduce "students to the origins, concepts, and development of community-based primary health care through case studies from both developing and developed countries." On this course site, visitors can read through the syllabus, examine the course schedule, and look over the lecture materials. In the lecture materials area, visitors will find lecture slides and their corresponding audio files. Some of the topics covered here include the roots of community-based primary health care and women's empowerment in Afghanistan. Finally, visitors can check out some of the course readings, which are offered in the pdf format. [KMG]

Microbe World (Last reviewed in the Scout Report on November 19, 1999)

Microbe World has grown by leaps and bounds since the Scout Report last reviewed the site. First-time visitors will notice that the homepage contains a featured image and a featured video, which usually features a science expert speaking on microbes via an archived webcast. Moving on, the right-hand side of the homepage contains informational videos that cover how to get started with using Microbe World. The "Videos" tab will allow users to learn from dozens of videos that cover a gamut of topics, such as genetically engineered bacteria and an investigation into the origins of the Black Plague. Visitors can also use the "Images" tab to view high quality images of microbes taken from various research laboratories, science organizations, and so on. Finally, users can use the "Resources" area to view laboratory demonstrations and find out about new microbe-related apps that are under development. [KMG]

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

Boston Science Partnership [pdf]

The goal of the Boston Science Partnership (BSP) is "to improve science education in Boston from middle school through graduate school." To help achieve this goal, the BSP works to provide high-quality teacher resources, including seminars, workshops, and classroom materials. Their site includes four primary sections, and they include "Media & Publications", "Announcements", and "Programs". In the "Media & Publications" area visitors can check out their presentation materials, white papers, and evaluation reports, which draw on research by BSP affiliates and other scholars. Moving on, the "Media Coverage" section contains information about their various conferences and meetings in and around New England. Finally, interested parties can also use the "Links" area to learn about science teaching centers at area institutions, such as Northeastern University and the University of Massachusetts, Boston. [KMG]

General Interest

Daguerreotypes at Harvard

Louis Jacques Mand Daguerre first introduced the daguerreotype in 1839 in 1839, and it was the first publicly announced photographic process. Daguerreotypes are produced by treating a silver-coated copper plate with light-sensitive chemicals, exposing it in a camera, and developing it with a mercury vapor. Harvard University has collected these unique documents for over 150 years, and this digital collection provides interested parties with access to some of these items. Visitors can look at class photos of Harvard students, along with portraits of Henry James, Jenny Lind, and James McNeill Whistler. These portraits can be found in the "Portrait Sitters" area, along with those of Martin Van Buren and Horatio Alger. The site also contains links to a complete directory of photographs at Harvard and a detailed research guide. [KMG]

The Negro Travelers' Green Book, Spring 1956

The history of travel writing is full of interesting stories and journeys, and some of them are born out of various hardships. In the 1930s, Victor H. Green began to publish the Negro Travelers' Green Book in order to provide African American motorists and tourists with the information necessary "to board, dine, and sightsee comfortably and safely during the era of segregation." The University of South Carolina Libraries has digitized the 1956 version of this guidebook and placed it online here for the general public. They have gone above and beyond by also creating a customized Google Map here that features over 1500 listings from the spring 1956 edition of the Green Book. Visitors to the site can wander over the map, search the entire book, and also read the book at their leisure. [KMG]

Digital Horizons

Digital Horizons was established in 2007 by a consortium that includes Prairie Public Broadcasting, the State Historical Society of North Dakota, and several other organizations. The goal of their work is to provide and maintain access to "a wide range of historical and significant content related to North Dakota and Minnesota." Visitors can use the search engine here to look for items by general subject heading or collection. All told, there are over fifteen collections included in this archive, including "Korean War Propaganda Leaflets", "Dakota Lithographs and Engravings", and "North Dakota Blue Books". For those looking for a place to start, they can take advantage of the "Popular Searches" list, which includes topical headings such as "floods", "bonanza farms", and "homesteading". This last heading is a great place to check out, as visitors will find evocative (and sometimes quite lonely) photographs of 19th century homesteads. [KMG]

International Museum of Women

This museum is "a museum without walls", and it is almost entirely virtual. The International Museum of Women (IMOW) exhibitions and the podcasts of their events are online, while their "Extraordinary Voices, Extraordinary Change" speaker series takes place in San Francisco. Visitors can start by choosing whether they want to read the site in English, Spanish, Arabic or French. The online exhibit titled "Curating Change" is a must see for visitors, as four influential women from the IMOW community act as guest curators and choose from among the global array of art archives on IMOW. One of the selections here is a series of photographs called "Working For Just Salt", which was created by the Indian photographer Selvaprakash Lakshmanan. It documents the women who mine salt, and who frequently lose their eyesight as a hazard of the job. The stunningly gorgeous black and white photos belie their subject matter, but hopefully garner attention to the cause of these women, who are given no safety protection from their harsh environment. [KMG]

Solar Cookers International

With diminishing supplies of firewood in many impoverished nations, how can rural people cook food for their families? In 1987, 17 solar cooking Californians started Solar Cookers International (SCI), and produced manuals on how to produce and use a simple solar box cooker. Since then, 30,000 families in eastern and southern Africa have learned to use solar cooking with the assistance of SCI. Visitors should definitely check out the ten-minute video on the homepage that explains the spread of the use of the solar cooker in Africa, which began in refugee camps where food had to be cooked for tens of thousands of people. Eventually, its use spread to rural villages, but the video explains it has been a slow process. Visitors interested in the Solar Review Cooker e-newsletter that is published thrice-yearly can sign up to receive it free, under the "Newsletter" tab. It is also available in dozens of languages, including French, Arabic, and Chinese. [KMG]

Immigrants in 2010 Metropolitan America [pdf]

The 2010 Census has afforded scholars and public policy experts with a wealth of data on demographics in the United States, and many people have chosen to use this data to look at urban and suburban settlement patterns. As part of their work at the Brookings Institution's Metropolitan Policy Program Jill H. Wilson and Audrey Singer have composed this 13-page paper which looks at the transformation of the immigrant community over the past decade. Released in October 2011, the report notes that the foreign-born population in the United States reached 40 million in 2010 and that immigrant settlement became less concentrated during the 2000s. The report also notes that 51 percent of immigrants lived in the suburbs of large metropolitan areas, up from 48 percent in 2000. The report also includes several graphs and charts that help provide some visual documentation of these various transformations. [KMG]

Office of Science Education: Life Works [pdf]

What does a respiratory therapist do? It's a good question and it is one that is answered in great detail on the National Institutes of Health's Office of Science Education "Life Works" homepage. The site was designed to help young people learn about different careers in the life and medical sciences. Visitors can browse for information on more than 100 careers by title, education required, interest area, or median salary. Each career profile contains an interview with a specialist in each field, and many of them also have video clips of the specialist at work. The site also has a career planning timeline that provides information on everything from preparing to pick a college to looking for financial aid. Finally, visitors can also look into finding an "e-mentor" that may be able to assist them wherever they might live. [KMG]

National Portrait Gallery: Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture

This exhibition from the National Portrait Gallery examines attitudes towards sexuality and difference in American art from the late 19th century to the present. Some of the artists in the show are homosexual; some are heterosexual; and the sexuality of the subjects of the works varies as well. As one of the curators, Jonathan Katz, says, "it's impossible ... to weed gay from straight in the course of the development of American Art. It's utterly integrated." The online exhibition show is divided into galleries, such as "Before Difference", which begins with a portrait of Walt Whitman. The gallery "Stonewall and After", commences with a young and happy Robert Mapplethorpe self-portrait, taken in 1975, while an older and more somber Mapplethorpe appears in the AIDS gallery, photographed in 1988. The multimedia section is also worth a visit, as visitors can hear short commentaries on selected works by curators Jonathan Katz and David Ward. There is also a 42-minute recording of Katz, James Boaden, and Dominic Johnson at the scholarly symposium "Addressing (and Redressing) the Silence: New Scholarship in Sexuality and American Art," January 29, 2010. [DS]

Network Tools

Liferea 1.7

Many operating systems have news aggregators, but persons who use Linux may find fewer options. Fortunately there is Liferea, which stands for "Linux Feed Reader". The program gives users the ability to bring together their various news sources and updates into one convenient location. The Liferea website also contains an FAQ area and several screenshots. This version is compatible with all computers running Linux. [KMG]

Stardock Fences 1.01.143

If you're looking for a way to clean up your desktop clutter, Stardock Fences is an application worth checking out. It gives users the opportunity to create shaded areas on their desktop which become movable and sizable containers for their icons. Visitors can then double click on these "fence" areas and they will fade into the background. Also, visitors can customize the color and opacity of their "fences". This version is compatible with computers running Windows 2000 and newer. [KMG]

In The News

New film takes a look at the legacy of the Pruitt-Igoe housing project

Why the Pruitt-Igoe housing project failed

Pruitt-Igoe Photographs

The Pruitt-Igoe Myth

The Pruitt-Igoe Myth: Journal of Architectural Education [pdf]

Living St. Louis: Wendell Pruitt

William Leo Igoe

Opened in 1954, the Pruitt-Igoe public housing complex in St. Louis was seen as a symbol of modern progress in terms of housing the poor. Designed by noted architect Minoru Yamasaki (who also designed the World Trade Center Towers); there were high hopes for the complex. Only 16 years later, the demolition of the entire complex began, and noted architectural historian Charles Jencks later referred to its demolition as the "day Modern architecture died". Conversation about this failed project has been piqued as of late due to a new documentary film about the complex titled "The Pruitt-Igoe Myth". The film takes a close look at the broader set of social and economic transformations at play during this period in St. Louis, and it offers a bit of a contrast to most traditional critiques that tend to focus entirely on the architecture of the complex as the root of the problem for its steady decline. Certainly the film will spark a new discussion about the pros and cons of Modern architecture and arguably about urban planning and public policy matters. [KMG]

The first link will take visitors to a bit of commentary on Pruitt-Igoe and this new film from The Economist's "Prospero" blog. The second link leads to a great trove of historic photographs of the housing complex, courtesy of the University of Missouri-St. Louis. The third link will take visitors to the homepage for the new documentary. Here visitors can learn more about the movie and watch the trailer. The fourth link whisks users away to an interesting academic paper from the Journal of Architectural Education by Katharine G. Bristol which discusses the myths surrounding the received wisdom about the Pruitt-Igoe complex. Moving on, the fifth link leads to a feature on Wendell Pruitt (an African-American WWII pilot) and his life via the "Living St. Louis" program. The final link leads to a short biography of the other namesake of the housing project, one William Leo Igoe, who was member of the U.S. House of Representatives in the 1910s.

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