The Scout Report -- Volume 18, Number 11

March 16, 2012

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

Railroads: The Transformation of Capitalism

During the 19th and early 20th century, the railroad was the reigning king of American industry. A range of short and long haul railroads built and used over 240,000 miles of track from north to south and east to west. This fascinating online exhibit from Harvard Business School's Baker Library looks at how these companies transformed American business, and makes some comparisons with European railroad companies. The materials here are divided into ten sections, including British Railroads, Mass Distribution, Finance, and Management. Each section includes primary documents such as receipts, maps, and internal memos that illustrate how these various companies interacted with each other and the government. The Finance section is utterly engaging, as it discusses (in brief) how railroads were able to corral large amounts of capital for construction and operations across a vast "playing field" of operations. [KMG]

The Institute of Physics: Content Tailored for Teachers

The Institute of Physics, based in London, has created this page for teachers looking for high-quality resources to help students learn about the basic principles and laws of physics. First-time visitors should click on the Resources for the Classroom section in the middle of the page. Here they will find interactive web-based activities and teaching tools like Practical Physics, SimPhysics, and Medical Physics. This last one is quite helpful, as it is designed to teach students about ultrasounds, the electromagnetic spectrum, and radioactivity. Under the Related Information: Education area on the right-hand side of the page, visitors will find even more tools, such as videos designed to help young women learn about physics, and a Physics Lives area. The latter is quite a pragmatic and welcome addition, as it features university research physicists talking about what they do on a day-to-day basis. The profiles have fun titles, such as "Baths and Quarks" and "Written in the Sky." [KMG]

NOVA: Separating Twins

How do skilled surgeons go about crafting a surgical procedure that will separate twins? That was the challenge faced by those medical experts who prepared to separate Trishna and Krishna, twin girls joined at the head who had been abandoned at an orphanage in Bangladesh. Visitors can watch the entire NOVA program that profiles this most remarkable procedure, and it's a great way to learn about this tremendously complex process. After watching the film, visitors can look over the Related Links. Here they can read an interview with one of the main surgeons, watch a short video on brain trauma, and find out about the possible future of brain transplants. On the right-hand side of the page, visitors can view related multimedia features, such as a map of the human heart. [KMG]

The Montana-Yellowstone Geologic Field Guide Database

For any college student majoring in the geophysical sciences, getting out into the field can be a key academic experience. This novel initiative, created by Carleton College's Science Education Resource Center (SERC), is a pilot project designed to make the field guide literature more accessible and useful to geoscience educators, students, and researchers. This site features published field guides and road logs for Montana and Yellowstone National Park, both of which are popular locations for summer field courses conducted by geology departments from San Diego, California to Orono, Maine. Visitors can search the database by topic, geographic location, and geologic province. Additionally, they can use the Top 10 area to find a list of the top ten geology field trips in the area based on geological interest, scenery, and general access. The site is rounded out by a collection of student exercises based on specific field localities in Montana. [KMG]


Studying and understanding diagnostic images such as CT scans is an important part of being a successful radiologist, but others in allied healthcare professions need basic skills in the area as well. This website offers over 154,000 images designed to assist individuals learn how to read them to craft an accurate medical diagnosis. The images are divided into anatomical regions (such as adrenal, chest, and colon, and visitors can browse around at their leisure. Visitors will note that the sections are updated frequently, and they can also search them via a handy search feature. In the Additional Sections area, visitors will also find a trauma and veterinary section. Also, the site features a Quiz Yourself feature that turns off the teaching file diagnoses so that interested visitors can test their own knowledge. [KMG]

Genomics in Education [QuickTime, pdf]

How do you get young people interested in the world of genomics? Well, for a start, you can take them on this interactive tour of the Genome Sequencing Center at Washington University. Created by a team of researchers at the Center, this site offers twelve different video clips, several supplemental videos, and a host of student activities. Visitors can get started by viewing the five different clips in the GSC Tour Video area. Here they will get acquainted with preparing the lab and the various technologies used on the premises. Moving on, the Interview Clips section features conversations with lab members. The site also includes rather thorough tour documentation (including a script and a glossary), and a place to offer feedback. Also, the site offers seven different student activities, including Signal to Sequence, Assembling a Sequence, and Paper Terminators. [KMG]

American Institute of Architects: Blueprint for America Initiatives

As part of its 150th anniversary celebration in 2007, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) decided to use the expertise of its members to collaborate with communities around the United States. The organization's members hoped to enhance the spaces around them, and they managed to work with over 156 communities to document such transformations. These projects included an "extreme makeover" of bus stops in Oklahoma, greening and improvement of the Brooklyn Expressway, and construction of affordable housing modules across New York and southeastern Wisconsin. On this website, visitors can use the interactive map to explore on the various locations of these projects. Each location features information about the proposed intervention, and in many cases, the narrative description is accompanied by a link to an external website that provides additional materials. First-time visitors would do well to look at the AIA Topeka's plan for the Kansas Riverfront Reclamation or the streetcar feasibility study done for Vancouver, Washington. [KMG]

General Interest

Our New Kentucky Home

The Kentucky Historical Society has created this online exhibit to offer a range of stories from "immigrants who have come to Kentucky to create a better life for themselves and their families." The site includes three primary areas: The Timeline, Obstacles Along The Journey, and Precious Few Belongings. In The Timeline area, visitors can click on a time period to learn more about the people who came to the Bluegrass State from 1770s to the present day. Each time period is presented through an image of a room where visitors can explore the various material items immigrants valued. Next up is the Obstacles Along the Journey area, which lets users scroll through an old book to read about the trials and tribulations faced by different groups as they moved into the state. Finally, the Precious Few Belongings offers a bit of a context about the key items that each group brought to the state during their journey. [KMG]

Tate Modern: Explore

If you can't make it to the banks of the Thames River to wonder around the seven floors of the Tate Modern, this website provides a surrogate until such a visit is possible. Designed to be interactive and user-friendly, this site includes a Map, a History section, and an Artists tab. The Map feature gives visitors the ability to scroll around each room of the museum to learn about which works are located there. Clicking on the History tab reveals a fun interactive timeline that includes information about historical events outside the world of art, along with grey bars that serve as a guide to various periods, such as Minimalism, the St. Ives School, and Happenings. Those persons interested in specific artists can use the Artists tab to look for works by Jean Arp, Vito Acconci, and dozens of others. Finally, visitors can use the My Tour section to create their own personalized tours of the Tate Modern. [KMG]

Rollins Digital Archive

Located in tranquil Winter Park, Florida, Rollins College is a liberal arts institution founded in 1885. A team of archivists and digital media specialists at their library has worked to create this clutch of digital collections designed to tell the story of their institution, and by extension, the story of Florida and American colleges. There are six smaller collections within this main archive, including Faces of Rollins College, Rollins Architecture & Landscape, and Winter Park and Florida. First-time visitors may wish to start with Winter Park and Florida to learn about how the community and this educational institution have truly grown up together. Here visitors will find photos, historical documents, and maps that tell the story of the early pioneers and places that have shaped the institution. Moving on, the Faces of Rollins College includes over 380 images of professors, students, and visitors to campus over the past 125 years. [KMG]

Greetings from Milwaukee

While it is still common to send postcards from one's travels, today more and more people might just opt to send images via their smartphones. But a century ago, major postcard companies produced hundreds of postcards for cities small and large. Milwaukee was no exception: years ago, visitors could send images of the Milwaukee County Zoo, the homes of Astor Street, or the 3rd Ward. This digital collection from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Libraries features 755 postcards from the Thomas and Jean Ross Bliffert Postcard Collection. Thomas and Jean Ross Bliffert have collected postcards of Milwaukee since 1945, and they donated their collection to the library in 1998. This particular set of images focuses primarily on postcards produced by Milwaukee publishers like the L.L. Cook Company and the E.C. Kropp Company. There's something for everyone here, including some rare images of the long-gone rides at the Wonderland Amusement Park. Lovers of urban geography and history will be able to spend some quality time here, and it's a great slice of Wisconsin history. [KMG]

Chicago Public Library: Millennium Park

The transformation of the area east of Michigan Avenue from an industrial wasteland into the vibrant and heavily-used Millennium Park is truly a remarkable tale in Chicago's recent history. The apocryphal tale says that Mayor Richard M. Daley looked out from his dentist's office and envisioned a public park that would be comparable to other grand spaces in the city. The construction of Millennium Park took quite some time, but when the park was finished in 2004, most people were quite happy with it. This digital collection from the Chicago Public Library brings together over 5,100 images of the park at various phases of its construction. Visitors can view a highlights file of 154 images, and they can wander through topical areas like Cloud Gate, Crown Fountain, and Lurie Garden. Visitors interested in broad vistas of the entire setting should click on Full Park. Finally, visitors can use the tabs on the left-hand side of the page to look at architectural renderings and models of the park's various sections. [KMG]

Dartmouth Digital Collections: Books

The good folks at the Dartmouth Digital Library Initiatives continue to offer a veritable cornucopia of printed ephemera, and this website will delight anyone with an interest in topics as wide-ranging as comics, Dr. Seuss, Russian placards, or the Arctic. Here visitors can make their way through nine digitized works, including "The Fortunes of Ferdinand Flipper." This particular item was published in the 1850s, and is widely considered to be the first comic book written in the United States. The collection here also includes Theodor Geisel's (Dr. Seuss) reflections on his early career as a young artist up to the publication of his 1937 book "And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street." Further along, visitors will find a collection of Russian placards dating from 1917 to 1922 designed by one V. Lebedev for the state news agency of Soviet Russia. Finally, the site also includes 16 volumes of the magisterial Encyclopedia Arctica, which was sponsored by the U.S. Office of Naval Research. The work was never formally published, and it documents hundreds of scientific, zoological, and geographic topics. [KMG]

Greater Philadelphia GeoHistory Network

The Greater Philadelphia GeoHistory Network (GPGN) is a project by the Philadelphia Area Consortium of Special Collections Libraries designed "to develop a web-based repository of geographically organized historical information about Philadelphia, its geography, its buildings, and its people." It's quite an impressive endeavor, and anyone with a love for the City of Brotherly Love will want to spend at least a few hours on the site. First-time visitors can get started by clicking on the Resource Browser on the homepage. Here they will have access to thousands of digitized materials, including early images of the city, planning documents, historic views, land use maps, and so on. The items here date from 1683 to the late 1960s, and visitors can use the resource type toggle feature to look for specific groups of documents. Moving on, visitors can also use the Interactive Maps Viewer to look over map layers that include a 1934 land value appraisal map and a 1942 land use map created by the Works Progress Administration. Finally, visitors shouldn't miss the Educational Resources area. Here they will find guides for teachers seeking to use this wealth of information in their own classrooms. [KMG]

MoMA: Cindy Sherman

Everyone's abuzz about Cindy Sherman - her current retrospective at MoMA was reviewed in the Arts sections of the "New York Times" on February 23rd, she's in the February 27th "New Yorker", and was even mentioned in the "Wall Street Journal" on March 5, in an article by Pia Catton, who admits to being skeptical of Sherman's elevated status in the art world. So it's a good thing that we can all use the online version of MoMA's exhibition to do a reality check. All of the characters in Sherman's photographs are the artist herself, in different guises. Sherman has gone large for the first time in this exhibition - creating larger-than-life, floor-to-ceiling murals for the lofty museum space. Another new thing is her use of Photoshop to digitally alter her features in addition to the tricks of hair and makeup she has always employed. At the website, visitors can view works chronologically or by Gallery. There's also a set of videos, My Favorite Cindy Sherman, that consists of art critics, curators, and other artists commenting on Sherman's work. [DS]

Network Tools

PDF to HTML Converter

If you're looking for a way to convert pdf files to html, this helpful application can do just that. Visitors just need to click the browse button here to locate the pdf that they wish to transfer. After doing this, they will supply their own email, and seconds later, they will have the converted file. This version is compatible with all operating systems. [KMG]


Are you tired of looking through news items online that aren't relevant to your locale? Hubii gives users the ability to connect with items specifically geared towards to their immediate locations and various interests. The application uses users' current locations to look for categories of news in the region. Visitors can watch the three-minute video here to get started as well. This version is compatible with all operating systems. [KMG]

In The News

From now on, the Encyclopedia Britannica will only be published online

Encyclopedia Britannica ends print, goes digital,0,338011.story

After 244 Years, Encyclopaedia Britannica Stops the Presses

Encyclopedia Britannica to stop printing books

Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th edition

Death of a Sales Force

The first proto-encyclopedia was created by Pliny the Elder two thousand years ago. Over the course of many years, he created a work that covered art, medicine, geography, geology, and natural history. Since that time, many encyclopedias have come and gone, and one of the most enduring is certainly the Encyclopedia Britannica. First published in 1768, the work began life in Edinburgh and it was considered one of the distinguishing products of the Scottish Enlightenment. This Tuesday it was announced that the Encyclopedia would no longer publish a print edition, but the company will continue to update and offer its digital online version. In a statement released this week to major news outlets, the company's president, Jorge Cauz, commented that "The print edition became more difficult to maintain and wasn't the best physical element to deliver the quality of our database and the quality of our editorial." Of course, the broader story of this transformation involves the rise of various free online encyclopedias, such as Wikipedia. Interested parties may still purchase one of the existing 15th edition printed copies of the Encyclopedia for $1,400. [KMG]

The first link will take visitors to a news article about the Encyclopedia Britannica's decision to go to an all-digital format from this Wednesday's Chicago Tribune. The second link will lead interested parties to a bit of commentary on this development from the New York Times' "Media Decoder" blog. Moving on, the third link will take users to a piece from CNN's Julianne Pepitone about the recent decision made by Encyclopedia Britannica to stop printing physical copies. The fourth link leads to a digitized copy of the celebrated (and rather controversial) 11th edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica, published in 1911. The fifth takes visitors to a great archived piece from that features an interview with Myron Taxman, one of the last Encyclopedia Britannica salespeople. The final link leads to the homepage of the Encyclopedia Britannica, which offers free access to select articles and information about the company.

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