The Scout Report
October 12, 2012 -- Volume 18, Number 41
A Publication of Internet Scout
Computer Sciences Department, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Sponsored by University of Wisconsin - Madison Libraries
Princeton University has some fine digital collections and this recent addition to their number will delight art historians and others. These block prints from the time of the 1911 Chinese Revolution were donated to Princeton by Donald Roberts in 1937. Roberts was an alumnus from the class of 1909 who taught history at St. John's University in Shanghai from 1915 to 1950. These very rare items include color prints, black and white illustrated sheets with current news, and so on. The prints explore the subjects of "modernity" and "nation," and, as period propaganda, tend to support the overall goals of the Revolution. Visitors can browse the collection at their leisure or search through the items here via a helpful search engine. [KMG]
MIT continues to amaze and delight educators and the general public with fantastic OpenCourseWare (OCW) offerings. This course, taught by Professor Thomas Herring in spring semester of 2012, allows interested individuals the opportunity to learn about the principles of the global positioning system. The materials here include the syllabus, lecture notes, and assignments. The lecture notes constitute the heart of the offerings and are divided into 23 sections. These include "Coordinate and Time Systems," "GPS satellite orbits," and "Basic antenna operation." Visitors can elect to download all of the course materials at once, or they can select certain items of interest individually. Finally, visitors are encouraged to send feedback on the course and sign up for the OCW newsletter. [KMG]
The National Science Resources Center (NSRC) was formed by the Smithsonian Institution and the National Academies in 1985. The NSRC's mission is "to improve the learning and teaching of science in school districts in the United States and throughout the world." On this website, visitors can learn about the Center's outreach efforts, instructional materials, international programs, and student & parent resources. Along the top of the homepage, visitors can look through sections that include Professional Development, Partnerships & Networks, and Curriculum Resources. Educators shouldn't miss this last section, as it includes a wide range of materials, including lesson plans, pedagogical suggestions, and so on. School leaders will want to look over the Building Awareness area as it features quality research reports on improving science education from kindergarten through college. [KMG]
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has compiled these resources for use by educators and students who wish to learn about agricultural statistics from around the country. Teachers should head straight for the Teachers' Desk area. Here they will find quizzes, classroom activities in English and Spanish, and word jumbles designed for students in the younger grades. The Core Historical Literature of Agriculture area contains dozens of key agricultural texts such as those dealing with the cultivation of the soya bean and reports from state agricultural stations. Visitors shouldn't miss the U.S. Agricultural Facts area as it features recent statistics that deal with farm populations, income, financial indicators, and employment. The site is rounded out by the Agriculture in the Classroom area, which contains state agricultural profiles and classroom activities. [KMG]
The University of South Florida Libraries have archived many dozens of wonderful collections and this one detailing the activities of the Works Progress Administration office in Tampa fits in nicely with the rest of these works. The majority of the 32 documents here deal with the history of Hillsborough County, along with detailed essays on the vibrant Ybor City and its immigration history. Visitors can search the collection by keyword, image type, or text passage. There's also a browsing feature which can be used to find more curious items, such as the "autobiography of a person who insisted on writing one" (his name was Gerardo Cortina Pinera, by the way). Other documents here include a copy of field notes for the Florida Encyclopedia project, a description of "family or domestic remedies" to common ailments, and a detailed history of Hillsborough County. [KMG]
Professor Steven Berg of Schoolcraft College has been working with his students to create this well-thought-out and interesting website. The purpose of the site is to focus on "only one event each day which is put in a socio-cultural context." Each day, the site features a new brief on a notable historical event such as the feast of Saint Pope Mark or the opening of the celebrated Moulin Rouge cabaret in Paris. While the quality of the student contributions varies (it is, after all, a blog rather than scholarly writing), the mission of the site makes it inspiring for others looking to enlist students in contextualizing and writing about history. In addition, Berg welcomes contributions from outside parties, so those in college settings may wish to inquire further. It's fun to look through the entries and see what students have profiled so far, and it's a nice way to learn about various intriguing events in human history. [KMG]
Based in Bristol, the mission of the Architecture Centre is "to foster a greater understanding and enjoyment of architecture and to promote the value of a better built environment." The Centre's outreach work includes exhibitions, events, lectures and critical debate, work with artists, and visits to inspiring buildings. In the Teaching Resources area of the site, visitors can learn about the Green Day initiative (which works to make schools sustainable) and the Engaging Places resource. This last resource is a fine way for educators, especially those in Great Britain, to use curriculum modules and classroom activities to learn the built environment, including parks and public centers. [KMG]
Frontline has certainly done programs on education before, but this arresting program may be one of their best. The two hour program offers a look at students in crisis and those "waging a daily struggle to get them to graduate." On this site, visitors can watch the program in its entirety and also look over profiles of the young people featured in this documentary. In The Latest area, visitors can learn about live chats and special reports such as "By the Numbers: Dropping Out of High School" and "Who Isn't Graduating from High School?" The site also includes a number of teacher guides that can be used in classrooms to explore some of the issues raised by this thoughtful presentation. [KMG]
Tufts University has a long and distinguished history: it has been a vital part of the greater Boston community for well over a century. The good folks at that institution's Digital Collections & Archives have brought together a "Concise Encyclopedia of Tufts History," a two-volume tome on the school's history, and historic snapshots of the Tufts homepage since 1997. The Encyclopedia is a real pip; sample entries include the College Equal Suffrage League, the tradition of "The Jam," and Israel Washburn, Jr. The real treat here is the pamphlet-style publication "High on the Hill," which discusses Tufts history and important sites, such as the celebrated Barnum Hall (named for P.T. Barnum) and the long-gone college farm. [KMG]
Amanda Akin lived in Quaker Hill, New York in the 1860s, though she left her home in April 1863 to serve as a nurse at Armory Square Hospital in Washington, D.C. The experience transformed her, and during her time there she wrote long letters to her sisters and also recorded her daily experience in diaries. This digital collection from the American History Museum allows visitors to learn from her first-hand experience via an interactive map that brings up the places she encountered during her travels. After looking over the interactive map, visitors can make their way through six thematic sections, which include Tokens of Remembrance, A Wartime Role for Women, and Portrait of a Nurse. Each of these sections contains photographs, letters, and other items that tell of Akin's different discoveries, her trials, and her many accomplishments. [KMG]
The Scout Report has profiled the Genetic Science Learning Center website from the University of Utah in the past, but the website's authors continue to add material of note. This latest offering looks into the genetic variables of variation, selection, and time. As the site notes, "In our ever-changing world, a naturally occurring genetic difference in an individual can become an advantage or a fatal flaw in the struggle for survival." Visitors can start with the introductory section, titled "Recipe for Evolution," to explore an interactive "recipe" that's both fun and edifying. Moving on, the "Things You May Not Know About Evolution" looks into common misconceptions about the process of evolution. Finally, visitors can also use the Evolution in Action area to explore evolution in the stickleback fish and rock pocket mice. [KMG]
The Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) is able to attract many of the top scientists from around the world. It makes sense that they would also draw upon this collective acumen to help young people learn about what they do. Visitors can submit their own questions for these professionals or look at questions that have already been answered. First-time visitors can start with the Top Ten Questions to get started on their journey. There are actually sixty questions answered here, as there are six sections, including Animals, General Biology, Evolution, and Genetics. The questions answered here are a diverse lot, ranging from "Why is there no mammal with green fur?" to "Why is memory affected by age?" The answers are lucid, well-written, and quite thorough. The generally curious will not be disappointed by this site. [KMG]
Over the years since its origins in the late 1880s, the Bronx Park has been expanded several times. In 1891, the city of New York allotted 250 acres of the park to the New York Botanical Garden, and in 1897 assigned 250 more to the Bronx Zoo. This particular digital collection brings together postcards of the grounds held by the Wildlife Conservation Society Library and the Garden's LuEsther T. Mertz Library. The collection here includes over 450 postcards, which visitors can browse by subject headings, including Zoo animals, Paths and walkways, and Bronx River. The Zoo animals area is well worth a look, as it features a range of animals, including a Noah's Ark exhibit, camels, and Indian elephants. It's an amazing archive of documents related to one of the most famous zoos in the United States, and historians and others will find it quite marvelous. [KMG]
This exhibition from the Art Institute of Chicago (AIC) takes visitors inside the working process of Studio Gang Architects. Founded by Jeanne Gang in 1997, Studio Gang is the creative force behind projects inspired by the city of Chicago, such as the Aqua Tower, an 82-story, multi-use high-rise with a hotel, apartments, condominiums, parking, offices, and one of Chicago’s largest green roofs. Also in the exhibition is an unbuilt concept for an apartment complex in India: Hyderabad Tellapur 02, that "transforms the traditional Indian courtyard house into a new porous building type that serves a much larger-scale...development." The porousness is a system of cracks that provide cross ventilation for individual apartments, without air conditioning. The web exhibition concludes with a short video of the installation of the show at AIC. [DS]
If you are looking for a bit of fine free speech recognition software, look no further than TalkTyper. Visitors can dictate documents, emails, blog posts, and so on. After clicking on the microphone icon, users begin speaking. At the conclusion of any passage, users can just click the "Copy" button and things will be all set. This version of TalkTyper is compatible with all computers running Chrome 11 and newer. (For those without Chrome, clicking on Alternatives at the bottom of the TextTyper home page provides users with a list of other Speech to Text programs and apps.) [KMG]
Creative types will love Iconify. The basic premise of this web-based application is that it allows creative professionals to turn their work, drawings, photographs, and sketches into both a streamlined website and a downloadable app. Visitors can upload their images and graphics and tinker with them to get things just as they want them. After that, they can share their portfolios via a wide range of social networking sites. This version is compatible with all operating systems. [KMG]
Italy needs anti-corruption authority: Transparency International
Italy: open letter to Prime Minister Monti
European Commission: Italy
Italy and the European Union
Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom Index 2011-2012
It can be hard to root out corruption at the national level; nations have grappled with this pernicious problem for centuries. Italy's struggle with corruption has been in the news as of late, as this past Friday, the NGO Transparency International issued a letter suggesting that Italy should create an independent authority to fight graft in the country. Recent estimates indicate that graft costs the taxpayers some $78 billion a year. The group had issued a report earlier in the year that noted that 87 percent of Italians felt corruption was one of the country's greatest problems. Some of the alleged transgressions of late include the revelation that the chief and four employees of a tax collection agency in northern Italy had stolen $130 million. Another official allegedly spent more than $1.3 million in public monies on sports cars, an extended vacation, and a Bacchanalian toga party. [KMG]
The first link leads users to a piece from the Chicago Tribune that reports on the recommendations made by Transparency International. The second link will whisks users away to the official letter from the head of Transparency International in Italy to Prime Minister Mario Monti. The third link will take visitors to the official homepage of the Italy Member State Service from the European Union. This site provides information on long term development projects in Italy, offered up by region. The fourth link will take visitors to a valuable publication from the Brookings Institution about the relationship between Italy and the European Union. The fifth link leads to the annual Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom Index, which has continued to challenge Italy's relatively low freedom of the press. Finally, the last link will take users to Transparency International's website, where they can learn about other efforts to reduce government corruption worldwide.
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The Scout Report (ISSN 1092-3861) is published weekly by Internet Scout
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