Internet Scout Report’s General Interest Websites for Week of September 7, 2007

The Scout Report

General Interest
Chinese Paper Gods

Anne C. Goodrich went to China as a missionary in 1931, and she soon found herself fascinated by the world of the paper gods she encountered in and around Beijing. Goodrich wanted to learn more about the world of these local folk religions and she began purchasing a great deal of these materials as they became available. Many years later she would publish a three-volume study on the subject. After she passed away in 2005, staff members at the Columbia University Libraries Digital Program began digitizing a variety of prints from her collection. The images on the site are divided into those items which were purchased to be burned immediately and serve as emissaries to heaven and those which were purchased to be displayed for a year while offering protection to the family in a variety of ways. There are several hundred of these images offered within the collection, and they are further subdivided into categories like “pantheons”, “heaven”, and “Earth”. Visitors seeking additional background information on these artifacts should consult the online essays here as they address the iconography of these items as well as their conservation. [KMG] Nonfiction

The web makes finding reference works rather simple, and has been kind enough over the past few years to put more than a healthy offering of their publications online at no cost to voracious readers and the generally curious. On this corner of their site they have brought together over one hundred popular nonfiction works. Visitors can meander through “The World’s Famous Orations”, edited by someone who knew a bit about the topic, one William Jennings Bryan. Other volumes include the collected works of Francis Bacon, John Stuart Mill’s “Autobiography”, and Thomas à Kempis’ devotional work, “The Imitation of Christ”. It’s quite a nice collection of works, and one that could be recommended to others looking for basic editions of some rather important and valuable pieces of writing. [KMG]

Sacred [Real Player, iTunes, pdf]

The homepage of this very recent online collection of sacred texts from the British Library doesn’t mince any words, declaring this clutch of materials to be “The world’s greatest collection of Jewish, Christian, and Muslim holy books.” The subtitle to this remarkable collection is “Discover what we share”, and that is certainly an apt phrase to describe this moving online collection, which is intended to complement the in situ exhibit. First off, there are the texts themselves, which can be viewed in their entirety, and examined at leisure. There is a complete chronological list, a list organized by faith, and several editors’ lists, such as “Kings and Queens” and “Pictures and Portraits”. In keeping with the strong online traditions of like-minded exhibits at the British Library, visitors can take in some video highlights, including the Sufi dancer Zia Azazi and they may also watch a scribe demonstrating how old sacred texts were crafted. Additionally, there are several dozen podcasts that deal with the illumination of sacred texts and discussions on the relationship between medicine and various traditions of faith. Overall, the site is powerfully moving, inclusive, and worthy of repeat visits. [KMG]

Stories from the Heart of the Land [iTunes]

The Nature Conservancy has a broad mission that includes preserving the diversity of life on Earth through a range of thematic initiatives. One of these initiatives is public outreach through presentations and conferences, and a recent addition to their efforts is quite compelling and engaging. This addition is the “Stories from the Heart of the Land” series where visitors can listen to five programs. Each program is an hour, and they include profiles of David Attenborough, a trip through nature that is both local and global, and a visit to the home of noted author and naturalist Barry Lopez. Additionally, visitors can also sign up to receive RSS feeds from the site and learn more about the people behind the series. [KMG]

UC Berkeley Transportation Sustainability Research Center [pdf]

The Institute of Transportation Studies (ITS) at the University of California at Berkeley works in a number of topical areas, and one of these areas happens to be research on sustainable transportation strategies and development. Visitors to the site’s homepage can browse through some of the topics along the left-hand side of the site such as “Plug-in Hybrid Vehicles Project”, “Low Carbon Fuel Standards Project”, and the “Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuels Project”. The “Publications” area is quite useful, as it includes thoughtful policy analyses such as “A Low-Carbon Fuel Standard for California” and a supplementary technical report. Visitors looking for additional works dealing with transportation sustainability can search the entire archive as well. [KMG]

Medline Plus: Herbal Medicine

From the world of Aloe Vera to yohimbe, this site leaves no herbal medicines unexplored. As part of the Medline Plus omnibus site which was created by the U.S. National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health, this particular section covers many aspects of the world of herbal medicine. First-time visitors will want to start by looking over the background essays on the use of botanical dietary supplements offered from the Office of Dietary Supplements. After that, they should browse through sections that include “Basics”, “Learn More”, “Research”, and “Reference Shelf”. They can also just scroll down through the homepage, which includes overviews on the use of different herbs and supplements. Those persons looking for the latest information about research findings on herbs and topical treatments can look within the “Latest News” listings, which are updated frequently. Researchers will appreciate the inclusion of a “Clinical Trials” area which provides the latest information about ongoing clinical trials that draw on various aspects of herbal medicine. [KMG]

2007 CEO Compensation Study

Charity Navigator provides high-quality information about charities in order “to advance a more efficient and responsive philanthropic marketplace.” One of the more recently published studies is the 2007 CEO Compensation Study. Visitors can read this annotated report here in its entirety, and it contains a wealth of information about the subject. In the year 2007, their research shows that the top leaders of the 5242 largest charities in America earn an average salary of $145,270. While this amount may strike some as rather large, the report also notes that CEO compensation accounts for just 3.37% of the average organization’s spending. The report contains a number of helpful charts, such as those that list average CEO salary by geographic region and by size of charity. [KMG]

Smithsonian American Art Museum: Interact [Macromedia Flash Player, iTunes]

At Interact, the Smithsonian American Art Museum (SAAM) invites visitors to explore its collections through “rich media” where they “post slide shows, podcasts, and other resources that present our collection in new and engaging ways.” A double row of thumbnails follows this invitation. While it is difficult to determine which type of rich media a picture might link to, it is easy to simply click through to find out. Destinations include: “Speaking of pictures”, an interactive view of Thomas Le Clear’s oil painting, Interior with Portraits, ca. 1865, with 5 rollovers analyzing this portrait within a portrait of a photographer’s studio; a slideshow on the restoration of the SAAM building; and Campfire Stories, a flash-based Web site on George Catlin’s interactions with American Indians, and the art these produced. A long list of recent interactives created at SAAM is also posted the web site. Probably the best way to enjoy of all this content is to sign up to receive the RSS feed of new additions. [DS]


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