Sci-Tech Library Newsletter
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- Science Unites the World: Condolences sent to the US from around the world.
- New Database — IRIS: Statistics on US R&D from 1953 to the present from NSF.
- New Bibiliographic Database — SciBASE: A new free database from The Scientific World.
- Integrity in Science Resource: A database of scientists and a list of nonprofits with ties to industry.
- New E-Books & Reports
- Interesting Websites and News from the Internet: National Academy of Sciences Terrorism Collection, PSIgate (Physical Sciences Information Gateway), Science, Technology & the CIA, Who Wants to Win a Million Dollars? — The Science Game, Netsurfer Science Issue on Sept. 11 Events; Biological Sciences: The Evolution Revolution, Evolution — PBS, CBW and Terrorism; Computer and Information Science: ITpapers [.pdf], MachineBrain.com, Wearable Computing; Engineering: The American Experience: Technology, Two NAE Events Online, A Civil Engineering View of the WTC; Geosciences: Eye in the Sky, Deep Sea Pages; Mathematical and Physical Sciences: World Space Week with NASA, Do Math, Physics Central: Learn How Your World Works, Celestial Photography by Michael Stegina, Learn Net; Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences: Australian and Asian Palaeoanthropology, Mesoamerican Ballgame, Capitol Spotlight, Liberty versus Safety … and more … plus news items from Edupage
Science Unites the World
A National Day of Prayer and Remembrance: Dr. Colwell’s Remarks
“The work we do — the science and engineering we support — helps as much as any human action to combat the global factors that encourage events such as Tuesday’s, which include ignorance, poverty and prejudice. Every week we move the boundaries of knowledge and reason a little farther ahead. Every month we get genuinely, if sometimes imperceptibly, closer to a world in which decency, community, tolerance and freedom can flourish.” Dr. Rita Colwell, Director, National Science Foundation
Science is a force that helps to unite the world. All the many U.S. organizations that received condolences from our friends around the world are deeply appreciative of the compassion exhibited in these messages.
The National Academy of Sciences has put some of these messages on their website. They comfort us all.
New Database — IRIS
Industrial Research and Development Information System
The National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Industrial Research and Development Information System (IRIS) links an online interface to a historical database with more than 2,500 statistical tables containing all industrial research and development (R&D) data published by NSF since 1953. These tables are drawn from the results of NSF’s annual Survey of Industrial Research and Development, the primary source for national-level data on U.S. industrial R&D.
The Survey of Industrial Research and Development Historical Database is a collection of all of the statistics produced and published from the 1953-1998 cycles of the annual Survey of Industrial Research and Development. The database was developed for use by the science, engineering, academic, industrial, and policy making communities to build knowledge of the historical trends in and inform current discussions about the levels of industrial R&D. The survey provides national estimates of the total expenditures on R&D performed within the United States by industrial firms, whether U.S. or foreign owned. It is a sample survey that intends to include or represent all R&D-performing companies, either publicly or privately held. Tabulations from the survey contain R&D statistics by industry, size of company, source of funds, character of R&D, R&D as a percentage of net sales, and R&D contracted to outside organizations and performed outside the United States. They also contain estimates of the sales and total employment of R&D-performing companies, employment of R&D scientists and engineers, and statistics by state.
The database contains the tabulations resulting from the survey since its inception in 1953 through 1998. Before the development of the database, tabulations from surveys prior to 1991 were available only on paper because electronic versions of the annual reports only exist for 1991 through the latest cycle of the survey. These reports are available elsewhere on the Division of Science Resources Studies web site at http://www.nsf.gov/sbe/srs/indus/start.htm.
The database contains statistics only through 1998. The reason for this is NSF’s industry R&D statistics for 1953-1998 were classified using the same industry coding scheme, the Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) system. Beginning with the statistics from the 1999 survey, a new coding scheme is being used. Statistics for 1999 and later are classified using the North American Industrial Classification System (NAICS). (To give data users a bridge between the two coding systems, several tables that reclassify SIC industries for 1997 and 1998 into the new NAICS industries are included in Research and Development in Industry: 1999.)
New Bibiliographic Database — SciBASE
“sciBASE gives free access to a unique collection of the world’s premier databases of scientific, technical and medical research literature. sciBASE currently covers more than 30 million articles published since 1965 in more than 30,000 journals. sciBASE is updated daily with approximately 10,000 new article records. sciBASE now also features immediate digital delivery of full text articles from nearly 500 current journals produced by participating publishers. Currently, these publishers include Blackwell Science, Taylor & Francis, IOS Press, IUPAC and Mary Ann Liebert. Additional content sources will be added in the near future.”
The database seems to accept search statements with complex Boolean logic and gives some quite nice results. Searching the database is free, full text of journal articles is available for purchase.
Integrity in Science Resource
The Integrity in Science Database
“The Center for Science in the Public Interest has launched this Internet site to provide information about the links between hundreds of scientists — mostly in the fields of nutrition, environment, toxicology, and medicine — and businesses. All too often, such ties result in conflicts of interest, especially when neither the scientists nor the corporations disclose them. This website begins to lift that veil of secrecy by providing journalists, activists, policymakers, and the public with information about the links between numerous scientists and corporate America. This database also includes information about some of the corporate support received by dozens of professional, health, and nonprofit organizations.
The database provides partial information about scientists’ and non-profit organizations’ direct or indirect current or past relations with industries. Inclusion in this database does not imply that the listed parties have had improper motives or acted unethically. Similarly, absence from this database should not be interpreted as absence of business relationships.
The fact that a scientist or organization has been affiliated with companies or trade associations does not necessarily invalidate a study or a person’s or organization’s views. Clearly, a company has every right to seek professional advice, and that may involve compensating professors or other experts.
The public interest is best served by the free flow of information, including that provided by this database. Such information helps the public to better understand or interpret statements made by scientists or organizations.”
New E-Books & Reports
Energy in the United States: 1635–2000. DOE, 2001.
Interesting Websites and News from the Internet
National Academy of Sciences Terrorism Collection
“Recent attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon have intensified concerns worldwide about the threat of terrorism. A collection of National Academies reports examines anti-terrorism measures, including technologies for screening airline passengers, better designs for buildings that may be targets of terrorist attack, and preparation for the civilian medical community in responding to chemical or biological threats.”
PSIgate (Physical Sciences Information Gateway)
Launched on Monday, PSIgate is the physical sciences hub for the UK’s Resource Discovery Network (RDN). From this page, users can search the PSIgate database, search an expanded catalog (PSIgate+) generated by harvesting pages from the PSIgate database, or search across RDN databases. Returns include resources focused on astronomy, chemistry, earth sciences, physics, history of science, and more. In the future, PSIgate plans to launch a current awareness service. This is a “must-bookmark” for scientists, students, and educators. [TK] (From the Scout Report)
Netsurfer Science Issue on Sept. 11 Events
The Netsurfer Science newsletter is one of my favorites. This issue provides an excellent presentation of websites concerned with the various science aspects of the tragic events of Sept. 11.
Who Wants to Win a Million Dollars? — The Science Game
“Welcome to Who Wants to Win a Million Dollars! Test your knowledge of math and science as you work your way to the million dollar level! Although the questions you will answer are real, the money, unfortunately, is not. You aren’t playing for real money! Sorry!” The questions start extremely easy and work their way up to about a middle school level. Other games based on the table of elements are also available.
Science, Technology & the CIA
“Mention of the Central Intelligence Agency generally elicits visions of espionage and covert action operations. It may also produce images of the multitude of finished intelligence products the agency turns out — from the tightly controlled President’s Daily Brief, available only to the president and a select circle of advisers, to a number of less restricted intelligence assessments. The CIA’s role in the application of science and technology to the art of intelligence is far less appreciated.” Along with an advertisement for his book, Richelson provides the full text of a variety of documents pertaining to this interesting history.
CBW and Terrorism
Proceedings of “Medical and Public Health Response to Bioterrorism”
Public Health Emergency Preparedness and Response (CDC)
Chemical & Biological Defense Information Analysis Center
Frontline: Plague War
Federation of American Scientists
Center for Civilian Biodefense Studies
The first document represents the proceedings of a conference covering many aspects of public health response to biological terrorism. Most articles are brief. It is part of the larger CDC website on this question, which also provides other documents and links to the public health entities concerned.
The CBDIAC is housed by DTIC. Among other items, it includes news stories and CB related patents. It also has an extensive list of (uncategorized) related weblinks. Frontline presents a report dated 1998 on the biological weapons threat and a discussion of the weapons amassed by the Soviet Union and a discussion of reports of CB agents used under apartheid. The Federation of American Scientists presents a succinct summary of the parameters of the problem and the possible agents that might be used. Johns Hopkins’ Center for Civilian Biodefense Studies provides a well-organized website including agent fact sheets, JAMA consensus statements, Congressional hearing testimony, links to numerous full text resources, and more.
Evolution — PBS
As a companion to the seven-part, eight-hour television series, PBS’s Website offers an in-depth look at the history and complexities of evolution. From Darwin’s _Origin of Species_ to the role of religion, this site explores the topic in vivid detail. All interested will discover excellent information, but K–12 teachers will find the Teachers & Students section especially valuable. Here, resources on methods of teaching and understanding evolution are provided in online courses and guides. The site features a number of multimedia elements, film clips and interactive displays, and surfers with older computers and slow modems will want to choose the low bandwidth options when they are available. [JAB] (From the Scout Report)
The Evolution Revolution
First-year US college students have prepared this site under the umbrella of ThinkQuest Inc., which is described as a global network of students, teachers, parents and technologists dedicated to exploring youth-centred learning on the net. Students do research projects and publish their results on the web in a competitive way and this site is the result of one such project. It is divided into two completely separate versions, one a plain text version and the other a full HTML version. Apart from some pictures and a short interactive section about the Galapagos Islands on the latter version, they both provide the same information. However, the background and text colour on the HTML version are such that the text is quite difficult to read and I preferred the plain text version. The content is excellent and it covers the whole field of evolution from before Darwin to the present day in very great but easily understandable detail. Technical words are highlighted and link to a succinct glossary. Apart from the drawbacks with the HTML version, this is a really excellent source of information about this subject from every possible angle and is a credit to the authors. MDH (From New Scientist)
Computer and Information Science
Brought to the Web by The Applied Technologies Group, Inc. (ATG), ITpapers offers users access to more than 23,000 white papers and other documents related to information technology. Holdings here are divided into ten categories, including Corporate Computing, Internet, Software, Hardware, Security, and more. The several layers of subcategories and the summaries of documents make this a very useful site for users searching for information on any aspect of information technology. In addition to browsing, ITpapers can be searched by keyword. Users must register to view content, but the site assures that information is kept confidential. Interested users can sign up to receive a newsletter informing them of new additions in their areas of interest. [TK] (From the Scout Report)
Published by a pioneering inventor of wearable computing and cybernetic photography (“wearcam”), this site is dedicated to the evolving technology “comprising a small body-worn computer that is always on and always ready and accessible.” This expression of the technology creates a “synergy between human and computer, characterized by long-term adaptation through constancy of user-interface.” Links to graphic exhibits and essays explore the applications, aesthetics, psychology, peripheral devices, humor, philosophy, legal and civil rights implications, and future of wearable computing. The author, a professor of electrical and computer engineering, has more information about wearable computers at WearCam.org. (From Librarian’s Index to the Internet)
A nice portal page to all things robotic and AI. Besides a regular web directory, also has news, classified ads, a discussion forum, and more!
A Civil Engineering View of the WTC
This is an interesting look at the World Trade Center from Civil Engineers telling the story of the recent tragic events. Articles detail the construction features that were involved in the abilities of the towers to stand so long after the crash, and in the eventual collapse of the buildings.
The American Experience: Technology
Whether you are fascinated by the telephone or curious about women aviators, there’s a story to be told at this site. Many memorable American moments in technology are relived in a series devoted to the American passion for invention and applied science. LC (From New Scientist)
Two NAE Events Online
NAE’s Annual Meeting
Power Plays: Shaping America’s Energy Future
National Academy of Engineering’s President Wm. A. Wulf and Chair George M.C. Fisher will address members at the NAE’s annual meeting on Sunday, Oct. 7, 2001 in Washington, D.C. Listen to their remarks via live audio Webcast from noon to 1:30 p.m. EDT on Oct. 7 (requires RealPlayer 8 Basic.
Price and availability of electricity in the western United States, tensions over access to domestic energy resources, and high gasoline prices have propelled energy policy into the national consciousness. Current and emerging issues in electric power will be the featured topic of an all-day symposium hosted by the National Academy of Engineering on October 9, 2001 in Washington, D.C. Register online to attend the event or listen via live audio Webcast (requires RealPlayer 8 Basic), accessible on the national-academies.org home page from 8:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. EDT on October 9, 2001.
Eye in the Sky
“They circle the Earth’s upper limites in silence, keeping watchful eyes on the great drama unfolding below.
Welcome to Eye in the Sky, an investigation into the state of the planet from the point of view of satellites. We humans long have yearned to see our surroundings from the heavens. Now that we can, we find some of what we see disturbing. Other pictures inspire awe … and a new reverence for our green-and-blue home.”
The categories of image available are Nature’s Fury (including hurricanes, volcanoes, wildfires, earthquakes and tornadoes), Human Impact (including floods, pollution, deforestation, and overpopulation), Exploration (including archeology and Mars), and Human Conflict (including refugees and war). Also included are news, history of satellites, resources, and links, and classroom ideas.
Sobering and vivid. From National Geographic.
Deep Sea Pages
At first sight, the home page of this site, prepared by a professor of biology at a college in Washington State, appears very cluttered but, in fact, it contains a great deal of information about the ocean and the life in it and is the gateway to much else besides. Clicking on some of the frames on the home page produces very high quality enlarged pictures, while clicking on other parts opens links to separate pages providing highly detailed information about almost any aspect of the ocean that you could think of. All the information is in technical language, so it is not a site for the faint-hearted, but it will certainly provide you with the answers to any questions that you care to ask about this very interesting subject. There are even details of research ships, should you be so taken that you would like to do some research of your own. MDH (From New Scientist)
Mathematical and Physical Sciences
Do Math is part of a larger project, funded by the National Science Foundation and the US Department of Education, called Figure This. It presents math challenges in the form of puzzles, for families to solve together. The puzzles are based on things to which children can relate, like their own birthdays, and maps. One of the puzzles uses the idea of a patio illustrate why a bigger perimeter means a bigger area. For each puzzle there is a follow-up page called ‘Did you know,’ that gives more detail and sometimes includes brief historical facts. This allows children to build on what the puzzle has just illustrated. The site will appeal to many age groups, as younger children may need to use all of the hints to find an answer, while older children will need fewer. The whole site can also be used in Spanish. This site is fun. It will help parents get more involved in their childrens’ education, and it will make children see a math challenge as exciting. SS (From New Scientist)
Physics Central: Learn How Your World Works
This educational site exists to “describe the latest research and the people who are doing it and, if you want more, where to go on the web.” Of interest to students, laypeople, or physicists seeking to stay broadly informed about newsworthy events in the field, Physics Central communicates a fascination with this branch of science. Features include a writer’s gallery of recent physicists’ essays and a question and answer service about how things work. People in Physics highlights the careers of interesting scientists. Section archives offer stimulating retrospectives. Searchable. (From Librarian’s Index to the Internet)
Celestial Photography by Michael Stegina
An attractive webpage showing the gorgeous photography possible by an amateur astronomer. Includes information on the equipment used.
“LearnNet is a new network designed for the use of teachers and students of chemistry — at all levels. The network aims to provide access to products and information (including those produced by the various national chemistry societies across the world) relevant to the study of chemistry. This site has been classified by experts in the teaching of chemistry to ensure that the best interests of the users have been attended to at all times. Each section links to an alphabetical list of resources and useful links to other information. Visiting the A–Z lists will provide you with the title, target age range and type of resource. Clicking on the resource title will then take you to a description of the product and the LearnNet Mini Guide that outlines price, and general product information. From these pages either selected sections or, in some cases, the complete resource, are accessible online.” Many of the resources are free of charge.
World Space Week with NASA
October 4–10 is World Space Week, and NASA is celebrating. Join them for a host of activities including an overview of the International Space Station. More activities follow for the remainder of the month. NASA always puts on a good show!
Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences
A joint service of C-Span and Congressional Quarterly, Inc., Capitol Spotlight is an online newsletter highlighting events and issues on Capitol Hill. Each week that Congress is in session, Capitol Spotlight’s content will focus on a key vote. Features include key vote preview stories and interviews, interactive chats with experts, and vote results and breakdowns by party. This is a good resource for those interested in government because top editors from C-Span and Congressional Quarterly are tracking bills, gleaning committee news, and generally keeping their ears to the ground for you with regard to national politics. Live hearings and archived videos of news conferences round out the site (Real Audio). [HCS] (From the Scout Report)
This site, which accompanies the travelling exhibit of the same name, is divided into three main sections devoted to ball games in Mesoamerican cultures, 1500 BC – 1519 AD. Explore the Mesoamerican World gives visitors basic background information on cultures and time periods in Mesoamerican history. Explore the Ball Game is, of course, focused on the game itself, a practice that went far beyond sport to sometimes involve human sacrifice. Experience the Ball Game allows users to watch or “play” a ball game, the latter entailing a quiz on the contents of the site. The fourth section, Experience the Exhibit, gives locations and dates for the travelling exhibit as well as information on purchasing a catalog. K–12 teachers using the site will find four art projects related to the exhibit in the Classroom Connections section, accessed via the button at the bottom of the page. This is an interactive site geared toward K–12 students interested in cultural history. [TK] (From the Scout Report)
Australian and Asian Palaeoanthropology
For those who study fossilized skulls, this site offers a wealth of images and data, with an emphasis on Australian and Asian examples. The skulls, and in many cases, only the fragments, are presented with details of their condition, and sometimes, a photograph of the dig. For the merely curious, there are fascinating tidbits related to the impact of European culture on indigenous populations. Aborigines had no history of dental caries until the arrival of Europeans, who brought refined carbohydrates. The curious circular wear pattern in some teeth samples is due to the clenching of a pipe stem, another nod to the newcomers. AD (From New Scientist)
Liberty versus Safety
“Bush Law-Enforcement Plan Troubles Both Right and Left” — New York Times
Attorney General Ashcroft Outlines Mobilization against Terrorism Act — DOJ
Attorney General Ashcroft’s Draft Anti-Terrorism Package — Section by Section Analysis
Summary of Chairman Leahy’s Uniting and Strengthening of America Act
After the attack: Privacy vs. security — ZDNet
“Arab Americans caught in profile snare” — San Francisco Chronicle
“In Patriotic Time, Dissent Is Muted” — New York Times
“Requests for Student Information Stir Concern” — Washington Post
“Why Liberty Suffers in War Time” — WiredNews
Many of the nation’s lawmakers are concerned this week with how to square national security measures with civil liberties. Attorney General John Ashcroft has asked Congress to quickly pass legislation granting broad powers to the administration, including the ability to indefinitely detain those considered a threat to security, greater discretion in surveillance, and more power to seize people’s assets, among other provisions. Senators and Representatives on both the left and the right are debating the proposal, many expressing no small amount of concern over the potential abridgment of citizens’ rights that the legislation represents. This week’s In the News is addressed to this crucial question: what price security or what price liberty?
The New York Times [free registration required] today gives an overview of current thoughts on the hill regarding Ashcroft’s proposed legislation. The US Department of Justice (DOJ) offers a summary of the Mobilization Against Terrorism Act, and Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) has posted both an analysis of the Act and a summary of his own proposed alternative, the Uniting and Strengthening of America (USA) Act. ZDNet’s special feature, After the attack: Privacy vs. security, covers the proposed legislation along with other issues such as FBI use of data from ISPs and calls for legislation addressing encryption. The San Francisco Chronicle, New York Times, and Washington Post report on other civil liberties issues, and WiredNews gives a quick overview of the breaching of citizens’ rights in times of war in America. Wartimeliberty.com is a good source of breaking developments; they explain that they “document this struggle between liberty and security by posting transcripts, documents and analyses — and letting you make up your own mind.” (From the Scout Report)
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BETTER NETWORKS: LOOK TO NATURE
Telecommunications firms may be able to make their networks more efficient by emulating the techniques of ants to establish the quickest lines of communication. Because data on the Internet is sent in separate packets, researchers say that sending virtual ants through these networks to find the fastest routes could help speed data packets to their destinations. In nature, ants deposit pheromones to keep track of which trials are best. Collectively, these individual tracks focus in on the most efficient routes. Icosystem Chairman and chief scientist Eric Bonabeau is also working on using this ant method to make peer-to-peer networks, distributed computing, and instant messaging technologies even more effective.
(New York Times, 13 September 2001 via Edupage)
THE LITTLE SCREENSAVER THAT COULD
Graduate students at Stanford, along with 15,000 volunteered computers, are helping to solve the intricacies involved in protein folding. The Folding@Home project is similar to Seti@Home, the most popular distributed-computing model, since it uses screen savers on volunteers’ computers to solve massive calculations. Dr. Vijay Pande, associate chemistry professor at Stanford, is leading the project. He expects to be able to produce data that will help drug manufacturers reverse-engineer the protein-creation process. The final goal is to create solutions that prevent protein misfolding, which results in disease.
(Wired News, 21 September 2001 via Edupage)
COLLEGES PROMOTE ROLE AS INCUBATORS
The top research universities in the Washington, D.C., area are promoting technology transfer between themselves and private technology companies in an effort to “positively impact economic development in the state, region, and nation,” said Nariman Farvardin of the University of Maryland’s engineering school. The Northern Virginia Technology Council hosted a conference where representatives of several area colleges met to discuss their goals as tech incubators. Dean Lloyd Griffiths of George Mason University’s engineering school noted that many technology ventures are initiated by students and faculty while at the university, thanks to an entrepreneurial spirit that the school has nurtured. Among the successful ventures of the University of Maryland’s program Farvardin mentioned are NeuralStem, Digene, and Martek Biosciences.
(Washington Post, 21 September 2001 via Edupage)
SWEDEN WILL CREATE A VIRTUAL INSTITUTION
A proposed law in Sweden calls for the creation of a nationwide virtual university. The bill, expected to be passed by the end of 2001, would earmark $20 million for the undertaking, which would combine the online courses of several state universities. The Net University would open in the fall and initially enroll 2,350 students. Students would be able to attend any institution in the project, and coursework taken at any institution would be accepted by all network members. Sweden has 39 state universities, most of which offer online courses. Each university will decide whether it will take part in the network. Education at the virtual university will be completely free for students, the same as at conventional state universities.
(Chronicle of Higher Education Online, 20 September 2001 via Edupage)
NSF AWARDS $12 MILLION TO PROJECT FOR MIDDLEWARE
Eight universities and nonprofit educational agencies have been granted $12 million from the National Science Foundation (NSF). Under the aegis of the NSF Middleware Initiative, these institutions will develop middleware to facilitate the online sharing of knowledge, instruments, and other scientific resources, and foster Web-based collaboration. The consortium consists of the University of Wisconsin, Madison; EDUCAUSE; the University of California, San Diego; the University of Chicago; the Information Sciences Institute at the University of Southern California’s School of Engineering; Internet2; the Southeastern Universities Research Association; and the National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.
(Chronicle of Higher Education Online, 25 September 2001 via Edupage)
INTERNET VULNERABLE TO TERRORISTS, EXPERTS WARN
ICANN plans to devote its upcoming annual meeting in November to an “in-depth assessment” of the issue of terrorism’s threat to the Internet, said ICANN CEO Stuart Lynn. ICANN is expected to focus on the issue of root server security, considering that roughly 13 root servers route a vast amount of TLD traffic, including traffic for .org, .net, and .com. “The 13 computers represent a pretty clear target for attack,” said ICANN board member Karl Auerbach. Auerbach believes such an attack could disable the Internet for as long as a week. In such an event, the corporate world would be hit hardest due to disruption of online payments, organization communications, and other online transactions, said eEye Digital Security’s Marc Maiffret.
(Washington Post, 28 September 2001 via Edupage)
GOVERNMENT WEB SITES SEE RECORD TRAFFIC AFTER ATTACKS
Following the Sept. 11 terror attacks, many people turned to government Web sites to get information. In terms of the number of online visits, government Web sites ranked second only to news Web sites in the days immediately after the World Trade Center and Pentagon disasters. The White House site, for example, was visited by 162,000 people per day following the attacks, according to Jupiter Media Metrix, and the Navy’s and Army’s sites drew on average of 205,000 and 137,000 daily visitors, respectively. The FBI’s site, built to collect leads in the investigation, succeeded in gathering 66,000 tips as of the Thursday after the attacks. The Federal Emergency Management Agency Web site activity also rose sharply to 88,000 visitors per day, up from what was considered a negligible amount of traffic. University of Southern California associate dean of the Annenberg School of Communication Joe Saltzman said people “hear a lot of information, but feel more comfortable by checking what they hear on reliable sites.”
(Reuters, 21 September 2001 via Edupage)
GOVERNMENT OVERLOOKS WEB’S POTENTIAL
Many federal government Web sites failed to deliver updated information about the national crisis when citizens needed it most. Former Office of Management and Budget IT policy director John Spotila criticized federal officials for not taking the opportunity to demonstrate the abilities of the Internet to bridge government and citizens in times of crisis. Although the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) site quickly posted relevant information, the FirstGov federal Web portal did not post any news or a prominent link to the FEMA site, he said. Other agencies directly related to the government’s response, such as the Department of Justice and Department of State, offered only sparse information about the attacks. One anonymous federal Webmaster expressed extreme annoyance with the administration of the FirstGov portal. Because it is operated under an outside contract, he said updating the content was a convoluted, drawn-out process.
(Interactive Week, 17 September 2001 via Edupage)
SCHOLARS QUESTION THE IMAGE OF INTERNET AS A RACE-FREE UTOPIA
Academic scholars are now focusing on issues of race on the Internet. They say the idea that race does not exist on the Internet is untrue and potentially harmful, and that it has engendered a feeling of “default whiteness” online. University of Arizona humanities professor Kali Tal said people who want to be known as part of a minority race are singled out if they bring it up. Lisa Nakamura, assistant professor of English at Sonoma State University and co-editor of “Race in Cyberspace,” said race on the Internet should not be ignored but recognized. She cites online chats and Multi-User-Dungeons (MUDs) as particularly irksome in this regard. Racial minorities may be inadvertently offended by a fellow chat room member who thinks they are white, unless they identify their race, which can then be seen as flaunting. To address the issue of race on the Internet, scholars are planning a conference at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology this spring called Race in the Digital Space.
(Chronicle of Higher Education Online, 21 September 2001 via Edupage)
INTERNET2 PROJECT PLANS MAJOR UPGRADES FOR ITS NETWORK BACKBONE
Internet2 officials are expected to announce a two-year improvement plan for the Abilene network backbone to boost user support and data capacity. “Abilene’s primary mission is to enable the development of advanced network applications, so we really believe that to stay ahead of the demand for capacity, we need to be proactive about upgrading the backbone capacity,” said Internet2’s Greg Wood. The backbone will be upgraded from 2.4 Gbps to 10 Gbps through the implementation of new optical devices, while Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6) will be used to support additional users. Qwest Communications will continue to support Abilene financially through October 2006. Abilene currently uses only about 30 percent of its capacity, but officials believe the improvements should ready it for future rises in traffic.
(Chronicle of Higher Education Online, 2 October 2001 via Edupage)