Internet Reviews

Joni R. Roberts; Carol A. Drost


ESnet: Energy Sciences Network. Access: http://www.es.net/.

Susanne Clement, Utah State University, susanne.clement@usu.edu

Funded by the Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science and managed and operated by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, ESnet is a high-speed computer network linking DOE scientists with their collaborators in the scientific community.

Scientists often collaborate with colleagues across the country (and internationally) and thus need access to expansive networking and computational tools in order to transfer and manipulate huge quantities of data. For some disciplines and research projects, such as energy, climate or astronomy, the sheer scope of these needs can be almost beyond imagination. In fact, data flow, just within ESnet, has grown by a factor of 10 every 47 months since 1990 (do the calculation to find out what this means over more than 20 years).

The Web site is well organized and navigation is for the most part quite easy, making it simple to navigate back and forth between sections. Each tab, past the homepage, reveals the content of each subsection. The “About ESnet” tab provides all the expected information, from mission and history to governance and staff contact information. Under “Network” you will find maps that show layered and real-time depictions of data traffic between hubs in the United States. You can even find historical network maps if you are interested in seeing how data transfers have expanded over time.

Under “Services” there is a knowledge base of technical issues related to data transfer and networking, including an interesting table with data transfer rates (how long it takes for data to transfer across various networks). The “R&D“ section features current research and development activities designed to provide better tools for DOE scientists. In the “News & Publications” section there are articles both by and about ESnet. The “Publications and Presentation” subsection is unfortunately only organized by date. Customizing the information on the site is facilitated through an easy login process.

This is an interesting Web site for those wanting to learn about the latest developments related to high-speed data networking and computation. Students, faculty, and researchers interested in current research on scientific networks may find ESnet worth a look.

The National Map. Access: http://Nationalmap.gov/index.html.

Jeremy Donald, Trinity University, jdonald@trinity.edu

A production of the United States Geological Survey (USGS), the National Map serves as a portal to tools, resources, news, and to the National Map viewer. Like many federal sites, Nationalmap.gov is presented for public consumption, though the content found there is likely to be of interest to those with somewhat specialized needs, such as students, faculty, and staff on the hunt for geospatial datasets for use with geographic information systems, for digital versions of USGS current and historical topographic maps, and those seeking information on USGS projects, publications, and staff.

Arguably the centerpiece of the site, the National Map itself is accessible through an online viewer. Listed under the “I want to make a map” heading on the homepage, the viewer is recommended for “more experienced map makers” and “professional users of geographic information.” This caveat is appropriate, as the viewer is a robust tool designed to present a variety of data and tools. Feature data available for easy viewing include detailed place names, structures (e.g., schools, hospitals, fire stations), transportation (roads, railroads, airports), and governmental unit boundaries. Specialized data include U.S. topographic maps, hydrography data (watersheds and water bodies), and land cover (impervious surfaces, land cover by type).

Some of the real power of the viewer is in the tools available under the “Advanced” and “Annotation” tabs. Users can measure distance and area, precisely select feature data by creating buffer rings around a single point, or create a hand-drawn selection of any combination of datasets. The annotation toolbar allows users to add points, lines, shapes, and text to the map, and these can in turn be downloaded in common formats. Most of the available data can be easily downloaded, with a robust selection of format options, including geoPDFs and (for the GIS-savvy) shapefiles and geodatabases. The viewer can show data from an outside published map service or from other government data portals, making it a useful data discovery tool as well as a starting point for visualization and basic analysis.

Nationalmap.gov is a must for finding aids on geospatial data, geographic information systems, and geosciences resources. Best suited for those with some familiarity with USGS products, initiatives, and mapping resources, it presents sophisticated technology and current USGS-related news and information to the experienced user.

Spotlight On Poverty and Opportunity: The Source for News, Ideas, and Action. Access: http://www.spotlightonpoverty.org.

Barbara Valentine, Linfield College, bvalen@linfield.edu

Attractive images linked to recent news, research, Webcasts, and commentary help to fulfill the mission of Spotlight On Poverty, a nonpartisan initiative intent on bringing key players and organizations together to reduce poverty and increase economic opportunity. Since its launch in 2007, both well-known foundations (e.g., Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Ford Foundation) and diverse regional groups (e.g., Sisters of Charity Foundation of South Carolina) have supported this effort. An assortment of experts from academia, government, nonprofits, health, and media contribute to the conversation.

Access the latest information easily from the main page or browse the considerable content through organized toolbar categories. Here the “Issues” tab reveals topics such as “Aging and Poverty,” Economic Opportunity,” “Family Well Being,” and “Rural Poverty,” linking to research, headlines, commentaries, and polling from a variety of sources. Users can find Drexel University’s research brochure “Real Cost of a Healthy Diet,” a report from the Senate “Is Poverty a Death Sentence?,” a perspective on jobs and the healthcare law from the Manhattan Institute (“Job Killer?”), a survey on the longterm unemployed, and a Webcast on career pathways for low-income people.

“Community Data” provides census and other statistics on poverty for citizens locally. Rollover the nifty “Spotlight on the States” interactive map to compare poverty rate (child, senior, and extreme) across states, then simply click on individual states for a report with data, research, policies, and news. The “Research” tab gathers relevant sources often cited elsewhere into groupings such as “Characteristics of Poverty,” “Mobility and Opportunity,” and “Immigration and Poverty.” A simple search box exposes additional content not neatly categorized elsewhere. For instance, the keyword “bank” located financial articles not found through browsing. Most pages contain regular updates via RSS feed or intentional posts.

Text, pictures, statistics, and video combine tastefully to provide a hook here for any learning style, whether you prefer in-depth research, a short Webinar, or brief news reports. Students and citizens looking for ways to understand issues underlying poverty, a forum to discuss solutions and opportunities, or a place to contribute will find this Web site valuable.

Copyright 2012© American Library Association

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