Core Computing Blog

Explaining Elections, or Wandering on the Web

A few days ago I was enjoying a typical visit to YouTube. You know what I mean; someone sends you a link to a video and then over on the right you see a list of about 4 more you want to see, each of which leads to another four or five, and so on. Pretty soon, that little quick visit you took has turned into an hour of watching videos. As I was digging through the video suggestions, I was reminded of another page that I visit regularly that has kind of the same “click through” impulse that pervades YouTube.

It’s called the Scout Report. It’s updated every Friday from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. And what a great resource it is, not to mention fun. Sadly, a lot of the value of the web has been overshadowed in recent years by the strictly social. The social aspects have a great value for sure, but there is so much more to be gained if you know where to look.

That’s where the Scout Report comes in. Each week the Scout Report delivers an excellent list of amazing web sites rich with information. The down side? It’s educational. The up side? It’s educational. And you’ll find yourself clicking away to look at all the linked sites for hours, all the while learning more and more about each weeks focus.

The report for the week of Oct. 28 is particularly timely because it contains a wealth of resources about the history and practice of the election process in the United States. Especially of interest is detailed information about the electoral college. In addition, there is a wealth of links to resources focused on election history, women’s suffrage, voting rights, campaign buttons, polls and so much more.

You can get to the Scout Report here: https://scout.wisc.edu/report. The report I’m referring to above is the report dated October 28, 2016, Volume 22, Number 42, and the link to it is https://scout.wisc.edu/report/2016/1028. Near the top is a list of all the sites and associated links they suggest you visit. A little further down the page you’ll find a brief summary of what you will find at each link. Tremendous resource and one that you can make use of on Election Day so you’ll be prepared to argue with all the news commentators knowing that “Hey! I know this stuff!!” even if they don’t.

The current report (https://scout.wisc.edu/report/current) isn’t focused on any specific topic but it has some incredible resources listed; some educational, some just plain fun. Either way, worth a visit. And I should mention that once a new report is released, the current report is moved to the Past Scout Reports section (https://scout.wisc.edu/report/past) and contain the reports all the way back to 1994. If nothing else it can be fun rummaging around in the early reports just to get an idea of just how much the web has changed. Kind of like digging into a junk/antique shop - you just never know what you’ll find.

If you’re interested, you can always sign up to have the Scout Report delivered to your email inbox each week at this link: https://scout.wisc.edu/user/register. Trust me, it’s worth a quick look every week. Takes about 10 seconds to scan it and I promise that you’ll find some stuff out there that will astonish you and amaze your friends.