We’ve had the slick and sexy web presentations from the world’s "wired" communities. We’ve seen the tentative steps towards a commercial environment with various shops and services available on the net: now things are getting serious as the Treasury steps out and leads the way for government information services to develop and use web presentations as a means of communicating with their "customers".
The arrival of HMG on the Internet with a web presentation marks the start of a new phase of growth and development for UK on-line businesses.
The more cautious spectators of the Internet have been progressively overwhelmed by recent announcements from companies like IBM and Microsoft as all the major computer industry players scramble for a position in the expanding world of the Internet. And now the ultimate endorsement that the Internet has become a vital tool of business information has arrived for UK business people.
The UK Government move onto the World Wide Web follows in the footsteps of the US administration (see page 3), and this initial service has been timed to coincide with the Autumn budget statement. Naturally enough, the information being carried by the Treasury server relates to fiscal matters and provides a low cost way of distributing the vast quantities of information that spews forth from this department.
Currently available documents include the text of various ministerial speeches, and a collection of other "public domain" memos, reports and documents. Whilst features like the "Minutes of Monthly Monetary Meetings" might not rank with the glitz of the Whitehouse Web presentation that includes a JPEG of Bill Clinton and his saxophone, this is amongst the most significant events for the UK Internet.
Accountants Ernst & Young are also launching themselves onto the Internet, and the drive is on to attract the accountancy community to adopt the Internet as a means of managing the prodigious amount of information that it is required to digest and implement every time a chancellor stands up in parliament.
Whilst this material may be virtual mogadon for some pioneering cybernauts, it comes as a great encouragement to the exponents of the commercial Internet whose encounters with government to date have mainly included the sensationalism of the tabloid press as the seamier aspects of an "open" data environment have caused questions to be asked about the serious purposes of the net.
And speaking of less desirable uses of the Internet, how long will it be before we receive tax demands by email, and be able to fill in the returns via a web page? No one is prepared to offer any dates, but the idea is certainly not being ruled out.
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