What a Starr!

Wighty’s web world – a regular feature written by Richard Wightman of Design Engineering Online

At the time of writing this article, every radio station, TV news bulletin and daily newspaper has had it’s eyes firmly fixed in one direction – the internet.

The subject matter is pretty dull, the possible impeachment of Bill Clinton for telling fibs to the citizens of the good old USofA, but it highlights the power of the web (that’s a lot more interesting).

Kenneth Starr’s report into silly Billy reads like a sad resume of a tacky Mills and Boon novel, but 5.9 million people have apparently accessed it online. At its peak, attempts to access the site rose to 347,000 per minute. Many attempts were unsuccessful but the fact that the entire report reached a global audience at the same time satisfied an information distribution problem and did the web a few PR favours.

On a slightly smaller scale, the web is providing more and more relevant information for engineers. Take a look at some of the advertisements in this issue. If they’re anything like last month’s, most have a web address. Like the Starr report, most of the sites contain information which couldn’t be carried realistically in any other format. The information can be accessed globally, more or less instantly, and (depending on site design) you can look at the parts of the site which are relevant to you. No other information medium offers the depth and flexibility of the web.

The accountants Price Waterhouse have detailed another report which is more serious for the engineering sector. They estimate that the global worth of e-commerce to be $434 billion by 2002 and that 71% of engineering exporters will miss out if they remain off-line. So maybe it’s time that some companies woke up to the fact that the web isn’t just for surfers, it’s for business, jobs, wealth and success.

There is a development to tell you about on The Engineer Online (www.theengineer.co.uk). Job vacancies are now online with a search facility, so if it’s time to move on, you know where to look.

One to look for

I’m firewalled at the moment (my system is configured in such a way that I can’t access all of the site) but the Engineering Information Village (www.ei.org) looks very interesting and I’m a big fan of their graphics.

DE Online address: www.designengineering.co.uk