SENATE UNVEILS NEW WEB FOR 106th CONGRESS
With the beginning of a New Year and a new Congress, the Senate unveiled a new web site. The new design takes a cue from many news sites by pulling content onto the main page that links to greater detail within the site, rather than just offering a front page road sign with paths to follow from there. Among the content that is drawn to the top is a wealth of information about Senate history and art that was hidden deep in the previous site. And what's missing? The 'What's New' page has disappeared making it slightly more difficult for Congress watchers to track which members have ventured online (the House of Representatives has also dropped 'What's New' from their web site).
One change that has brought joy to the hearts of Senate staff who've spent years helping people to find a 'tilde' on their keyboard... 'It the squiggly worm next to the 1 key'... the new Senate homepage provides each member and committee with a virtual domain. You can still find a Senator at their old address 'www.senate.gov/~kennedy' for example, but finally, you can now find them at the much easier 'kennedy.senate.gov'. Sharp-eyed watchers will also notice that the URL alone is no longer enough to distinguish the difference between a genuine home page created by a Senators own office, and a generic placeholder page created by the Sergeant at Arms for those who haven't yet found the web on their own. Every Senators page, genuine and generic, are found using the formula 'lastname.senate.gov'. But the generic ones are still easy to spot because of the look they share with the rest of the Senate web site.
The United States Senate
EVERY MEMBER EVER IS ON THE WEB
Speaking of generic web pages for members of Congress, now there is one for every member. And not just every member of the current Congress, but every member EVER. This site offers no info about who's behind it, and so I'm only guessing that it's coming from the Library of Congress and/or this Historian and Clerk (going to congress.gov will leave you at THOMAS from off the Hill, and on a Congressional Intranet on the Hill). Anyway, it's great fun and certain to be a treasure trove for school children cramming for a last minute bio they need to write. I quickly found that there have been plenty of members named Chris, but Congress is still waiting to elect a 'Casey'. Maybe???? Naaaaah!
Congressional Biographical Directory
FRESHMAN SENATORS APPEAR ONLINE
With both the Senate and House webs abandoning their 'What's New' pages, it takes a bit more effort to spot new members as they launch a web site. The House has more members than I have time to try and track, but among the eight Senate freshman I can tell you that two have gotten around to establishing an online office. Check 'em out.
Jim Bunning (R-KY)
Charles Schumer (D-NY)
GOING NEGATIVE IN NEW YORK
I used to think that the web would be different. Perhaps under the time and cost restraints of television going negative is the most cost effective means to campaign in that medium. But on the web, where costs are low and content can be deep, wouldn't candidates use the net to talk up their own background and positions rather than just attack an opponent? But that was years ago, when I was young and foolish. Check this one out, one undeclared Senate candidate launches a web site that says nothing about himself, but is instead just an attack against an similarly undeclared opponent. Sure, it's New York. And sure, a campaign between a former First Lady and a well known Mayor of New York City is bound to be lively if it happens. Time will tell if Rudy reaps cash and volunteers with his web attack. But I think it's obvious that this site is more about the news stories it will generate, than about providing any useful information to voters.
AND THEY'RE OFF
One thing is fast becoming clear with campaigning on the Internet in 1999. Establishing an online office is fast becoming one of the first steps undertaken by any candidate seriously considering a run for office. The launch of the Gore page yesterday completed the online lineup in the race for the White House. But it's not only the big boys (Pardon me Liddy, girls too) who've taken their campaigns to the net more that 20 months prior to election day. Check out my friend Andy! One thing the Internet has already done, it's making campaigns longer. Keep an eye out for overlap. I expect candidates who are looking ahead may launch their bids for the White House in 2004 before Election Day 2000 arrives! It could happen :-)
Andy Brack for Congress - South Carolina, 1st District
With the Senate trial behind us, and the waves of e-mail to Congress that it generated subsiding, many may be suffering an empty feeling, seeking a recipient for their missives. Well I'd never dream of encouraging anyone to send large amounts of unwanted e-mail to anyone. But it is worth noting that like members of Congress, many international leaders have e-mail addresses as well, and I'm sure they welcome comments from anywhere on the net. But send your messages soon, because real bombs may take Yugoslavia's web servers before any e-mail bombs can :-)
CNN - Access to NATO's Web site disrupted
Federal Republic of Yugoslavia Official Web Site
That's all for now!
Copyright ©1999 by Chris Casey