The Hill on The Net
Electronic Update #5


Twenty-one months ago, Newt Gingrich cut the ribbon on THOMAS and proclaimed the dawning of the first online Congress over which he would preside as Cyber-Speaker. Almost a year has passed since Gingrich's re- election campaign appeared on the Web. In just about a week the 104th Congress is expected to come to an end, and finally, Newt Gingrich has joined 190 Representatives who have gone before him and established a home page on the World Wide Web for their congressional offices.

It's an average page for a member of Congress, some are better, some are worse. Most improve over time as the office gains experience and familiarity with the web. There is no indication that the Speaker's office plans to keep current press releases available on the page. At the time of this writing (9/22/96) some of the promised content such as Newt speaking out on Medicare and Taxes fail due to links to files that don't exist. Such glitches are common when a member debuts on the web and are certain to be ironed out shortly.

But one link is particularly curious. Click on the link labeled "Constituent Services", and you find yourself reading a page titled "Tom Foglietta's Constituent Services" that offers information on how to contact the offices of Rep. Tom Foglietta of Pennsylvania. Foglietta's office has yet to unveil a home page of their own, and the "services.htm" file accessed is in the Gingrich directory. Why the Speaker would point his constituents to information from the office of a Pennsylvania Democrat is unclear. Perhaps someone at House Information Resources just mixed the files up, or maybe the Speaker borrowed another member's home page and just forgot to make all the needed changes before posting it. Whatever the case, welcome to the Web Mr. Speaker!

Speaker of the House - Newt Gingrich of Georgia

Constituent services for Gingrich/Foglietta? (this link has since been corrected)

I told you it had to happen. In update #3 I told you about a new service called Capitol Hill Online which offers a listing of what it believes are the 25 best home pages maintained by members of Congress. Now, David Morgan, who maintains a web-based directory to Congressional e-mail addresses and home pages has created his own listing of the Worst Web Pages of Congress. David's test is simple, he's not looking for the flashiest pages or judging on content, he's just checking to see which pages are inaccessible to a text-only web browsers such as Lynx. Many Congressional webmasters are tempted to show their stuff by embellishing their home pages with the latest bells & whistles the web has to offer. But if they're not Lynx-friendly, in David's mind at least, they are among the worst.

The Worst Web Pages of Congress

That's all for now!



Copyright 1996 by Chris Casey

Electronic Updates #1, #2, #3, #4 & #6.

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