New Website: CTA goes cyber
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CTA. 1998. New Website: CTA goes cyber. Spore 75. CTA, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/48130
Internet URL: http://spore.cta.int/images/stories/pdf/old/spore75.pdf
Given its mission to improve access to information, it will come as no surprise that CTA has now officially joined the World Wide Web, or 'Web' for short. The Web is a system for linking up all the computers which form the global Internet. The Web...
Given its mission to improve access to information, it will come as no surprise that CTA has now officially joined the World Wide Web, or 'Web' for short. The Web is a system for linking up all the computers which form the global Internet. The Web does this in such a way that a user of one computer anywhere in the world can actually 'visit' selected parts of any other computer linked to the system and collect information on a myriad of topics. The Web is often described as being a living, up-to-date library. It makes available hundreds of millions of documents and other types of information: not just the written word, but also music, the spoken word, pictures and charts. It is a rich, often enriching, sometimes frustrating medium ? the problem for a user is not how to find enough information, but more often, how to find and select a specific item. There are on the Web, for example, more than 812 separate documents, including collections of music and films, describing the heart sutra chant of Zen monks, and more than a quarter of million recipes on making hot chili sauce! Started as a means of enabling scientists to share each others' working papers across the world without the need to mail or fax, the Web now has an estimated 130 million users world-wide. When an individual, or an organisation, bundles various documents together and makes them available on the Web, the set of information is known as a Website. This can be visited by any Web user. Have you heard the one about? Often the special value of a Website lies not only in the information that the original person or organisation has provided, but in the 'links' that are made available to other Websites. In the case of CTA's new Website, the first phase of its existence is focused on providing information about the organisation itself: its goals, and its services. Now, for the first time, the complex set of CTA's objectives and operations are described and readily accessible in one standard form, in one place ? cyberspace. Because the information is broken down into separate 'pages' (similar to chapters in a book), the reader can familiarise herself or himself with CTA's organisational background, the main office in Wageningen, and details of the various regional representations. The priority information themes of CTA are explained, as are the specific programmes of publishing, seminars and meetings, opportunities and activities for capacity building and training, and overall policies. Key documents, such as the CTA Mid-Term Plan, which guides the institution towards the conclusion of the current Lomé Convention, as well as the relevant excerpts from the latter, are available for those wishing to understand the nature of the organisation. Everything you wanted to know about CTA For many users ? within the community of those working for agriculture and rural development in ACP States, and others with similar technical or policy interests elsewhere ? the main benefits from this Website will be the ease of access to two kinds of information. Firstly, how to use CTA to maximum advantage, by making the best possible use of the services of the Centre. The explanations of how to apply for support in publishing, or training, or information supports and equipment, will help to ensure that only those who qualify for potential partnership will apply. This will heighten efficiency for potential requesters, and will help CTA perform more effectively. Secondly, specific CTA services are now available online through the Website. As well as sound files of the rural radio packs, which CTA provides to qualifying ACP radio stations, and the full catalogue of 800 publications available through CTA (for qualifying applicants), the full texts of Spore are available from issue 72 (December 1997) onwards, and back numbers will be available in early 1999. These facilities are searchable through an innovative database search system. In joining the cyber set after lengthy and painstaking preparations, the CTA Website serves, in its first phase, to increase the accessibility of its own information. The upcoming second phase will expand into an interactive service site, under the name of AGRICTA. This will provide dynamic links to information from and about partners and key resources elsewhere, and will provide various platforms for exchanges and dialogue on themes and events. The Website is not intended to replace the 'traditional' set of CTA services which have grown up over the last fifteen years in response to user demand and ACP priorities. Instead, by helping the user, and the institution itself, to find and provide information more efficiently, faster, more fully and in a more targetted way, the Website will help to heighten the impact and value of the full range of CTA services for its many users. The Website service is also available in a text-only version which allows users who have less powerful computers, or possibly poor and/or expensive telephone connections, to avoid the use of graphics. CTA will not forget that the majority of the world is still waiting for a dial tone, nor that information has to be exchanged in many different forms. It will continue its efforts to promote Internet access for agricultural and rural development workers. However, the message will remain the message, and the medium will remain the servant, and not become the master.