Web conference site facilitates info exchange

The General Services Administration's emerging Information Technology Applications Division has established a new electronic Web conference site to allow users to exchange information on smart card technology.

The new site is the latest of about a dozen Web conference sites set up by GSA in recent months to encourage IT professionals in government and industry to share information topics important to federal IT users. Topics range from Trail Boss issues (open only to graduates of that program) to capital planning (open to the public).

Richard Kellett director of the division said his office created the smart card conference site to give users a central link to other Web sites with content related to smart cards and to spur a dialogue on the subject - one that Kellett believes will affect society more drastically than the Internet.

"It seems like a technology that has the potential to fundamentally change the way we do business " Kellett said. "I was not aware of the pace at which it is growing. I think we are really at the point where the critical mass is starting to come together. There is just a tremendous amount of activity."

Richard Fidler Webmaster for GSA's IT policy on-ramp page said the electronic conference format works well for on-line discussions because it lists user posts chronologically and in an outline format that makes it easy to track the progress of a discussion.

For example a comment on a particular topic would be followed by a series of responses listed underneath the original comment and indented. Those might be followed by a set of their own responses indented yet again. Most of the sites are moderated Fidler added.

All but two of the sites are open to the public a double-edged sword in Fidler's view. "Anybody can shoot their mouth off and say anything they want " he said. "But I've got to remind people that this is a public domain so watch it! I'm a firm believer in doing business in the public eye."

None of the Web conference sites has seen high amounts of activity mainly because GSA has been hesitant to publicize them before they are completely outfitted with helpful features Kellett said.But those who want to be among the first to try out these sites can log on at www.gsa.gov/caucus.

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